“Prescription” veggies: Is mainstream healthcare about to adopt the “food is medicine” tenet?

“Prescription” veggies: Is mainstream healthcare about to adopt the “food is medicine” tenet?
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(NaturalHealth365) Modern medicine has brought about plenty of benefits – just not without its fair share of drawbacks.  For example, the regrettable trend – over the past century – which has moved many conventionally-trained physicians away from the credo of Hippocrates: “Let thy food be thy medicine.”  Yet, we know, that good food choices – like eating more (organic) veggies can have a major (positive) effect on our health.

Of course, the healthcare system is notorious for pushing drugs that (maybe) “fix” problems rather than helping consumers prevent problems in the first place.  Pardon the cynicism, but let’s face it: big pharma makes its money off sick people.

However, with guarded optimism, we’re happy to share new research which paints a bright picture about what could happen if Medicare and Medicaid helped people pay for healthier foods.

Do we dare to dream?  New study investigates what happens if Medicare and Medicaid jump on board with “prescription” veggies – and the results will astound you

A team of Boston, MA researchers at Tufts University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently conduced a “microsimulation study.” They wanted to demonstrate what the effects would be if Medicaid and Medicare paid for some of the costs of “healthful” foods.

By the way, it’s a smart idea to tackle Medicare and Medicaid first. As one of the paper’s co-authors put it, “”Medicare and Medicaid are the two largest healthcare programs in the U.S., together covering one in three Americans and accounting for 1 in every 4 dollars in the entire federal budget” (emphasis ours).

The authors specifically analyzed two hypothetical scenarios:

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  • In one scenario, Medicare and Medicaid would cover/reimburse 30% of fruit and vegetable purchases.
  • In the other scenario, Medicare and Medicaid would pay for 30% of purchases of fruits and veggies as well as whole grains, nuts, seafood, and plant oils.

Using reams of available information (including National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and published meta-analyses) to extrapolate their data, the authors determined that both scenarios would “generate substantial health gains and be highly cost-effective.”

Amazingly, the second scenario would result in the prevention of nearly 3.3 million cases of heart disease and 120,000 cases of diabetes. These potential effects are as good as if not BETTER than reimbursement of, say, anti-hypertensive and cholesterol-lowering drugs (both of which come with hefty price tags and nasty side effects).

And since both scenarios would reduce healthcare utilization, the government would stand to save an estimated annual $40 billion and $100 billion, respectively.

Talk about a good ROI!

The researchers published their results in the March 2019 edition of the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine.

“Eat five servings of vegetables and call me in the morning”: major takeaways for reinvigorating your health (and reducing your dependency on the healthcare system)

The good news doesn’t stop at this one microsimulation study. The recent 2018 Farm Bill included a brand-new $25 million Produce Prescription Program, which will help fund related pilot projects over the next five years.

In the meantime, what can we as consumers glean from these findings?

  • It is more cost-effective to PREVENT disease and dysfunction rather than TREAT it – something recognized by organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (hey, it’s in their name after all).
  • Let your food be your medicine – seriously! Base your diet around more veggies.
  • Support and enhance your healthy diet with a healthy lifestyle – quit smoking or don’t start, get regular physical exercise, don’t sit too much, explore holistic health practices such as acupuncture and natural supplements, and achieve and maintain a lean body weight.

The more you can maximize your health and avoid illness, the less money you’ll have to spend on healthcare and the longer you’ll live a quality life.  We like those odds!

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