Clinical Research in Culinary Medicine: TEDMED

Topics: Celebrity, ChefMD's Big Book of Culinary Medicine, Diabetes, Food Benefits, Obesity and Weight Loss, Presentations, Wellness and Health

Clinical research in culinary medicine: by my count there are thousands of peer-reviewed articles, though a search of PubMed doesn’t yet find the keyword phrase.

Up until late 2007 I catalogued them for 40 different conditions and 50 foods in ChefMD’s Big Book of Culinary Medicine; since they, many more papers, books and videos* have been published.

Two recent culinary medicine studies that just came across my desk: olive oil consumption shortens wound healing time (a randomized controlled trial) and plant-based diet for Crohn’s disease (in contrast to the “diet has no role” screed from a GI doc at the University of Chicago earlier this month: once again, patient experience tops calcified conventional wisdom). Plus, there is now SugarScience.com and their citation list, summarizing neatly the evidence for excess sugar and its addictive qualities.

I had the privilege of delivering a TEDMED talk on culinary medicine this Fall and did a short Q&A blog for TEDMED. Innovation in culinary medicine is coming from all over: hospital gardensculinary entrepreneurs, Dr. Oz, even academia.  Even more powerfully: stocking your own kitchen medicine cabinet.

I’ve been on a mission to make culinary medicine a part of doctors’ toolkits and part of your own kitchen medicine cabinet. Because doctors need to know how to prescribe food. And you need to know what and how to eat to beat disease. Because prescription drugs are sick care, and we need that, but food is health care, and some foods work within minutes in your body. Michael Pollan got it it right: eat food, mostly plants, not too much.

Walking the talk is underestimated in medicine, and doctors who take better care of themselves give better and more advice to patients if they eat well and learn a little about cooking. Doctors who set the example of healthy eating and cooking walk the talk, the same as physicians did to drop smoking, which has gone from 45% in 1960 to less than 9% among physicians, and about twice that in the U.S. overall.

We can do that with obesity and diabetes rates too, and the good news there is that the public is way ahead of physicians in seeing food as medicine!

*Btw, terrific videos exist: notably (though entirely vegan-ly) by Michael Greger, whose brilliant and didactic NutritionFacts.org produces a regular video about a nutrition issue several times per week or more, using retired physicians as a brain trust and research force. We’re also posting some of your questions on YouTube with a short ChefMD Culinary Medicine FAQ series.