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Your Healthy Family: UCHealth cardiologist follows strict plant based diet

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Cutting out beef, pork, chicken and processed meats may sound impossible, but the results of getting it done may surprise you. Cutting out beef, pork, chicken and processed meats may sound impossible, but the results of getting it done may surprise you.

Dr. David Rosenbaum, a cardiologist with UCHealth Memorial is a doctor who talks a good talk, when it comes to a healthy diet because he walks the walk.  For 7 years Dr. Rosenbaum has eaten a strict plant based diet and has not touched beef, pork, chicken or processed meat.  Dr. Rosenbaum says A plant based diet and regular exercise together can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 90%.  

Making the transition to a strict plant based diet wasn’t a big adjustment for Dr. Rosenbaum.  He says,  “I've always been very much into a healthy lifestyle because my parents leading by example I've always been interested in athletics.”

Dr Rosenbaum is an avid cyclist and was challenged by a cycling buddy to get serious about his diet.  He recalls it was the nudge he needed, “He really pushed me to consider doing this it wasn't a long leap a big stretch for me because I rarely eat red meat and it wasn't difficult to sort of give up some of those choices.  He told me about a book the “Engine 2 Diet” which was written by a firefighter.  The book really illustrates why somebody would want to potentially consider a plant based diet.”

If you can't cut beef, pork, chicken or processed meats out completely, Dr. Rosenbaum says extreme moderation is the next best thing.  “I think it's certainly clear from research that the more we can avoid those choices the better for our health.  That being said I think if you want to reward yourself for good behavior, I think it's ok to have a steak every so often.  I think the problem is, it really becomes a frequent nearly daily part of our diet choices.  The more we can limit that, the less likely you are going to end up having health consequences with your heart or other blood vessels.”

Dr. Rosenbaum says if you can stick with a plant based diet, as hard as it sounds to go without beef, chicken and pork, the results may surprise you, they certainly have surprised him.  “After doing it for a while I still thought I would always crave steak, or I would just want a hamburger, but what was shocking for me, is just the smell of meat on the grill is so nauseating I have no interest in it at all, there's not a craving.  So be careful you might go off the deep end.”

Dr. Rosenbaum adds frequently seeing people in their 70's and 80's who eat a plant based diet who don't struggle with the level of heart disease, that patients much younger than that commonly have, also keeps him motivated.  If you have any questions about heart disease make sure to follow up with your doctor, and if you’re interested in a plant based diet there are several books on the subject and you can also follow up with a registered dietician.

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