President’s Note: Food – the Best Medicine?

Every morning I look over some headlines in national news publications online, and occasionally one strikes me as important. The following article was one of those, but in the field of sustainable agriculture, it seems obvious.

This president’s note is about an article from Time magazine, titled “Why Food Could Be the Best Medicine of All.”

The article is about how the medical field is finding ways to help patients adjust their diets, and the positive results they are seeing. Some insurance companies have taken note.

While I applaud the effort and the results, I thought this was obvious. Good food helps maintain good health.

While this is to me intuitive and obvious, the article does point out one problem. How do we change the eating habits of individuals in today’s society? It gives several examples of programs working on this.

Implementing such programs has several challenges. Medicine is designed to treat individual issues (blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol) rapidly, while food and exercise can have the same results, but take longer. The article also points out how difficult it is to tie an individual’s diet to preventing certain diseases.

To me the basic takeaway is that a healthy diet is beneficial no matter what age you are or what health issues you may face in the future. The difficulty is changing your eating habits to be consistently healthy in a society where we are always on the go and feel forced to eat quickly and move on with the day.

I know it is challenging for me. I am prone to kidney stones and while I have never been diagnosed with diabetes and heart disease, they run in my family.

Let’s think about taking a trip and stopping at a gas station and going in to pick up a quick snack. In my case you avoid foods high in oxalic acids (chocolate, blueberries) to reduce the risk of kidney stones. Diabetes means you avoid sugar, and heart disease means you watch your calorie intake, along with salt.

What is available for you in a gas station convenience store? A bottle of water and sugar free gum?

Our society makes it easy to have a poor diet and difficult to develop good dietary habits. It takes effort to eat well. We are driven by speed and convenience. Creating foods with a long shelf life is important to this model, but doesn’t work for less processed and healthier foods. I don’t have a solution for the problem, but it is nice to see articles pointing out the issue.

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