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March 2018

Creating an Oasis in the Mojave Desert

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In mid-October 2017, Mojave Desert Nutrition and Lifestyle Science Initiative (MDNI), a nonprofit organization and group that is part of the PlantPure Communities Pod Network, launched the 10-day Bullhead City Oasis Jumpstart Pilot. Over thirty people registered to participate in the Oasis Jumpstart Pilot, filling every available space within one week of enrollment commencement!

The nonprofit PlantPure Communities (PPC) created the Oasis Jumpstart Pilot Program motivated by the goal of empowering people to take control of their health. Through the Oasis Program, PPC partners with local groups to bring healthy food and science-based nutrition education to underserved neighborhoods across the country. The Oasis Jumpstart Pilots are modeled on the “Jumpstarts” conducted in Mebane, North Carolina, and documented in the 2015 PlantPure Nation film. Bullhead City Oasis Jumpstart participants were provided with whole food, plant-based meals to consume for a period of 10 days. Biomarker data was collected before and after the jumpstart period so participants could see first-hand the powerful impact that this diet change has on their bodies while simultaneously learning about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

The nonprofit MDNI’s mission is to create true health awareness and nutrition education though cutting-edge, evidence-based nutritional considerations and to debunk nutritional myths, and present a clear view on optimal health. MDNI was one of the first groups to join the PlantPure Communities Pod Network, which is comprised of over 450 independent local groups (also known as ‘Pods’) and people who promote the benefits of a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. Betty Rae and Dan Miller, the founders of MDNI, were inspired by their personal health journeys to bring the health message of plant-based food and nutrition to their community. Today, MDNI has a total following of over 10,000 people on their social media accounts!

“Mohave County and the local community leads the state of Arizona in obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also lead the state in prescribed medications for chronic disease and senior residents on a fixed income, and are third in the state for those living in a food desert with a 38% rate of food insecurity and 27% childhood poverty,” said Betty Rae, explaining the motivation to carry out the Oasis Jumpstart Pilot.

MDNI led the Oasis Jumpstart Pilot with the support of several other organizations. The Bullhead City Senior Nutrition Center donated the space for the pre- and post-Jumpstart events and also stored a portion of the frozen meals. The Caring Hearts Food Bank Ministry Inc. and Country Health Market stored all the meals until they were transported to the Senior Nutrition Center to be handed out to participants. In addition, Country Health Market gave MDNI permission to “pull” products for breakfast/snacks to display to the participants, and donated snacks for the pre-Jumpstart event. Caring Hearts also covered the cost for several low-income participants and provided bottled water, snacks, and fruit. Bullhead Urgent Care’s Dr. Don Wagner and MDNI played a support role taking additional biometrics.

A pre-Jumpstart event kicked off the Pilot, during which participants received nutrition education information, had their first round of biomarker testing, and received the Jumpstart meals. This testing provided a baseline for participants to gauge the effects of a plant-based diet.

Many of the participants expressed a desire to participate in the program because of personal health struggles, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and digestive problems.

Maria, 34, said she chose to participate because “I am a diabetic, overweight and have high blood pressure. I am very skeptical of weight loss programs and thought I would try this plant-based program based on my doctor’s recommendation. I am Mexican and I eat a lot of fatty foods, so because it was only 10 days it gave me an opportunity to try the food. After the 10 days, I found out that I could eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks and still add a lot of vegetables, beans, and rice. I felt satisfied and lost 3 inches around my waist and controlled my blood sugar to a normal range the entire time…the sugars reduced overall from 206 down to under 100.”

Over the course of the Pilot, doctors and educators taught participants how to shop in a grocery store, prepare simple, nutritious meals, and understand the science behind why this lifestyle is optimal for long-term health.

By the end of the program, participants saw significant positive changes. Many experienced large reductions in their cholesterol and blood pressure numbers. In addition, most were able to lose weight, while symptoms like fatigue, irritability, and constipation were also diminished or eliminated.

Mary, at 62 years old, was curious if she could eat only plants for 10 days. She remarked, “WOW, I got some great results, I cannot believe it! I got some really fantastic results! I raised my HDL and lowered my total cholesterol and lost inches from my waist, which was surprising. I am doing a happy dance I feel so fantastic. I am expanding my garden and plan to continue eating this way.”

