The fact that diet can impact an individual’s health is well recognized by healthcare professionals around the world. People who have access to adequate nutrition are more likely to have a strong immune system, a safer pregnancy and birth, a lower risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and live longer.
The reasons for this are many, complex and not yet well understood. Some research has shown that a diet high in added sugar, saturated and trans fat, and excess sodium can induce it
Experts believe this diet supports good health through its potential to reduce harmful risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including inflammation, high
Additionally, research also shows that carotenoids – antioxidants naturally found in some vegetables and fruits – in the diet can improve the blood metabolites of people with
Decades of scientific breakthroughs support the pivotal role of diet
According to 2020-2025
- Whole grains
- low-fat and low-fat dairy products
- lean proteins
- healthy fats and oils.
Intake of sugar, salt, saturated fat, and alcohol should be limited for good health.
There is no single definition of the concept of “food as medicine”, but it generally refers to the priority of food and diet in an individual’s health plan, with the aim of preventing, reducing symptoms or reversing a disease state.
It focuses on increasing the consumption of a variety of whole and minimally processed plant foods and limited intake of highly processed foods rich in added sugar, oil and salt.
Foods that proponents claim have medicinal properties, often due to allegedly elevated levels of a particular micronutrient or biomolecule, sometimes referred to as
These include a variety of herbs and spices, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.
The “food as medicine” approach to health management challenges the construct of conventional medicine, which relies primarily on medical advances in managing health and disease with drugs.
It is worth noting that conventional Western medicine prescribes dietary and lifestyle changes as a first-line treatment for some conditions, particularly polycystic ovary syndrome (
However, the focus is on the balance of macronutrients in the diet, and there is still little clarity as to what it should look like in humans, as outlined in an article published in
Here are some benefits of a “food as medicine” healthcare approach.
For example, an increase in dietary fiber
Improvements in diet quality can also reduce disease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Likewise, observational studies have identified that a healthful diet while treating breast cancer can
The prevalence of chronic disease has increased worldwide, along with associated health care costs.
In 2010, an estimate
The use of “food as medicine” could conceivably reduce healthcare costs by potentially reducing disease severity through better laboratory work, fewer drugs and fewer hospitalizations.
However, the problems and policies surrounding food and apartheid
“Food as medicine”, however, is not a flawless approach. Here are some of its limitations.
It is not a cure-all
“Food as Medicine” is not a stand-alone remedy for all health conditions.
Therefore, while “food as medicine” can support disease management by improving symptoms and slowing disease progression in some diseases, it should not be used as a standalone treatment, rather in combination with adequate medical therapy.
Fueled by misinformation
However, it can also be a source of misinformation and sharing of unverifiable information, especially regarding “food as medicine” or alternative medicinal therapies.
s described in Food is not medicine by nutritionist Dr. Joshua Wolrich, the defamation of individual foods can lead to unhealthy eating behaviors.
It is also important to consider how foods interact with medications. This is referred to as
A common example is grapefruit juice, which doctors often advise should be
Drug-nutrient interactions must be considered for the perfect relationship between “food as medicine” and appropriate medical interventions in the best interest of patient care.
“Food as medicine” may be an emerging concept in the Western world, but many cultures around the world have long recognized the role of diet in health.
Various healthy diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products could reduce the risk associated with developing chronic disease, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
However, “food as medicine” is not a cure for everyone and should be used in conjunction with appropriate medical treatment.