How would you react if your physician handed you a prescription that said, “Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday,” instead of your usual medication?
More Americans are about to find out. Using food as medicine is the future of healthcare. Both preventive and prescriptive medicine are adopting a “food as medicine” mindset because nutritional science says it works. We will soon be handing patients grocery bags filled with real, fresh foods along with a referral to see a registered dietitian, instead of handing them a bottle of pills.
Food as Medicine for Health Prevention
At the Fresh Food Pharmacy at Geisinger Health System, patients with chronic diseases like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes were a part of a pilot program that tested this idea. Patients met one-on-one with a registered dietitian, attended healthy eating and wellness workshops and were given the fresh food prescription they needed to thwart complications of chronic diseases, such as amputations, kidney disease and blindness. Physicians reported widespread improvements in hemoglobin A1c levels, reduced blood pressure readings, and significant lifestyle adjustments, such as increased participation in physical activities and cooking at home.
This Fresh Food Pharmacy isn’t the first of its kind. Fruit and vegetable prescriptions have existed for several years and have helped numerous adults and children lose weight, prevent chronic conditions, and even reverse disease. Good nutrition is the cornerstone of avoiding preventable diseases and deaths and with obesity rates higher than ever before, having the knowledge and ability to choose healthy food is essential.
This is especially true in underserved communities, which are often referred to as food deserts, because healthy food is even harder to access in these neighborhoods. This is one reason Healthie has partnered with community programs, such as WIC in community medical centers in California, Baraka Wellness and several grocery store chains to help spread quality nutrition care. After all, first-class nutrition care doesn’t have to stop at traditional medical settings, such as hospitals and clinics. Grocery stores and retail pharmacies can become “farmacies,” with in-house dietitians working alongside individuals to fulfill a nutrition prescription.
At Healthie, we believe quality nutritional care should be accessible to all Americans because nutrition professionals have the ability to change patient lives. When using the Healthie platform, our dietitians across multiple settings report improved compliance, greater accountability, better outcomes and a larger breadth of reach, which means more individuals are receiving quality nutrition care everyday.
What Will Happen When Fresh Food Pharmacy Programs Become the Norm?
More patients will have access to better food and science-based nutrition information.
More individuals will be able to prevent and reverse chronic diseases.
More dietitians will be able to influence patient outcomes and provide quality care.
And we can’t wait to watch the fresh food pharmacy movement spread throughout our healthcare systems.
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