By: Jackie Glodener
Dr. Sperling is the director of preventive cardiology at Emory Hospital as well as a cardiologist and professor at the Emory School of Medicine. He was invited to participate in the panel. Dr. Sperling was senior author on a paper titled “Diets and Cardiovascular Disease: An Evidence-Based Assessment” published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC). He and his colleagues realized patients were frequently relying on cardiologists for dietary advice, but the doctors felt uncomfortable giving suggestions due to the lack of nutrition education in medical school. Dr. Sperling collaborated on this article in order to provide information for other cardiologists to be better able to treat their patients. That article gave Dr. Sperling national recognition as an expert in dietary advice. Because of his work in preventative care, clinical trials, and a number of health programs at Emory, Dr. Sperling was invited to rate the 38 diets for the US News and World Report.
As a clinician, Dr. Sperling recommends different dietary patterns to patients every day. Depending on the individual, Dr. Sperling recommends various lifestyle changes. Using concepts from sociology and psychology, he likes to keep things simple with his patients. He and the patient pick one to three areas to change, such as soda intake, portion size, or exercise. From there, small steps build and lead to big lifestyle changes. In this way, the changes are easier to implement permanently and attrition rates drop dramatically. Naming the DASH diet #1 makes sense. The diet is supported by studies, most people can easily adopt it without drastic changes, it is reasonably affordable, and it is sustainable in the long-term. The DASH diet emphasizes high intake of “vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, [and] nuts” and low intake of “sugar-sweetened beverages [and] red meat.”
The diet is non-restrictive and advises a way of eating, rather than a list of foods that can or cannot be eaten. It falls in line with Dr. Sperling’s recommendations to personalize dietary patterns, in which a clinician utilizes a whole-patient approach to healthcare.
In Latin, “dieta” means a way of life. In the grand scheme of things, it matters less which diet was named number one; it is more important to look at an individual’s lifestyle. As medicine continues changing, there will be a greater focus on population health, disease management, preventative care, and a whole-patient approach, rather than the fragmented healthcare delivery that we often experience now. Dr. Sperling and many other cardiologists are participating in this preventative, patient-centered health care approach by recommending heart-healthy dietary pattern changes to their patients.
 Parikh, P., McDaniel, M. C., Ashen, M. D., Miller, J. I., Sorrentino, M., Chan, V., … Sperling, L. S. (2005). Diets and Cardiovascular Disease: An Evidence-Based Assessment. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 45(9), 1379–1387. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2004.11.068
I'd like to give special thanks to Dr. Laurence Sperling. Please email email@example.com with any questions or comments.