Translating Research Into Practice

Translating Research to Practice

Based on the findings from the studies, registered dietitians may consider the following tips when working with individuals who have or are at high risk of cardiometabolic diseases:

Promote Plant-Based Diets: Encourage the adoption of plant-based diets, including vegetarian diets, as they have shown associations with improved cardiometabolic risk factors. Emphasize the consumption of minimally processed plant-based whole foods.

Focus on Whole Foods: Encourage a diet rich in whole foods, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Emphasize the importance of avoiding highly processed plant-based foods and empty calories. 

Consider Disease Status: Recognize that the effectiveness of plant-based diets may vary based on the individual's disease status. 

Address Medication Management: Be aware of the potential impact of medication on cardiometabolic outcomes. In individuals taking medications for hypertension, hyperglycemia, or dyslipidemia, consider the potential for medication adjustments and monitor accordingly.

Monitor Energy Intake: Pay attention to energy intake, especially in the context of weight management. Plant-based diets without energy restriction were associated with greater weight reduction compared to energy restricted diets, but individualized recommendations are crucial.

Consider Lifestyle Factors: Consider other lifestyle factors such as physical activity. Note that the association of vegetarian diets with outcomes was assessed in studies with and without physical activity intervention, so encourage a comprehensive approach to a healthy lifestyle. 

Educate on Diet Quality: Educate individuals on the importance of diet quality and variety. While the mechanisms behind the protective effects of plant-based diets are still being worked out, it is theorized that a synergy of bioactive compounds, including ascorbic acid, tocopherols, carotenoids, polyphenols, and other phytonutrients, exert cardiometabolic-protective effects. Counsel patients to include foods rich in these plant compounds—such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts—and to focus on the quality of the diet.

Tailor Recommendations: Individualize dietary recommendations based on the specific needs, preferences, and health status of each person. Consider factors such as age, comorbidities, and cultural preferences when developing dietary plans. 

Regular Monitoring and Follow-Up: Regularly monitor the progress of individuals on plant-based diets, and conduct follow-up assessments. Adjust dietary recommendations as needed and provide ongoing support and education.

Collaboration with Health Professionals: Individualized dietary recommendations should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional, taking into account the unique characteristics and health needs of each individual.