Let’s start prescribing food as medicine
Let's start prescribing food as medicine. While food cannot replace medication entirely, food can be a tool to help maintain, preserve, prevent, reverse and treat disease. Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes, are the leading contributors to deaths and high healthcare costs for many families across the country. Controlling or even preventing chronic diseases would make a substantial difference in our everyday health and reduce family health care costs.
Diet-related disease is a leading cause of death and disability in USA
There is an easy and inexpensive way to move toward this goal: eat healthy food. Our food has been slowly killing us. Diet-related diseases (such as cardiovascular disease) are both the number one cause of death and the number one cause of disability in the United States, according to a 2019 report. The report concluded, “Among all forms of malnutrition, poor dietary habits, particularly low intake of healthy foods, is the leading risk factor for mortality.”
American diets are high in sugar, sodium, and saturated fat
What we eat is the main culprit behind many chronic diseases. American diets are high in added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat commonly found in processed foods. Processed foods are developed to be addictive and make you eat more, but that tends to be bad for your health. Over the past 30 years, fast-food restaurants have adopted this flavor profile. As a result, people have become more sick with increased rates of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
A diet rich in leafy greens, beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, combined with an active lifestyle, can be the best medicine.
Food is the problem, but food can also be the solution
Food is the problem, but food can also be the solution. Using food as preventative medicine can keep us healthy. Eating a healthier diet can help prevent and treat the most common of these debilitating conditions. While food cannot replace medication entirely, a whole-food, mostly plant-based Mediterranean style diet is the foundation for healthier people and a healthier planet.
If you’re sick, eating nutritious food could help
The concept of food as medicine is simple. If chronically ill people eat a nutritious diet, they may need less medications, reduce emergency room visits, and require fewer hospital admissions. Food acts as medicine--to maintain health and prevent diseases. According to the Food is Medicine coalition, Food Is Medicine interventions consist of healthy foods that are tailored to meet individuals' specific health needs affected by diet.
For example, up to 90 percent of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented by keeping your weight under control by exercising and eating a healthy diet, and not smoking. A mostly plant-based diet, with some carefully selected animal proteins, is your best dietary approach for longevity. A diet rich in leafy greens, beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, combined with an active lifestyle, can be the best medicine.
Limited access to healthy food
Fast food has become more prevalent across the USA. As well, many communities don't have access to proper grocery stores, known as food deserts or food swamps. Often, the only source of food can be convenience stores, gas stations, or fast food restaurants. This results in less access to healthier food and fewer fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s one reason why Performance Kitchen’s CEO Christine Day joined the company. Her mother had type 2 diabetes and Christine found it hard to find convenient, nutritious, ready-made meals for her father to prepare. She made it part of her mission to ensure that Performance Kitchen’s meals are nutritious, accessible, and affordable so that everyone can access healthy meals.
A mostly plant-based diet, with some carefully selected animal proteins, is your best dietary approach for longevity.
All diets do not work for everyone
The same diet does not work for everyone. Different clinical conditions require different meals, foods, and beverages. Certain eating patterns can be as effective as prescription medications for some health conditions. These include:
- Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and more
- The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet for blood pressure
- Plant-based diet for a variety of conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes
- An anti-inflammatory eating pattern for rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases
- Diets for gut health, including a low FODMAP diet
Think about food as fuel
All of these diets focus on the foundation of a mostly whole-food, plant-based food plans. Think about food as fuel: the food we eat gives our bodies the "information" to function properly. If we don't get the right information then our metabolic processes suffer and our health declines. What we eat matters!
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding diet.
This article has been reviewed by a Medical Doctor, Dr. Robert Graham, for additional accuracy.