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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Is Plant-Based Eating for Everyone? Spotlight Article By Dr. Michael Wald, D.C,. Board-Certified Nutritionist, Dietitian

Dr. Michael Wald, D.C,. Board-Certified Nutritionist, Dietitian

By Dr. Michael Wald, D.C,. Board-Certified Nutritionist, Dietitian

How do you know if a plant-based diet is right for you? Is there really one way of eating that’s appropriate for just about everyone? 
In this article I’ll outline how to determine the best way of eating for you. Keep in mind that genetic factors, food likes and dislikes, current health issues, medications, stress levels, sleep and overall nutritional needs must all be considered when choosing the best diet. 
Also, because you’re aging daily, your nutritional needs change over the course of your lifetime. 
So even if a plant-based diet was initially the “right” choice for you, it requires regular updating based upon how your health responds. 

Here are several questions you should ask yourself when determining whether to move to a plant-based diet: 

Do you have a personal or family history of high cholesterol, blood sugar or blood pressure; autoimmune disease; or some other chronic condition? You might need specific nutrition to offset certain genetic factors. Health history and genetic testing can clarify these influences.

Do you have specific foods that you dislike or that disagree with you? Consider these when making a healthy-eating plan. Digestive issues, including allergies and enzyme deficiency, affect how you absorb and utilize food to build health. Remember, you are not what you eat, but what you absorb and utilize from what you eat. Enzyme and allergy tests can identify malnutrition and malabsorption issues.

Do you have an autoimmune condition? Autoimmune diseases are characterized by inflammation, which causes degeneration and symptoms. These diseases also increase the body’s need for proteins, among other nutrients, so a plant-based diet would need to be adjusted to emphasize high protein content to promote autoimmune healing. Most of the people on plant-based diets who have come to me over the last 30 years have been receiving very inadequate nutrition.

What’s your current level of exercise? The type of excise as well as its intensity and duration affect the amounts of dietary nutrients needed. You need a higher-protein, healthy-fat diet to burn fat and form lean muscle. The type of exercise you do has a major influence—for better or worse—on the amount of protein, carbs, fats and vitamins and minerals you need to benefit from that effort. A body-composition test, which reveals percentages of lean mass, fat and water, can help determine the proper dietary balance.

Do you have vitamin, mineral, protein, carbohydrate, fat or nutraceutical deficiencies? If you do but you don’t know it, a boilerplate plant-based diet can’t include everything you need. Lab tests are available to identify nutritional imbalances.

What medications and nutritional supplements do you take? How well do you sleep? What’s your stress level? These and other factors also influence your nutritional needs. In fact, this article explains only a few of many reasons a “plant-based diet for all” is the wrong approach. 
Testing is the best way to determine your daily dietary needs. Baseline and comparison blood tests for nutrient levels and use, absorption/malabsorption testing, tests of metabolic rate and genetic testing are just some of the ways to find out what your body needs—because you deserve to be healthy.

The Office of Dr. Michael Wald, Board-Certified Nutritionist, is located at 29 King St., 2nd Floor, Chappaqua, NY. For more info, call 914.552.1442, email [email protected] or visit