This Week’s Food as Medicine Roundup, August 9th, 2019

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Thank you for checking out this week’s edition of our Food as Medicine News Roundup (#FaMNR)! Twice a month, I’ll share a collection of important and trending articles in the Food as Medicine space. 


 
 
 
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As a registered dietitian, Sahra brings her extensive experience in health care and public health to Lighter to improve the health of the population through effective communication, sustainable behavior modification approaches and upstream intervention strategies. Through her work with Los Angeles and Solano County Departments of Public Health, Kaiser Permanente, and partnering with health advocacy organizations such as CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest), Sahra has helped create sustainable food systems, adapted public policy, implemented environmental change, and health education programs. 


 
 
 

“He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician.”

Chinese proverb

 
 

Why food as medicine? 

The leading causes of death and disability and the top drivers of our nation’s $3.3 trillion annual health care costs are chronic diseases that can include physical and mental conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. 


More than 90% of annual healthcare costs are due to preventable chronic diseases.


Currently, 60% of adults in the U.S. live with at least one chronic disease and more than 40% live with two or more. One of the key risks for developing chronic disease is poor nutrition. Globally, unhealthy diets and/or lack of access to healthful foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are responsible for over 11 million deaths. Chronic illnesses benefit significantly when food as medicine is incorporated into our healthcare system. That’s why YOU have the power to address the root cause of our chronic disease crisis and we are here to join you in the healthcare revolution! 

So, sit back, relax and read on. May we suggest some blueberries to snack on while you read?


Embracing food as medicine to advance systems change 

Collaboration, cooperation, and action moves the needle for getting food as medicine not only to the patients in need but to policymakers to implement legislation changes. This month, Food Is Medicine, a coalition stemming from a team at the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School met with Island stakeholders at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) to discuss opportunities to integrate and offer vital nutrition services to elevate patient health outcomes. “Food and nutrition are at the cornerstone of health and wellness,” said hospital CEO Denise Schepici. The coalition is dedicated to connecting food and nutrition to health through healthcare and food systems and policy changes. They intend to meet each year. Read on here to find out how MVH is adopting Food Is Medicine initiatives to make positive changes for the hospital, patients, and the community. 

The gut microbiome & food as medicine

Although the notion that our bodies have more bugs, or microbes, than cells is under continual scrutiny, we can safely say that there are trillions of microbes that sustain and work symbiotically with our bodies to maintain our equilibrium. In this recent article, the authors share the role food plays on our microbiome and how it affects our health conditions, including chronic diseases and even mental health issues such as depression. The authors note that “One of the most exciting aspects of the food as medicine approach is the unlimited ways in which it can positively influence the health and well-being of all involved and advance our understanding of the influence of diet on genetic expression.” Our gut microbiome is affected by what we eat, and balanced, plant-centric diets have been found to improve both our gut flora and reduce the risk of chronic disease, resulting in a renewed focus on the potential of food as medicine in the healthcare space. 


Food and nutrition steal the show at healthcare providers’ conference (ICNM 2019)

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences hosted the 7th-annual International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine (ICNM) in Washington D.C. in July. Over 800 healthcare providers including physicians, dietitians, nurses and more met to hear the latest science behind nutrition on health from over 25 experts on areas such as metabolism, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer prevention. 

Evidence-based nutrition and using food as medicine can not only help with preventing many chronic diseases, but at times reverse the condition. When chronic diseases account for over 70% of deaths in the U.S., staying on top of nutrition science and utilizing food as medicine in your practice can bring powerful results for your patients and cost savings for your practice. ICNM is already gearing up for 2020.  Join the thousands of healthcare providers who are working toward applying food as medicine strategies, and let’s support true health!  


Lifestyle factors may be most effective in reducing dementia and Alzheimer’s risk

Have you heard of the term, brain food? The food that you eat affects your cognitive development, maintenance, and health. The food that your patients eat will either feed dementia (which includes Alzheimer’s) or fuel cognition, mental health, and memory improvement. For over three decades, researchers thought that the cure for Alzheimer’s was in removing the build-up of a type of protein in the brain. However, after multiple failures of drugs and costly trials, researchers are now considering reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s through lifestyle modification strategies such as a diet that consists of whole foods that reduce and prevent inflammation in the body and brain. 


Living a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of chronic diseases by 60% and hospitalizations by 20%. 


Miia Kivipelto, a professor, senior geriatrician, and director of Research, Development, Education and Innovation at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm emphasized the power of healthy lifestyle interventions ⏤ “Your health-related quality of life is much better. You feel better.” It’s never too late. Find out further on the six basic lifestyle changes that your patients can practice to prevent and reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s, today! 


Enjoy your week filled with foods that hug you back. Here’s to food as medicine!


Sahra Pak