Healing patients with plants!

We first met Dr. Andrea Espinoza at a PlantPure Health & Weight Loss Seminar and Jumpstart in Thibodaux, Louisiana. She offered to attend the seminar to provide medical insight for any questions that arose.  Dr. Espinoza is a pulmonary and critical care physician who also happens to be plant-based.  

Dr. Espinoza’s plant-based journey began two years ago when she was doing rounds at her hospital and noticed the meals the patients were being served did not seem to be health-promoting.  Coincidentally, Dr. Espinoza ran into a nurse she had not seen for a while and noticed she had lost a lot of weight. The nurse explained that she had transitioned to a vegan diet and felt great.  

After considering both of these experiences, Dr. Espinoza wondered if instead of all the medications and treatments being provided to patients, the solution could be as simple as the food that they were eating. She started to do her own research and began by watching the documentary film Forks Over Knives.  It took Dr. Espinoza three tries to actually finish the film.  The first time, she had to turn it off after making it only a quarter of the way through because she was overwhelmed with shock, disbelief and dread.  The second time, she felt anger that she was never taught this information in med school. After her third and final viewing, Dr. Espinoza was determined to incorporate plant-based eating into both her own life and medical practice. 

She began by suggesting to her patients that they cut down on dairy and animal products.  When they returned for follow-ups, many had lost weight and were regaining their health. Currently, Dr. Espinoza focuses on helping patients examine what is on their plate and how it will affect their health.  Many doctors think that their patients won’t change their eating habits and so do not take the time to educate them on the importance of diet. Dr. Espinoza believes just the opposite—if doctors took the time to educate their patients, they would be amazed at what they can achieve.

In addition to her role as a physician, Dr. Espinoza and her three sisters created a non-profit called FATE (Female Awareness of Tobacco Effects).  Their goal is to educate 12-year-old girls about the very real health effects of smoking—before they start to smoke—in a fun and innovative program where they bring the girls t-shirts and have a discussion.  The sisters now find themselves discussing the benefits of eating plant-based foods with the girls as well as encouraging them not to smoke. They are even considering changing the group’s name to include eating more plants!  

When asked about the PlantPure Jumpstart she attended, Dr. Espinoza observed that she was struck by the commitment and determination of the participants.  She was so impressed with the program and the positive effects on participants that she decided to use the PlantPure Seminar on a monthly basis as a community outreach tool at her new lifestyle medicine practice.  Her goal is to run the seminar and then have motivated individuals do the 10-day Jumpstart to experience the health benefits of a plant-based diet.  She will also offer pre- and post-biometric screening, cookbooks and personal counseling to equip participants with the tools they need to adopt this new lifestyle.

One of the best outcomes for Dr. Espinoza is that she has regained her passion for medicine again—she feels like she is really helping people, not just labeling them with a disease and prescribing a medicine.  What’s more, she is not only teaching them, she is learning from them too!