Jeni, a 58-year-old executive church administrator, and her husband, Deacon Jerry, wanted to see what a difference 10 days could make to jumpstart them back into a healthy eating lifestyle. “We had tried the plantbased Daniel Fast before but were curious about this Oasis program. Our friends were doing it and it gave us an opportunity to immerse ourselves with healthier food and lifestyle choices. I personally experienced a lot of changes during the jumpstart and the biometrics reflected those changes. Not only did I feel more energy, but I lost weight, 4-1/2 inches from my waist and we each dropped over 20 points in our cholesterol. It was amazing!”

She continued, “… my husband exclaimed how delicious the new vegetable dishes were, particularly because he would not have eaten them before. It is amazing how quickly what you eat affects your health. I will be a lot more conscientious about what I prepare and what we eat in the future and will have continued confidence to try new plant-based recipes and strive to be primarily plant-based. It is just not natural to eat meat everyday – all day. When you realize what meat-eating does to your health, and how good you can feel by not doing a meatcentric diet… and see these numbers change so dramatically when eating plant-based. It will be our way of life from this point forward. We are getting older but this program has shown us it is not too late to make significant health changes by eating plant-based. I thank Betty and Dan and PlantPure Communities for allowing this program into our community.”

At the end of the program, MDNI hosted a Graduation Potluck meal for all the participants and handed out Certificates of Completion.

“Food-borne chronic disease in underserved neighborhoods is a fixable problem with science-based nutrition education, delicious plant-based recipes and meals, and hands-on learning,” pointed out Jody Kass, executive director of PlantPure Communities. Nelson Campbell, founder of PPC, and creator of the vision for the Oasis Program added, “Our goal is to make sure everyone has access to healthy food and nutrition education, regardless of their background, location, or socioeconomic status.”

For more information about the PPC Oasis Program contact and visit PPC’s website:


Volunteers in Medicine Chattanooga Oasis Story: Collaborative Oasis Pilot Changes Lives

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July 28, 2017 marked the beginning of a series of four Oasis Pilot Jumpstarts conducted by the nonprofit Volunteers in Medicine Chattanooga as a part of the PlantPure Communities Oasis Program and a study funded by CVS Health Foundation.

Volunteers in Medicine Chattanooga, Inc. (VIM Chattanooga) is a free full service medical clinic that provides primary and preventive health care to low-income individuals and families who otherwise have no access to public or private health insurance. In response to high rates of diabetes in its patient population, VIM Chattanooga launched a unique Lifestyle Education to Address Diabetes (LEAD) initiative with the first Oasis Pilot Jumpstart to help patients prevent, reverse, and manage diabetes. A key component of LEAD is the 21-day Oasis Jumpstart Program.

The Oasis Jumpstart Program was created by PlantPure Communities (PPC), a 501c3 nonprofit organization, with the goal of empowering participants to learn about the benefits of a plant-based diet, while enabling them to experience firsthand the powerful health impacts. The Oasis Pilots are modeled on the Jumpstarts conducted in Mebane, North Carolina that were documented in the 2015 PlantPure Nation film. As part of this Pilot, participants eat whole food, plant-based (WFPB) meals for a Jumpstart period of 21 days.

Dr. Lily Tyron

VIM Chattanooga received a $35,000 grant in 2017 from the CVS Health Foundation, a private charitable organization created by CVS Health, that works to build healthier communities, enabling people of all ages to lead healthy, productive lives. VIM Chattanooga is one of 33 clinics across the United States that received grant support from the CVS Health Foundation, as part of their strategic investments to nonprofit partners throughout the U.S., who help increase community-based access to healthcare for underserved populations, create innovative approaches to chronic disease management, and provide tobacco cessation and youth prevention programming.  To date, VIM Chattanooga has carried out three Oasis Jumpstarts in 2017, and the final Jumpstart will take place in January 2018.  Altogether, approximately 60 people will be involved in the VIM Chattanooga Oasis Pilots.

PPC’s partnership with VIM Chattanooga marked the first time PPC conducted an Oasis Pilot Jumpstart with a medical facility, which provided easy access to medical personnel and resources. Through the leadership and expertise of Ashley Evans, VIM Chattanooga’s Executive Director, and Dr. Lilly Tryon, who is running the day-to-day program and is also an Associate Professor of Nursing at Southern Adventist University, participants receive life-changing nutrition and lifestyle education.  

