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Food as Medicine is Catching Fire

According to a feature which aired last night on the PBS NewsHour, more and more doctors across the country are prescribing healthy food, and more and more hospitals are building teaching kitchens for those doctors, in an effort to slow the rise of chronic diseases which are killing people and taxing the health care system.

The numbers are staggering. Half of all deaths from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are linked to poor diets, which adds up to 1,000 deaths across the country every day.

cooking instructionTraditionally, when patients come into the exam room with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, their doctor may give them “one prescription for their blood pressure, one prescription for their diabetes, [and] one prescription for their cholesterol, when, in reality, if you work on the underlying root problem, which may be poor diet and physical inactivity … fixing those can address all of the concerns at once,” according to Dr. Helen Delichatsios, a primary care physician quoted in the story.

In fact, a major study on diabetes prevention by the National Institutes of Health found that when people change their diet to lose weight and become more active, it can be more effective than medication in preventing the disease.

“The idea of eating healthy to prevent chronic disease is finally catching fire across the country.”

Here at Second Harvest Food Bank, we’ve been prioritizing healthy foods and active lifestyles for years. Our programs Passion For Produce and Food For Children distribute fresh produce and nutrition education to thousands of lower-income individuals and families across Santa Cruz County. At our gold sites, we provide over 300 peer-led classes per year on nutrition, meal preparation, menu planning, physical activity, and more, along with a healthy dose of social support to make healthy lifestyles stick.

Our focus on providing not just calories, but healthy categories, has earned us the title of second healthiest food bank of the 199 Feeding America food banks.

The idea of eating healthy to prevent chronic disease is finally catching fire across the country, and Second Harvest is proud to be punching above our weight.

So grab a carrot, grill some squash, or toss up a salad. It’s fresh food and good medicine, and might even help cure health care, too.

Watch the full PBS story here.

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