Plant-based diet could help you avoid taking pills

Two Kiwi doctors are looking to prescribe eating vegetables as an alternative to pills.

A new study in Gisborne shows a plant-based diet was successful in not only reducing patients' weight, but also the number of medications they took.

Gisborne patients with obesity, type-2 diabetes or heart disease were asked to change to a plant-based diet, to see what impact it would have.

"Basically it's saying people can change their lifestyle, lose weight, eat a lot and get some really positive results," lead researcher Dr Nick Wright said.

They were given cooking lessons and asked to base their diet around whole foods from plants, vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and avoid meat, fish, dairy, nuts and oils.

It doesn't involve exercise and there's no calorie limit.

So long as it was on the list, it was fine, and the results were dramatic. After one year participants lost an average of 11.5kg.

Cholesterol levels and blood pressure remained largely unchanged, but there was a 29 percent reduction in the use of medications.

"The cooking lessons were one of the most important things that they did in the sessions because it's one thing to tell people, 'Oh you should go eat this way,' and it's another thing for them to actually change their cooking habits," research co-ordinator Morgen Smith said.

They said the diet could work as prevention and a cure.

"A lot of money is invested into looking at really advanced interventions, and sometimes we skip out the simple things," Dr Wright said.

They hope that by prescribing a plant-based diet, they'll help patients avoid taking pills.