Summary of “Why Food Could Be the Best Medicine of All”

Launched in 2017 by the Geisinger Health System at one of its community hospitals, the Fresh Food Farmacy provides healthy foods-heavy on fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-sodium options-to patients in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, and teaches them how to incorporate those foods into their daily diet.
Geisinger’s program is one of a number of groundbreaking efforts that finally consider food a critical part of a patient’s medical care-and treat food as medicine that can have as much power to heal as drugs.
Food is becoming a particular focus of doctors, hospitals, insurers and even employers who are frustrated by the slow progress of drug treatments in reducing food-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and even cancer.
Early last year, Congress assigned a first ever bipartisan Food Is Medicine working group to explore how government-sponsored food programs could address hunger and also lower burgeoning health care costs borne by Medicare when it comes to complications of chronic diseases.
“The idea of food as medicine is not only an idea whose time has come,” says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
The power of food as medicine gained scientific credibility in 2002, when the U.S. government released results of a study that pitted a diet and exercise program against a drug treatment for Type 2 diabetes.
Not all doctors agree that the science supports administering food like drugs, but he’s hoping the controversial idea will prompt more researchers to study food in ways as scientifically rigorous as possible and generate stronger data in coming years.
Talking about food in terms of doses might push more doctors to put down their prescription pads and start going over grocery lists with their patients instead. So far, the several hundred people like Shicowich who rely on the Fresh Food Farmacy have lowered their risk of serious diabetes complications by 40% and cut hospitalizations by 70% compared with other diabetic people in the area who don’t have access to the program.

The orginal article.