Can Food Save the Life of Medicine?

Topics: Clinical Research, Drug Food Safety, Education, Environmental Health, Presentations, Santa Barbara, Volunteer Work, Wellness and Health
Teaching culinary medicine to medical students John La Puma

I gave a talk at UCSB’s Food Summit recently UCSB coverage here, which is part of the important University of California Global Food Initiative.  You can look at a condensed slideshare of the talk here, or check it out below.

My idea: food can save the life of medicine, and that higher education has a role to play: as an activist, a supporter of pilots, of a do-er, not just an analyst and research hub. And that crappy food makes you hungrier.

One of the most interesting facts that I uncovered: about 15% of  the U.S. is food insecure: they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.  The people who are some of the most food insecure are the people with the least money—including many students. High starch, high sugar, highly processed food boosts blood sugar and insulin levels, causing crashes and hunger within a couple of hours.

What a difference it could make if we began to look at food insecurity as a medical problem: doctors don’t recognize it in the office, because like much of nutrition, physicians are not trained in healthy eating, healthy eating meal plans, nutrition facts or even culinary medicine, though that is changing.  People who are food insecure are not necessarily skin and bones: they may even be obese: a 99 cent 2 liter soda, after all, has 800 calories.

Higher education needs a culinary rx for healthy eating and health care: college courses, food summits, and better food security and food policy.  A culinary medicine teaching garden on campus–every campus, including hospital campuses–could go a long way in demonstrating foods that stop hunger with nutritious calories, not empty ones.