Prescribe Food As Medicine
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates left us many important thoughts on health, including Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. While physicians around the world still pledge the Hippocratic Oath, too few receive any training in nutrition. As a result, the healthcare system overlooks the vital nature of food as a component of healing. As part of any care plan, health systems should prescribe food as medicine. We have to eat. What / When / How / With whom we eat makes a difference in our health. If we prescribe food as medicine and think holistically, we can improve care while reducing costs and improving quality of life. If patient engagement is important to your organization, then remember Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
Nutritious, plentiful food plays an outsized role in helping people recover from major illness or live with a chronic condition. In addition to cancer treatment, which requires patients to eat high-calorie meals, people with cardiovascular illnesses may benefit from low-sodium food, while those with type 2 diabetes can better manage their disease with meals that are low in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Across the country, an estimated one in eight Americans ― 42 million in total ― are food insecure. Not only does this mean that they may be experiencing hunger, but that the kinds of food they do eat are not nutritious enough to sustain an active, healthy life. At the same time, rates of chronic disease caused by poor nutrition are rising, and the more food insecure you are, the more likely you are to have chronic diseases like hypertension, coronary heart disease, hepatitis, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes and arthritis.
Despite its importance, food during an illness can often be an afterthought. Crucially, it is not covered by any medical insurance plan. Instead, people like Latney have to rely on nonprofits or charity to help them fill the nutrition gap, and not all cities have organizations that can help.
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