Just in time for Thanksgiving: An inspiring guest blog from ChefMd Dr. John La Pluma:
When Dr. Michael Roizen and I taught the first cooking and nutrition class to medical students (at SUNY, in 2003), we started with a simple idea: your doctor should know the basics about food, its preparation and how it affects your health—for good or for ill.
The medical students voted with their feet: the first year, 12 signed up. The next year, 65.
Food can be powerful and delicious medicine.
Thomas Edison said, “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” And I would add, with cooking.
Why cooking? Because even simple cooking perks up flavor, pleasure and health. It’s easier than most people think. Knowing a little about cooking can save your life.
And while some of us like it raw, and that’s good too, cooking just a little helps you absorb nutrients from some foods. You get four times as much heart-protecting lycopene from a cooked tomato than from a raw one. You absorb more fiber from a cooked carrot than a raw one. You more easily digest the protein in a steak if it is cooked rather than raw.
Learning about food is the most important thing you can do for your health—no doctor required. Because most of the $2.5 trillion we spend on health care in the U.S. goes for hospital costs and clinical services. And most of that goes for food and lifestyle-related diseases: obesity, heart disease, many cancers, chronic back pain, arthritis and much more.
Having a food lover’s roadmap to choosing the right foods is life-changing because you have more control than you thought: at least 70% of heart disease is preventable, and at least 80% of cancer is preventable.
Sadly, some food can hurt. Early exposure to highly processed food–high fat, high salt, high sugar—may unfavorably change how infants perceive appetite, satiety and desire. In short, you are also what your Mom eats, if you’re an infant.
Yet, imagine if doctors wrote recipes on prescription slips, and you could take them to be filled at farmers’ markets and supermarkets or in your corporate wellness program? Imagine if Medicare and other insurers covered recipes like my Papaya Filled with Gingered Blueberries for the common cold? Or Quick Steel Cut Oats with Ginger, Apples and Walnuts for constipation? Or my 4 ingredient 5 minute Chocolate Blackberry Breakfast Smoothie for depression?
Imagine if there were simple, low-tech and low-cost ways for the body to heal itself with food as medicine too, and if you were in control of that.
That you don’t have to imagine, because it’s already here.
Whole, real, fresh food that you or someone you know has cooked is the most powerful medicine there is to look and feel better. The cure is in the kitchen, and the kitchen must become as crucial as the clinic.
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