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DCHS Faculty Collaborate on Plant-Based Diet Research

Saint Louis University (SLU) Program in Health Sciences Assistant Professor Elaina Osterbur, Ph.D., and Physician Assistant Education Program Professor Christine Werner, Ph.D., PA-C, RD, collaborated to create the research article Decoding Plant-Based and Other Popular Diets: Ensuring Patients are Meeting Their Nutrient Needs. The article was published in Physician Assistant Clinics Journal. The article examines various vegetarian diets and other popular diets such as the Mediterranean diet, Paleo diet and intermittent fasting and their effects on health.

Chris Werner and Elaina Osterbur
SLU Physician Assistant Professor Christine Werner, Ph.D., PA-C (left), and Health Sciences Assistant Professor Elaina Osterbur, Ph.D. (right), recently collaborated on a research paper about the effects of various popular diets on a patient's health.

Drs. Werner and Osterbur found that vegetarianism and its varying forms are considered safe and nutritious with appropriate meal planning. The Mediterranean diet tends to be the easiest of the options to follow, the Paleo diet may promote overconsumption of meat while possibly leading to nutrient deficiencies over time and intermittent fasting can be safe and effective for adults but is not recommended for some at-risk groups or children.

The Physician Assistant Clinics Journal invited Dr. Werner to submit a manuscript about a nutrition topic last fall and she was eager to study these diets.

“It was an honor to have been personally invited to submit an evidence-based clinical review on plant-based diets and other popular diets because of my academic training as a physician assistant and in human nutrition and foods,” Dr. Werner said. 

Dr. Werner sought out Dr. Osterbur as a colleague with whom she could collaborate on the research because of their complementing knowledge base and skill sets.

“I asked Dr. Osterbur to collaborate with me on this research to provide the epidemiological aspects of the diet patterns we studied,” Dr. Werner said. “We worked well together to provide a comprehensive review that can hopefully serve as a quick reference guide to the everyday healthcare provider.”

Dr. Osterbur was happy to join Dr. Werner on this research and was confident the two of them could produce very high-quality work.

“I was originally interested in this project because, as an epidemiologist, I was interested in how diet affects disease states,” Dr. Osterbur said. “As a physician assistant and a registered dietitian, Dr. Werner has a great deal of knowledge in nutrition planning in practice. She is also a very thorough and conscientious colleague, and I knew we would work well together on this article.”

Drs. Werner and Osterbur do not have plans to further this research as of now, but Dr. Werner did mention being interested in updating the research if/when more popular diet trends arise.

Read Decoding Plant-Based and Other Popular Diets: Ensuring Patients are Meeting Their Nutrient Needs

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