Brangman plants seed for healthier living
Thirty-eight thousand followers can't be wrong.
Judy Brangman's Instagram handle is @theplantbasedmd; her approach to medicine is what's driving her popularity.
The Bermudian physician is a leading voice in holistic health and plant-based nutrition in the United States, where she has lived since she completed her studies.
Through her North Carolina practice, Newell Health, she helps “motivated women” improve their diabetes, blood-pressure level and lose weight through lifestyle and dietary changes.
She opened it as a virtual clinic this year at the request of patients she had cared for through her work as an internal medicine physician at various hospitals in the Raleigh area.
“Only 5 per cent of doctors in the US are black, only 2 per cent are black females; and then I'm plant-based and holistic-minded, so that's even more rare,” said Dr Brangman, who runs her practice in addition to her hospital work. “After I saw them in the hospital, they wanted to see me after discharge. They were like, ‘Do you have a clinic?' And I said no. They wanted to see me in consultation for nutrition, for holistic medicine; they wanted a primary-care doctor, some of them.”
Equally interested were her followers on social media who had become attracted through her videos and posts on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
“I wasn't really trying to have a one-on-one [practice], but it seemed that's what I was supposed to do, so I did,” Dr Brangman said. “And I'm pleased. I actually enjoy it. It gives me a little bit of independence; it gives me a purpose. I feel this is a need people have and I'm meeting it.”
She fell in love with medicine while a student at Southampton Glebe Primary School.
“My mom is a nurse, my dad is a teacher; no one is a doctor in my family but I had this idea and this dream that that's what I was supposed to do and I just stuck with it,” the Berkeley Institute graduate said.
“I got deterred slightly. I didn't go straight through to medical school. I ended up working for a couple of years in a hospital laboratory before I decided to actually take the MCAT, but I give God credit for everything — because I think that really is my driving force. I think He put the drive in me to pursue medicine, the drive to do medicine in the specific way that I'm doing it right now. I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to serve people.”
She grew up “predominantly vegetarian” but didn't understand the importance of a plant-based diet until she left Bermuda.
“We didn't eat red meat and we ate chicken and fish and turkey on occasion,” Dr Brangman said. “So it wasn't that much of a stretch, but it wasn't until after medical school when I was in residency that I started to switch to a plant-based diet. It was only once I started to read the evidence and the science behind it.
“Most people don't eat enough vegetables, so that's basically what I encourage my patients to eat. Half the plate should be vegetables, minimising meat and dairy and minimising added sugars and processed foods.”
As such, she tells her patients who insist on eating meat and dairy to make sure at least 60 per cent of their diet comprises whole foods and comes from plant-based sources: fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains.
“I think with a lot of people it's the mindset. They think that healthy food has to be expensive, that it's going to taste nasty. So I'm working with people to change those two mindsets, sometimes doing cooking demonstrations so they can see that healthy food can taste delicious. I also plan to do grocery-store tours to teach people how to shop healthy on a budget, how to shop plant-based on a budget.
“Potato chips, Oreos and French fries are all vegan but they're not whole foods because they've been processed and manipulated, and have additives and things in them. If we focus on foods that are health-promoting, if we eat more of those and minimise the ones that are not health-promoting, it can help us to prevent many chronic diseases.”
Her patients have been appreciative of her integrated approach to medicine, which Dr Brangman sees as a growing trend.
“Most physicians aren't really up to speed on holistic health,” she said. “It is still new, so I'm charting a different path, so to speak. But I enjoy it. It gives me hope and I feel like it gives patients hope, too.
“I think patients are seeking alternative options and treatments, and so they're finding different specialities, which you may have heard about, such as integrative medicine, functional medicine, lifestyle medicine, naturopathic medicine.
“People are seeking these things and more and more physicians are seeking to get trained in these areas, too, which I think is great because the two areas go really well together.”
• Learn more about Judy Brangman at www.theplantbasedmd.com or contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org