Dr. Kimberly Rogers on vegan skin care, the benefits of a plant-based diet and more!
I love seeing Lifestyle Medicine practitioners (after facing medical discrimination as a vegan). I'm lucky enough to have Dr. Kimberly Rogers at Progressive Health of Delaware, and her wonderful colleagues, as my primary care! I was able to catch up with Dr. Rogers recently, and I wanted to share her wisdom with all of you.
What brought you to lifestyle medicine?
When I started practicing medicine, I developed a sense of frustration that I wasn’t helping patients to the best of my ability because I could see how so many of their conditions were rooted In chronic disease, but prevention wasn’t something that we focused on too much in medical school, so studying the tenets of lifestyle medicine was really valuable for me to gain that knowledge and develop those skills.
What makes lifestyle medicine unique in the medical field?
Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based approach which is meant to be used as an adjunct (not a replacement for) traditional Western medicine. The focus is on lifestyle modifications instead of pharmacologics as a therapeutic modality, and doctors partner with patients to empower themselves in implementing the lifestyle modifications that will help treat and prevent chronic disease.
How can a vegan find out more if they want to find their own lifestyle medicine practitioner?
The easiest way is to google lifestyle medicine or plant based providers in your area. I haven’t been able to find one website that lists all the providers, but I believe the American College of Lifestyle Medicine is working on creating a list.
When we met, we were talking about natural skin care. What advice do you have for vegans who are looking at natural skin care products?
I think whenever we hear the word “natural” we assume this means “safe” or “gentle”. Natural products can be highly effective, and potent, but depending on your skin, they can cause irritation and side effects just the same as synthetic chemicals can. For sensitive skin, you may find that some active botanicals can be irritating (I found this to be the case with my skin for sure). One of the most important things with skin care is looking for clean products that are free of parabens, sulfates and other potentially harmful chemicals that can be endocrine-disrupters. Keep in mind, however, that even some natural products (ex lavender essential oil) can be endocrine-disrupting …so we should be taking the same amount of caution in researching natural ingredients as we do with synthetic ingredients.
What do you find most exciting about your job? What do you find most challenging?
Lifestyle medicine primary care is a very fulfilling field, when you find the patient that is motivated to enact changes and you feel that you can truly assist them in their journey in an evidence-based way. With lifestyle medicine, we try not to rely on medications (unless necessary), what we really give is education, resources and support.
Of course, the caveat is that lifestyle changes can be hard for a patient to enact or maintain, and as a doctor the challenge is in supporting patients in making these huge changes throughout all stages of the journey.
What's one vegan, non-food item that you have the hardest time trying to find?
I’m always trying to stock up on my hyaluronic acid serum.
What advice do you have for those that are new to plant-based diets?
The biggest reason plant based diet adherence can fail is when people get overzealous and try to overhaul their entire diet at once. I like to encourage a gradual implementation of a plant based diet for those that are nervous about starting. And also remember, plant based doesn’t automatically mean healthy. Oreos are vegan! So the focus should be on whole foods, minimally processed foods. A good first place start is trying to increase the number of plants (5-6 servings of whole veggies and fruits daily), and after you’ve mastered that, working on reducing processed foods and animal products from the diet.
A lot of people talk about the benefits of a plant-based diet in preventing or even reversing diabetes, cancer and heart disease....but what gets missed when we talk about the benefits of a plant-based, whole food diet?
A whole food plant-based diet literally has no downsides in terms of health benefits. It overall has the effect of providing essential nutrients, phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits that can impact a host of health conditions, including brain health, bone health, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease amongst other things.
What's your favorite vegan junk food? After all, we can't be good all of the time 😉 I always have Unreal Dark Chocolate Coconut bars stocked in my pantry for when the sweet tooth hits.