What type of medicine requires no prescription, no pharmacy, and no clinical trials?
While food is not actually a drug, it certainly acts like medicine in the way it enhances health and helps prevent disease.
Eating sensibly can contribute immensely to managing weight and preventing the number one killer in the United States – heart disease. One great way to do that is through the Food is Medicine program that was developed by renowned research dietitian Mary Flynn, PhD, RD, LDN, and that I teach in a class that is free of charge to the community. Another excellent option is the DASH diet, which is touted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The Food is Medicine class provides demonstrations on how cooking healthily at home does not have to be time-consuming, difficult or costly. Participants learn how to prepare a variety of quick and easy plant-based recipes that contain no red meat, poultry or fish. The key ingredient in each of the recipes is extra virgin olive oil, which evidence has shown helps decrease your risk of obesity and related chronic diseases.
The recipes reflect a variety of cultural preferences, are nutritious and flavorful, and can be made on a tight budget – each costing less than $2 per serving.
The one-hour class is held in the evening and is virtual. That way participants can cook right along with the instructor in our demonstration kitchen and immediately enjoy the “fruits” of their labor.
The four-week course is free and is taught in both English and Spanish. All you need is an email address and an electronic device (computer, cell phone or tablet) to join. After completing the four sessions, participants receive a free cookbook and a bottle of extra virgin olive oil to help them adopt the diet at home. To learn about upcoming classes, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check the events page on the Lifespan website (www.lifespan.org).
Whether or not you are able to take the Food is Medicine class, you might want to try the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It originated in the 1990s as a healthy diet to help control blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The DASH diet differs from the Food is Medicine recipes in that it does allow for some beef, poultry and fish, but it strongly emphasizes eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It includes the following:
· eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day
· fat-free or low-fat dairy products
· fish and poultry
· beans and nuts
· vegetable oils
It includes limits on saturated fats, such as fatty meats; full-fat dairy products, tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils, and sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
The DASH diet helps lower blood pressure, blood glucose levels, triglycerides, cholesterol, and insulin resistance. It has also been proven in multiple studies to lower mortality in adults.
Food is, indeed, medicine. You just have to eat – and cook – wisely. And it does not have to be hard or break the bank.
Jeanette Nessett, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a community outreach specialist with the Lifespan Community Health Institute, which serves Newport Hospital. Health Matters appears monthly in The Daily News and on newportri.com.