ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The list of health problems caused by being overweight seems endless, including type two diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, and kidney disease according to the NIH. But the answer to these ailments is simpler than you might think. Researchers at Tufts University are proving that eating an apple a day really does keep the doctor away! And that confirms this doctor’s advice. Food is medicine.“There’s a growing body of evidence that shows that healthy nutrition and medically tailored meals can significantly improve overall health outcomes,” stated Richard Seidman, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, L.A. Care Health Plan.
A recent study looked at the economic and health benefits that would occur if 30 percent of the cost of healthy food were covered by insurance for those with Medicare and Medicaid. Those healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, seafood and plant-based oils.
“There’s so much evidence that the more we eat that’s plant-based, that’s not processed, so fresh from garden to kitchen is the direction to lean in,” Dr. Seidman continued.
The model found that healthy food prescriptions could be more effective than certain drug treatments. And over a lifetime it would prevent more than three million cardiovascular disease cases, prevent over 120 thousand diabetes cases, and save 102 billion dollars in healthcare costs. The researchers say this finding supports the concept that food is medicine.
Healthline.com says the top three healthiest vegetables are spinach, carrots and broccoli. And top three fruits are grapefruit, pineapple, and avocado. This study was part of a collaboration of researchers working to identify cost effective strategies to improve health in the U.S.
Contributors to this news report include: Hayley Hudson, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
RESEARCHERS SAY FOOD IS MEDICINE!
BACKGROUND: Typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in calories from solid fats and added sugars, refined grains, sodium, and saturated fat. Americans eat less than the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, dairy products, and oils. And, about 90% of Americans eat more sodium than is recommended for a healthy diet. More than 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in food deserts, or areas that are more than a mile away from a supermarket. Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40 percent of total daily calories for 2–18 year olds and half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk. Food safety awareness goes hand-in-hand with nutrition education. In the United States, food-borne agents affect 1 out of 6 individuals and cause approximately 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year.
FOOD AS MEDICINE PROGRAM: Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center, part of the St. Joseph Hoag Health alliance, “Shop with Your Doc” program sends doctors to the grocery store to meet with any patients who sign up for the service, plus any other shoppers who happen by with questions. “In America, over 50 percent of our food is processed food, and only 5 percent of our food is plant-based food. I think we should try to reverse that,” said Dr. Daniel Nadeau, physician and program director at the center. Nadeau is part of a small revolution brewing across California. The food as medicine movement has been around for decades, and is making its mark as physicians and medical institutions make food a formal part of treatment, rather than relying solely on medications. By prescribing nutritional changes or launching programs such as “Shop with Your Doc,” they’re trying to prevent, limit or even reverse disease by changing what patients eat. Research on the power of food to treat or reverse disease is beginning to accumulate, but that doesn’t mean diet alone is always the solution, or that every illness can benefit substantially from dietary changes.
THE FUTURE OF NUTRITIONAL BREAKTHROUGHS: Nan Allison, MS, RD, LDN out of Nashville believes there are two areas in which emerging research will lead to a revolution in not only nutrition therapy and nutrition guidance for day to day eating, but how medicine is practiced: genetics and our microbiome. Individuals will be tested for their genetic profiles to guide not only food choices but eating patterns. Also, many will be assessed for our intestinal microbiome profile and traditional treatments for diseases will be augmented or replaced by bacterial therapies and supported by nutrition targeted to one’s genetic profile. This may change how we view and interact with food socially and emotionally. Nutrition expert, Jeanette Bronee, CHHC, AADP in New York says, “The breakthrough that I hope will happen is that we become primarily, or even completely, plant-based eaters.” With extreme focus on avoiding carbs, instead of educating about which carbs to avoid and which to include (plants), the recommendation has been to eat more protein. But with that, we have also become excessive meat eaters and most do not know that plants also provide protein.
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Richard Seidman, MD, MPH
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