Tea Date With Plant-Based Dr Mcilvena

A few weeks ago I came across a list of plant-based doctors in my area. Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena, a double board-certified MD specializing in Preventive and Integrative Medicine, was one of them on the list. I had a few questions floating around in my head lately for plant-based MDs {there aren't a ton out there}. So I figured why not get to know somebody in my hood. I contacted her for tea date.

What a fun hour we had talking about meds, health, diet, and sharing our personal health journeys. Dr Mcilvena's story is much like anybody's story when it comes to life changing discoveries: she found a book that really spoke to her, made {diet} changes, and then watched her health and life totally transform. 

Most people I know who have healed or cured their own pain/disease/illness have done so in a similar way. 

But Dr Mcilvena's story is even cooler than most because during her health transformations she was in the middle of medical school when it all happened. The book she was given is called Spontaneous Healing, by Dr Weil and after reading this book she removed animals from her diet and after a year she went full plant-based.

She became passionate and started reading more books and following more like-minded doctors at this point. All the while she was deeply immersed in med school where she was learning about different meds and how to use them to manage patients' illnesses and diseases. Never was she coached on changing diet or lifestyle nor was she taught about disease prevention. 

You know what the acronym MD should stand for? Managing. Disease." --- Dr Mcilvena

Mcilvena explained, "most of the patients in the hospital were suffering from lifestyle related diseases. The medications and procedures didn't cure them, and many times resulted in complications. Many times we'd end up prescribing more medication and more procedures to deal with the complications. It wasn't an effective system." For four years she was with the same doctors and the same patients and nobody was ever getting better. It was just like putting bandaids on to cover up the bigger problems. Dr Mcilvena said to me, laughing, you know what MD should stand for? Managing. Disease. That's exactly what the medical practice is - we are trained to manage people's diseases." 

Finally in 2014 Dr Mcilvena was fortunate enough to finish her residency in Loma Linda, CA. In case you aren't familiar with this area, it's considered the only "Blue Zone" {communities around the world where people live the longest} in America. Here she was able to incorporate diet and nutrition in addition to her patients' pharmaceutical regime. She started to see progress when people changed their lifestyles. It made so much sense to Dr Mcilvena that she decided to focus on a more integrative and holistic approach to treating disease. 

In 2014, Dr Mcilvena opened her private practice in Encinitas, CA, devoted to chronic disease reversal. Her revolutionary approach to treating chronic disease focuses on whole food, plant-based nutrition and emphasizes healthy lifestyle changes over pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures.

Dr. Mcilvena believes passionately in the power of lifestyle medicine, and she lives this belief every day. She has personally practiced a plant-based diet for over 10 years and strives to maintain balance through daily exercise, yoga and meditation. She enjoys cooking, hiking, playing the ukulele and taking walks on the beach with her husband Dave.  

I asked her a few more personal questions as well that I have always wondered about fellow plant-based eaters. 

Juli: Do you ever doubt your choice to not eat meat or dairy? {considering Paleo diets are all the rage right now}.

Dr Mcilvena: No! There's just so much emerging evidence. The fat in animal meat has been shown to cause plaque in the arteries and increased risk of cancer and death. My patients vitals and labs also show progress when following this lifestyle - decreased blood sugars and cholesterol - plus they say they feel better than ever. 

J: What supplements do you take and recommend to patients going vegan?

M: B12 is the only supplement I take. I don't take too many vitamins. I think your diet should be clean with lots of plants and that should be enough. 

J: What is your favorite quick and healthy sauce?

M: Tahini, water and soy sauce blended up. Or a good cashew sauce. I do a water salt base and add all kinds of herbs or different flavors to this base depending on the dish. 

J: What about the amino acid and protein debate? What's your answer to that oh so common question? 

M: The protein combining, remember that? For the proper number of amino acids? That's not true any longer. The body can hang onto them until we get them all. And legumes, nuts, grains, plants, seaweed and seeds will get your all the amino acids you need. I love lentils. I don't even use a protein powders. I don't think they are necessary for me to get my protein needs.

J:  What does your typical evening look like, after you get off work?

M: After work usually looks like me taking about 30 mintues to relax before starting up dinner, after dinner I usually read. I take a break midday during the week to do yoga and go for a walk near the beach. 

J: When you splurge what do you splurge on? 

M: I usually splurge on Mexican food or indian food, out. I'm have a savory tooth much more than a sweet tooth. 

J: If you have children, will you raise them plant based? Or have you thought that far ahead?

M: My husband and I will most definitely raise our children plant-based. Our home will always be 100% plant based, when they are old enough to make their own decisions, we will support them in experimenting. The last thing that we will want to do is be so controlling over what they eat that they get turned off by plant-based. But having said that, home will always be a plant-based place {wink}.

J: Your favorite remedy for a cold/flu?

M: I ditched the chicken noodle soup of my childhood and replaced it with a delicious, comforting potato soup, which uses blended raw cashews to give it the creaminess I want, without butter or cream. 

Essential oil "steams" are a must for congestion, usually with rosemary or eucalyptus - it really helps clear the sinuses. I also tend to eat a lot of hot sauce for the same purpose. 

J: Any projects your working on other than seeing clients? Do you want to write a book or anything else of that kind?

M: I definitely aspire to write a book or two, I love writing and have since I was in high school. I'm also working on a project with my Startup company WellStart Health, we are looking to replicate the results I've seen in my plant-based patients, but take it to an exciting, new platform. 

A big THANK YOU to Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena for the wonderful tea date. I know my readers will be happy about this article. Your a total inspiration! 

For more about Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena visit her web site and below is the rest of her bio:

Along with board certifications in both Preventive Medicine and Integrative Medicine, Dr. Mcilvena holds a Master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in population health, behavior change and program planning. After graduating from the University of Missouri Kansas City Medical School in 2009, she moved to Phoenix, where she completed her internship in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Banner Good Samaritan and Phoenix Children’s Hospital. 


Dr. Mcilvena is a medical advisor and frequent contributor to SuperFoodsRX, a website devoted to disseminating evidence-based nutritional information.