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“Plantology with Dr. Sharon Bergquist” from the “Foodie Pharmacology” Podcast, hosted by Dr. Cassandra Quave

by Saanvi Nayar

“Foodie Pharmacology” is hosted by Emory assistant professor Cassandra Quave, PhD, an acclaimed ethnobotanist who is curator of the Emory Herbarium. This episode focuses on Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist’s research into a plant-based diet, and how it is a sustainable and healthy switch into a holistic lifestyle that values preventative medicine. Bergquist is the founder and director of Emory Lifestyle Medicine & Wellness, and a professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. She also hosts her own podcast, “The Whole Health Cure,” and is co-author of the bookbook Plantology.

Berquist discusses how she has observed so many patients with Type 2 diabetes, attributing many chronic diseases to the over-processed Western diet. She talks about how one does not have to make complete concessions and fully switch to vegan or vegetarian diets, but should rather focus on instituting plant-based options for overall health. She discusses how to make this lifestyle affordable, by discussing meal plans based on foundational whole grain and legume sources for protein and fiber, emphasizing whole foods as integral to health.

Bergquist emphasizes food as medicine. When the podcast discusses the influx of processed foods, it was very interesting to hear about the processing of products marketed as healthy; for example, kefirs and yogurts flavored with fruit wind up being loaded with sugar. In relation to the universal influx of sugar across the American diet, Berqguist talked about adopting a plant-based diet as addictive; the surge in energy and overall well-being is palpable, with Quave completely agreeing and mentioning that she can tangibly feel a shift in her energy when going through a period of not eating healthfully such as when she is traveling. In a world where we are increasingly exposed to free radicals with more salt, sugar, and fat in our diets or larger portion sizes that increase the difficulty for our digestive system, the podcast reinforces the importance of reframing what the body needs. Dr. Berqguist promotes “flipping the plate” to convey that instead of a massive serving of chicken and only a bit of salad, consumers should reconsider intuitive needs instead of how food portions have been presented. In choosing seemingly healthy options and meals that do not reflect true health because of portion sizes and hidden added sugar and fat, the podcast raises questions concerning food insecurity; how does the conversation about food insecurity rely on access to knowledge about what eating healthy means?

You can listen to this podcast on Everand