Did you know that there is a direct correlation between chronic illness and dietary habits? Poor diet is considered a main cause of chronic illness. Various studies over the past few years have proven the effectiveness of plant-based diets in preventing and reversing chronic illnesses, including heart disease, type two diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue has launched a new program that will help patients struggling with nutrition and chronic illness.

The Plant Based Lifestyle Medicine Program began on January 16th and already has 260 patients enrolled. Those suffering from chronic illness in the New York City area have to be referred to the program by a doctor. Participants then have access to an entire team of medical professionals including: a doctor, a registered dietitian, and a health coach. The team will work with patients to “create a personalized plan for healthy, plant-based eating that works with your lifestyle and your family,” according to the program’s website. Overall, this is great opportunity to get not only the patient involved, but also the entire family, many of whom may be at risk for developing chronic illnesses from the same factors of diet and genetics.

So what is a plant-based diet? It’s an eating pattern that includes an abundance of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. The diet also reduces a patient’s intake of fried foods, red meat, processed sugars, and refined carbohydrates. In a press release issued by NYC Health + Hospitals New York State Senator Brad Holman said, “Countless studies demonstrate that transitioning to a more plant-based diet alleviates the side effects associated with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.” Backed by the findings of numerous studies, this program may indeed have a direct impact on the surrounding community.

Funded by NYC Health + Hospitals, this $400,000 dollar program has already exceeded participant expectations. It was originally set up to help about 100 patients, but less than one month after it’s inception, there is now a waitlist. This shows the demand for healthy lifestyle programs like this throughout the city. Even though there is a waitlist, doctors don’t want to keep patients waiting long. NYC health plans to “accommodate as many patients as possible from the waiting list.” Once the program is through the pilot phase the goal is to enroll more patients with the help of ongoing resources.

To learn more about this program visit the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program website.