The inclusion of nutrition as medicine as a core topic at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health is a major stride forward. The conference stressed the need to develop policies that more intimately tie nutrition to healthcare—both as preventative and treatment measures.
As long ago as 440 B.C. Hippocrates said, “Let medicine be thy food and food be thy medicine.” For hundreds of years many people did indeed follow this advice. They lived on the land and used natural remedies to stay healthy.
The industrial revolution and World War II changed our eating habits dramatically and we’ve become dependent on processed food for quick, convenient meals. Unfortunately, these processed foods don’t contain the nutrients we need for our bodies to stay healthy.
In 1935 Dr. Royal Lee, known as the father of nutrition said, “The problem with refined food is that it is just calories devoid of nutrition.”
There is a ton of evidence that certain chronic diseases are closely connected to what we eat. For example, only one in eight Americans are achieving optimal metabolic health. Poor metabolic health leaves people more vulnerable to developing Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health issues.
Speaking at the White House conference, Rajiv Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, cited data from Tufts University that suggests that a 30 percent subsidy for fruit and vegetable purchases via Medicare and Medicaid could prevent nearly 2 million cardiovascular events and more than 300,000 premature deaths, potentially saving the U.S. healthcare system $40 billion. That’s a huge impact just by changing what we eat.
How you can change your family’s health with food
The White House Conference was focused on the bigger picture and the health of the American population. However, you can take these ideas and research statistics and apply them to your family.
The first and most important change is to start eating fresh, whole food rather than processed food. Look for food sources that were either grown in soil – such as vegetables – or protein that came from an animal without first being processed in a factory of some kind.
You’re more likely to find these foods on the outer aisles of a store. That’s where the produce section, the dairy section and the butcher shop is.
It may seem difficult at first. After all, fast food is convenient and well, fast. However, keep the end goal in mind. Your family’s health is at stake. What they eat today will determine how healthy or unhealthy they are in the future. While processed convenient foods may be quick and taste good due to all the additives they have in them, those meals in boxes have been processed and packaged. They have all kinds of additives to keep them from going off, as well as improve the taste. Almost all processed food has a lot of sugar in it.
Learn to read labels on the food packages. If you see some words on the label that you don’t recognize and can’t pronounce, you can be sure it’s not good for you!
Your body needs real nutrients to repair itself and build strong bones and cells. You get those nutrients from real, whole food. Take Rajiv Shah’s research to heart. Just improving your intake of fruits and vegetables by 30 percent could go a long way towards preventing cardiovascular and other diseases in your family.