An Interview with Dr. Greg Quinn, Founder of MedChefs
MedChefs is an evidence-based service created to optimize health through proper nutrition. So, where does this evidence come from?
There is a large body of research supporting the benefit of a Whole Food Plant-Based Dietary Pattern such as a Mediterranean diet. The PREDIMED Trial* is one of very few studies that actually confirms eating in such a way is correlated with a longer life and decreased cardiovascular events.
The totality of data strongly supports the benefit of a Whole Food Plant-Based diet. MedChefs is based on this evidence and delivers a customized Mediterranean or Vegan Dietary Pattern for its members.
*PREDIMED Trial: New England Journal of Medicine: N Engl J Med 2013; 368:1279-1290
Dr. Quinn, you advise people to eat a whole foods, mostly plant-based diet to achieve long term optimized health. What does this mean?
In our society there has been an inappropriate focus on the consumption of protein and a reliance on animal-based protein. That, combined with an addiction to overly processed foods, for example pre-packaged convenience foods and fast foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt, has resulted in the epidemic of heart disease, cancer and diabetes in our country.
The antidote to this is a plant-based diet. This means a dietary pattern rich in whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables and high in fiber. And, if you eat meat, oily fish is preferred.
There is room for meat/dairy in a healthy diet, but it is a matter of proportion.
The majority of our food should come from plants. If you are not vegan think of meat, fish and dairy as a supplement to add flavor and not as the primary source of your nutrition.
At MedChefs we talk about our program being “evidenced-based.” What this is based on?
The term “evidence-based” means having a reliance on the facts. Too often we base our decisions and actions on the opinions of others. This can result in habits that don’t serve us. Or perhaps in our unsureness, we bounce from trend to trend. It is critical we stop and ask ourselves why we know what we know?
When looking at the role diet plays in chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer the evidence is clear that a plant-based diet is associated with increased survival. This was definitively demonstrated in the PREDIMED Trial.
Why is the PREDIMED Trial significant compared with the reported claims of trendy diets, the bio-hackers, the supplement industry?
The PREDIMED Trial looked at the effect of a Mediterranean diet on survival and the prevention of cardiovascular events.
The significance of the PREDIMED trial relates to its design. It was a randomized, controlled intervention trial (RCT) with clinical endpoints. This is the gold standard of research studies. What makes such a study so valuable?
These kinds of trials are more powerful than studies that look at a change in laboratory values or other measured metrics between study groups like weight or blood test. Not many trials are of this type because they have to be large; they are expensive; complex and take a long time. But when successfully completed the results are powerful.
Outcome or clinical endpoint studies look at whether the intervention reduces the incidences of disease or increases survival. After all, don’t we want to know what we are doing will help us live a longer disease-free life?
What did the PREDIMED Trial prove?
The Mediterranean Dietary Pattern did reveal that the incidence of major cardiovascular events was lower among those assigned to a Mediterranean diet than among those assigned to a reduced-fat diet.
Interestingly, the PREDIMED Trial did not eliminate any food items. In the treatment group for the Mediterranean diet, olive oil, nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes were recommended and red and processed meats, baked goods and sodas were discouraged and limited. But not eliminated.
Benefits were seen in those that followed the recommendations. As long as you get an adequate amount of the beneficial food there seems to be no significant harm in consuming relatively unhealthy foods in small amounts.
So, I can eat an occasional chocolate chip cookie as long as I get enough of the right beneficial foods?