By Lenora S. Dernoga


Happy New Year! It’s a classic time for resolutions, and one of the best ones you can make is to transition to a healthier diet. Especially now, during cold and flu season, study after study has shown that a diet rich in whole, plant-based foods is one of the best ways to boost your immune system, prevent diseases and maintain a healthy weight. Eating more plant-based foods can help you experience your best quality of life.


“A diet that focuses on eating plants will increase your intake of phytonutrients and fiber, which are protective for your health,” said Elizabeth Owens, director of applied integrative health at Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH). “Focusing on whole foods will also help minimize the intake of harmful processed foods.”  

Located on Montpelier Road in Laurel, MUIH emphasizes nutrition in its wellness plans. The university trains students to conduct nutrition assessments for each client, looking at their dietary intake, nutritional needs, lifestyle and medical history. By looking at the entire picture of a person’s health, students can help determine which foods to emphasize or minimize to help the client reach their health goals while addressing their medical concerns.


“We see many people who would benefit from eating more plants,” Owens said. “Our students are trained to take a holistic approach and guide clients in including colorful plant foods into their diet, as well as whole food plant-based cooking.” 

Research has shown that many chronic diseases can be managed or even prevented using medical nutrition therapy. If you are interested in MUIH’s nutrition programs and educational degrees, or if you think you could benefit from nutrition guidance, go to for more info. 

Here’s a healthy, plant-based recipe that’s perfect for winter. 

Smoky coconut lentil stew:

Lentils are a protein-packed legume that contain almost no fat.