Cardiologist Dr. Jaimela (Jami) Dulaney used to think hypertension or diabetes couldn't be reversed, only managed. Her own grandparents struggled with diabetes and heart disease - both passing in their late forties and early fifties. As far as her own genetic risk, she believed exercise and portion control could delay the onset of these chronic illnesses and that was pretty much as good as anyone could do.
After watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, things changed for Dr. Dulaney. Her eyes were opened to the benefits of plant-based eating. She and her family drastically shifted their lifestyle - adding more whole and plant-based foods to their plates and eliminating meat, fish, dairy, and oil. In the process, she's also been able to shed her need for cholesterol and acid reflux medication.
Today, Dr. Dulaney has made it her mission to educate patients on the benefits of plant based nutrition. And today Dr. Dulaney says she and her cardiac team have had more success in reversing high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease with a plant-based diet than she ever had with solely medications.
This week, we had the chance to talk with Dr. Dulaney to hear all about her plant-based evolution and get her advice on getting started with this lifestyle change.
My first introduction the concept of being vegan was after stumbling across John Robbins’ book A Diet for a New America. I was amazed and appalled. I went vegan for the first time when I completed the book. Unfortunately, my family did not share my enthusiasm. I plodded along eating tofu and veggie burgers, along with salads and vegetables that my family ate, until I heard about Forks Over Knives while listening to a podcast while running. When I heard Dr. Esselstyn reversed heart disease by running education classes for his patients, the light went on. That was what I wanted to do. My mother had recently been diagnosed with an aggressive form on non-Hodgkin lymphoma and was about to begin chemotherapy. My father was also suffering from dementia. My family became ground zero for my plant-based revolution.
A number of our customers struggle with a transition to a plant-based diet - what advice do you have for them?
The more you transition to a plant-based diet, the better you will feel. Keep it simple and find the “go to meals” you enjoy the most. Sometimes it can be beans, greens and a potato. Learn to change your usual meals to plant-based versions. Start with the vegetables you like and try a new recipe each week and perhaps a new fruit.
What surprised you the most after you started eating this way?
I was always a vegetable eater so I really enjoyed adding color to my plate. The best part for me was the elimination of chronic indigestion when I eliminated all the oil. I had been taking a proton pump inhibitor for years and for so long had chocked it up to genetics.
What challenges did you have to overcome to change your diet?
The biggest challenge was socializing with friends. Ordering sides when we went out would lead to questions and I had trouble “gently” explaining my new nutrition without preaching.
What is your biggest fear?
Perhaps it is losing respect as a Cardiologist that traditionally steps in and fixes things. But that is small compared to how educating patients on plant-based nutrition has helped revitalize my passion for medicine. It is a great feeling to be able to take people off of medications or eliminate their pain with nutrition vs. procedures.
Do you have a philosophy by which you live?
Treat patients like I would like my family treated and don’t do anything that does not help people to live longer or better. It has served me well.
Need help getting started?
Our Get Me Started bundle has over 20 servings of fresh, organic, plant-based meals. And we'll deliver them to your door already cooked! All you have to do is heat, eat, and enjoy.
Looking for more plant-based nutrition advice from Dr. Dulaney?
Watch this video interview from the Plant-Based Cyclist.