Dustin Rudolph Shares a Pharmacist’s Take On Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diets
Dustin Rudolph is a pharmacist who prefers plants to pills. His transformation began in February 2009 with a routine visit to his podiatrist, Dr. Sal. He ended up in a discussion on health care reform with this fellow medical professional. He was both confused and intrigued by Dr. Sal’s statement that legislation would really not have a fundamental impact on the nation’s health care practice.
Dustin ended up reading The China Study at Dr. Sal’s suggestion. At first the book’s plant-based diet approach seemed farfetched. Dustin had grown up in rural Montana on a diet heavy with animal foods. He’d also spent six years in pharmacy school in grueling studies of basic science, math, even literature. All this education prepared him for what he envisioned as a career curing patients with powerful, effective prescription drugs.
The more Dustin researched plant-based nutrition, the more he saw its accuracy shining through in his experiences. First, there were all the devastating chronic diseases that his family suffered with from their meat, dairy, and egg diet. Dustin himself, although young and relatively healthy, had migraine headaches and weighed about 10 pounds more than he wanted to.
Second, Dustin thought about his patients. The one thing that struck him the most is that those with chronic illness simply did not get better from drugs. Instead, they just kept coming back to him for more meds.
Wanting to make a difference, Dustin switched to working in a hospital pharmacy. He now found himself routinely caring for
patients on 10 to 15 medications. He sadly observes “these patients almost always have multiple illnesses they’re battling (heart disease, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, GERD, etc.) and they are often what we call “frequent flyers” because we see them get discharged and come back within a matter of months. When someone is on this many meds, usually a portion of them are started to counteract the side effects of the others. It’s like a snowball effect and once it starts it almost never reverses course. What started out as a few meds trying to treat an illness ends up being being a laundry list of meds along with a laundry list of health complaints from the patient.”
Dustin’s transition to a 100% plant-based diet took him about a year. He found scant support and trying opposition to his dietary change among many family and friends. He started going to vegan dinner meetups and finding friends who understood his choices. He ditched cookies and candy in favor of fresh fruit. He tells the rest of the story. “My taste buds really opened up after this. I started tasting the variety of natural flavors that real food offered. Milk was easy to replace because I discovered almond milk, which I absolutely love! Then I cut out all meats except an occasional fish dinner. Eventually the fish went by the wayside and I was almost 100% plant-based with the exception of cheese. That was the hardest item to give up but I finally got rid of it and very rarely substitute with a vegan cheese product.”
Dustin now enjoys a whole foods, plant-based diet with vegetables, legumes, fruit, grains, and nuts. Not to mention the frequent small square of dark chocolate for dessert at lunch. He thrives on both salads and cooked meals, including stir fries, burritos/enchiladas, homemade soup, sweet potato & steamed veggies, or a vegetable medley with brown rice as a base. He’s lost the weight he wanted to, his risk factors for disease got significantly more favorable, and his migraine headaches are way less frequent.
Dustin describes the unique perspective his training as a pharmacist give him on the health aspects of a vegan diet. “I’m very fortunate to get to see both sides of the coin so to speak. On one side you have conventional medicine that focuses on pills and
procedures to treat patient’s illnesses and diseases. From what I’ve seen this approach is very costly and not very effective. We really aren’t getting what we pay for to be honest. However, conventional medicine has its place and I would never want my doctor to show up with a scrumptious baked vegan dish if I landed in the hospital because of a car wreck or serious case of pneumonia. Acute trauma care and infectious diseases are definitely the two areas where modern medicine works miracles. On the other side of the coin I have yet to find a better way to prevent and reverse the debilitating effects that a large number of chronic diseases have on patients than by using plant-based diet. It’s much safer, less costly, and far more effective than any pill could ever dream of being.”
His fellow medical professionals are still reliant on drugs and surgery, while many registered dietitians counsel clients to follow a diet heavy with animal foods. Since the educational system does not teach the reality of plant-based nutrition, the only way clinicians can find out the truth is by “spending time on their own digging for answers.” He sees some evidence this is happening more often and that some doctors are telling patients about the power of plant-based eating.
Luckily for the rest of us, Dustin is writing a book explaining his unique perspective at the intersection of pharmacy and whole foods, plant-based diets. He previews his thoughts about his book. “My vision is to try and educate others about the benefits of lifestyle medicine with an emphasis on plant-based nutrition as a tool to prevent and reverse the array of chronic diseases we are now seeing in westernized cultures. I hope to reach a wide audience from people in their 20’s to those in their 60’s and 70’s. Anyone who has the desire to improve their overall health and wishes to reduce or eliminate their dependence on prescription drugs and the pharmaceutical industry would be the perfect reader for my book.”
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. This easy-to-follow eating plan is built on sustainable food choices that can prevent, and even reverse, most chronic disease.