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Food as medicine: could prescribing fruit and vegetables become part of healthcare?
Decades of healthy eating advice have failed to stem the tide of lifestyle-related disease. Could prescribing healthy food help?
Sun 18 Sep 2022 18.30 BST
Emma’s type 2 diabetes diagnosis turned her life upside down. “It is like having a baby that never grows up,” she says. “It is nagging at you as soon as you wake up.” Every single morsel of food has to be carefully chosen in case it sends her blood sugar levels spiking, which could cause her to pass out or worse.
The ideal diet for someone with Emma’s condition would include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, lean meat and fish, and reduced-fat dairy. That diet has been shown to slow down or even reverse the progression of type 2 diabetes and help prevent it happening in the first place. But that has been a diet she has struggled to access.
What if such a diet could be prescribed in the same way as medication, as a prescriptive intervention, subsidized by government, readily available and with plenty of support and information, to help prevent or treat disease? The idea of “food as medicine” is gaining traction around the world as scientists and doctors look for ways to use food in a targeted fashion to improve health.
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