During the 21 days of the Jumpstart, Dr. Tryon and a team of nurse practitioner students provide participants with nutrition education, cooking demos, twice-weekly meetings, and motivational text messages. Biometric testing is conducted at the beginning and end of the Jumpstart. In addition, each participant’s biometric data will be tracked at 3-month intervals for twelve months. Dr. Tryon created a PlantPure Communities Pod to provide the important ongoing support participants need to maintain their new lifestyle.

Dr. James Marcum

Dr. Michael Hollie

During the monthly LEAD Connect Pod meetings, Dr. Tryon conducts film screenings, providescooking demos, and invites other medical professionals to speak to the group. Participants have benefitted from educational sessions led by Dr. James Marcum, Director of Heartwise Ministries (who also serves on the PPC Board of Advisors), and Dr. Michael Hollie, who serves on the board of directors of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

Executive Director Ashley Evans recognizes the barriers that often lead to poorer diabetes outcomes for disadvantaged patients and drive healthcare costs even higher. Underserved populations have been left behind for too long,” she mused. “Healthy lifestyles are difficult to maintain, but by providing a structured diet, nutrition information, and support, the Oasis JumpStart participants are now more than capable of changing their lives.  

Lynda and Danny

Initial outcomes are demonstrating the truth of her statement.  Although Danny, aged 63, has 9 stents, he was resistant, and attended the Jumpstart only at the request of his wife, Lynda.  However, three days into the Jumpstart, he had already decreased his insulin from 150 units to 75 units daily and announced, We are never going back to our old way of eating.  Danny is now down to 20 units daily, and his doctor is transitioning him to oral meds.  At the first 3-month biometric screening, Danny discovered that his long-standing elevated triglycerides had dropped to less than 50 (150 is the target) and his A1c dropped from 9.7% to 7.4%.  Danny reports that his doctor of over 30 years told him, you need to keep doing what youre doing, because Ive never seen you healthier. In addition, Danny’s children have lovingly questioned, “You’re not going to stop this are you?” Lynda also experienced dramatic health benefits after changing her diet.  Within a few days of eating a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet, she could move her hands freely after suffering from years of debilitating osteoarthritis.  By the end of the Jumpstart, her weight was down 6 pounds, fasting blood sugar dropped from 371 to 201, A1c decreased from 9.3% to 7.8%, and her Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms were gone. “Doctors have told me for years that I needed to lose weight, but this is the first time that someone has showed me how,” said Linda. She and Danny are now passing on this legacy of health to their grandchildren.  They also love to share their experiences with new Jumpstart participants.  

Participants from VM Jumpstart # 1 and Dr. Tryon

By the end of the 21-days, all 12 participants in the first Jumpstart saw positive changes in their health.  Nearly every participant had a drop in their A1c, with an average of drop of .5%.  Together they lost 83 lbs and 6.75 inches from their waistlines.  Although the participants joined the program to address diabetes, there have been many other positive outcomes, such as increased energy, improved gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, lower cholesterol levels, and discontinued or decreased blood pressure and diabetes medications.  Lisa, a participant who was particularly concerned about developing diabetes, proudly exclaimed, “I was prediabetic–but not anymore!”  

Dr. Tryon believes that the most rewarding results are the changes in diet and behavior.  One participant stated, “I am eating right for the first time, and I feel good again.” Her favorite comment was a text message received from Lynda about two weeks after the Jumpstart ended, “We are doing great and love our new way of eating.  Thank you for helping us.  It has changed our lives forever.”  Dr. Tryon is grateful for the support of PPC in making the Oasis Jumpstart a reality at VIM Chattanooga.  “We are so pleased with the preliminary results of this collaborative initiative that we plan to carry out a series of several more Jumpstarts in 2018.”

“Food-borne chronic disease in underserved neighborhoods is a fixable problem with science-based nutrition education, delicious plant-based recipes and meals, and hands-on learning,” pointed out Jody Kass, executive director of PlantPure Communities. Nelson Campbell, founder of PPC, and creator of the vision for the Oasis Program added, “Our goal is to make sure everyone has access to healthy food and nutrition education, regardless of their background, location, or socioeconomic status.”

For more information about the PPC Oasis Program contact and visit PPC’s website: