Food is Medicine

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Food is Medicine

Posted on 28th Mar 2019

Imagine for a moment that you have just received news from your physician that you have Type 2 Diabetes. They spend the next 10 minutes or so explaining “everything you should know” about Type 2 Diabetes, which includes how to check your blood sugar, when to take your Glucophage and something along the lines of carbohydrates counting. They then hand you the standard “how to” bag (or folder) full of more information and send you on your way. The moment you get home, you reach for your trusty bag of [insert ideal comfort food here] and take a seat on the couch to begin reading through some of the pamphlets. Overwhelming, right?  

Now, imagine this same situation for a second time, but instead of giving you an ominous “how to” bag/folder, your physician hands you a numerous healthy recipes, the contacts of helpful outside resources and a “prescription” for diabetes education.

The difference between these two scenarios can be life-changing. One sends you down a path of confusion and desperation, and the other gives you tools that will help you regain control of your life and succeed in managing and improving your newly diagnosed chronic disease.

Over the past few decades, research has emerged supporting the idea that “food is medicine.” In 2017, Geisinger Health System launched a new diabetes education program called, “Fresh Food Farmacy.” Research has revealed that proper diet and exercise can be equally as effective as medication in preventing and improving conditions related to Type 2 Diabetes. Participants involved in the Fresh Food Farmacy program have lost significant amounts of weight and improved their Hgb A1c levels by focusing on a healthy diet and regular physical activity. In order to be eligible for the Fresh Food Farmacy program, participants must have a Hgb A1c level of 8 or higher and quality as being food insecure. Participants are “prescribed” for the program by their physician. Yes, you heard that correctly. Some physicians are prescribing diabetes education to their patients either in place of, or in conjunction with diabetes medications.

One idea that we, at Food Fitness First, Inc., agree could be the next best attempt at fostering healthier eating habits for individuals is by increasing the engagement rate, or participation of different groups in society in order to educate and incentivize the public. What does this mean? It means that if medical offices, grocery stores, every day businesses, health insurance companies and even government entities work together to offer promotions and support for those that need or want to be healthier, we can see greater success rates.

Another great model of this effort is the Healthy Savings Program. This program allows individuals at partnered health insurance companies to get discounts for purchasing healthy foods at their local grocery stores. The purpose is to address 3 “pain points” that are associated with healthy living: Cost, Access and Education (Awareness). On the Healthy Savings Website, one user shared that they lost 35 pounds in 2017 thanks to the program.

With increasing communication and agreement that food can improve the health, and therefore, overall lives of chronic disease patients all over the world, there is a high chance that we will start seeing lab values that indicate the US is becoming a more healthy country.

We would love to hear your thoughts on “food is medicine.” Share them with us on our Facebook page!



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By: Olivia Tompkins and Sydney Bishop, RDN, LDN


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