KentuckyOne Health promoting whole-food, plant-based diet, named No. 1 for heart health by U.S. news panel of experts

One in every eight Kentuckians suffers from diabetes, and the state ranks 12th in adult obesity, with 31.6 percent of its adults obese and 39 percent suffering high blood pressure, according to the State of Obesity report. These diagnosis generally results in recommendations for exercise and changes in diet, but what kind of diet?

KentuckyOne Health is promoting the Ornish Diet, a whole-food, plant-based diet that is naturally low in both fat and refined carbohydrates. The hospital chain says it is the only health-care provider in the state to offer the diet, starting in Louisville in July 2015 and in Lexington in October.

The diet was named the No. 1 Best Heart-Healthy Diet for the sixth year in a row by U.S. News & World Report. The magazine ranked it fourth Best Diabetes Diet, 11th Best Diet for Healthy Eating and 11th best overall diet. Nutrition and health experts determined the U.S. News rankings after reviewing information on 38 diet plans.

The first group of KentuckyOne patients using the diet averaged a loss of 7.5 pounds; three patients lowered their blood-pressure medication; and one patient who had diabetes came off his insulin and another is discussing coming off cholesterol medication after 25 years, according to a KentuckyOne news release.

The diet is part of the Ornish Reversal Program, which also includes exercise, meditation and cardiac rehabilitation strategies that include group support, the release said.

“It’s been amazing to see the interest we’ve had in the program from people across the state,” said Alice Bridges, vice president of healthy communities for KentuckyOne. “So much so, that even we’ve been surprised by it. I think we’re at a tipping point culturally where there is more openness to this kind of lifestyle change.”

In Kentucky, the Ornish Reversal Program is reimbursed for qualified and eligible members of Medicare and Anthem and Aetna insurance plans, and there is a discount for self-paying patients, says the release.

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