‘Food as Medicine’ report shares key findings on impact of food and diet on health and disease


A new report entitled, “Food as Medicine: How Food and Diet Impact the Treatment of Disease and Disease Management” aims to bridge the gap between traditional medicine and the use of food as medicine in the prevention and treatment of disease.

Published by the Center for Food as Medicine and the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, the 335-page report is divided into five parts including: background information on the history of using food to treat disease; modern challenges to widespread use and acceptance of food as medicine practices; current evidence about contemporary food as medicine practices (such as medically tailored meals, produce prescriptions, and functional foods); literature review of food as treatment for specific disease states; and recommendations to stakeholders (including policymakers, healthcare professionals, and academics) to contribute to a healthier, more equitable healthcare system.

Some key findings include:

  • Many medical schools across the country do not require that students take basic nutrition courses, leading to a lack of confidence and knowledge among healthcare providers when speaking to patients about using food as a treatment to manage disease.
  • The American Dietary Guidelines have long been influenced by large food corporations and interest groups, and they do not always reflect the state of the science regarding the relationship between diet and health. These guidelines are mportant, because they influence the nutritional standards of meals and foods provided across the country.
  • Food has always been a part of medical practice, going back millennia; however, as medical procedures and treatments became more sophisticated, modern societies began to disregard the role of food in the treatment of disease. Using food to treat disease was viewed as an uncivilized approach. This led to a gap between modern medicine and the use of food to treat disease, and a lack of acceptance of food-based interventions in modern treatment plans.

In addition, researchers also shared 10 recommendations to advance food and medicine practices such as increasing community access to fruits and vegetables; improving public awareness regarding how food can be used in the prevention and treatment of disease; and more healthcare provider education about nutrition and the role of the diet as it relates to disease management.

Download the free Food as Medicine report here.