This quote has been attributed to Hippocrates who is considered to be the father of western medicine. With the growing epidemic of chronic disease, this age old adage is more apropos than ever. In the U.S., the 7 out of every 10 deaths and 77% of national health expenditures can be attributed to 3 major chronic diseases: Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer and Diabetes. All three of these major disease categories develop over time as a result of how we live our life. In particular, our food choices can make major impact on our health by contributing to the prevention of these chronic diseases. It is a wonder then why we as physicians get so little formal training in nutrition. The most recent survey of U.S. medical schools conducted in 2012 showed an average of only 19.6 hours of nutrition throughout the entire 4 year medical school curriculum. Instead of learning about therapeutic food options for our patients, we are limited to medications and surgical interventions as a means to treat our patients. Given the epidemic of chronic disease and the real impact that our food choices have for our individual and collective health, I think it is time that we return to our roots (no pun intended) and let food be our medicine.
I will be exploring this topic further with new blog entries on how food can be our best medicine to treat and prevent Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and most forms of Cancer. As a physician I routinely give my patients food prescriptions to fit their individual needs and teach them how to make healthy food choices to prepare meals that are tasty and medicinal for their particular health conditions. As a lecturer and educator, I am expanding my teaching activities at Stanford Medical School and speaking engagements internationally to include a new series on Food as Medicine for the chronic diseases of our time. I look forward to your feedback and hope that this blog will be helpful to you as we begin to explore foods for a healthier life. As always, with any food or lifestyle changes, please consult with your personal physician before making any modifications to your diet or daily activities.