With the FARMACY Program ending yesterday, it seems appropriate that today is National Food is Medicine Day - a day meant to raise awareness about the threat of malnutrition and the obstacles people in the U.S. face while trying to acquire good, healthy food.
What some people may not realize is, that malnutrition includes everything from starvation to being overweight. Two primary causes of diseases today are poor diets and the health risks that come with them. Quite often, diets fall short of having enough vitamins, minerals, and fiber, or they have too many calories, saturated fats, salt, and sugar.
In 2010, 10% of the world’s disease burden was caused by unhealthy eating and lack of exercise (measured as the number of years lost due to ill health, disability, or early death). By 2015, six of the top 11 global risk factors, such as being undernourished, having a high body mass index (B.M.I.), and having high cholesterol, were related to diet.
The main problem - especially for families or individuals with low-incomes - is having access to and affording nutritious foods. Quality is often disregarded because it financially makes more sense to buy the cheaper option. Nothing good comes from a poor diet, yet too many people don’t really have a choice. It’s a harsh reality that organic, non-processed food is usually more expensive and doesn’t last as long.
So how can food be used as medicine?
Studies have shown that a diet full of nutrients in a whole meal may prevent many diseases and even help treat some conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. Food promotes health, depending on what you eat of course. Food can affect mental health too. It has been proven that sticking to a healthy diet means fewer mood fluctuations, a sunnier deposition, and improved focus.
Why is National Food is Medicine Day so important?
It creates awareness about the health benefits of a proper diet and emphasizes the risks of excessive junk food intake. Today also draws attention to the struggle low-income families face while trying to purchase healthy food.
How can you observe National Food is Medicine Day?
Prepare a healthy, homemade meal. Explore new meals high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Educate others on the importance of a proper diet. Another great way to get involved is to donate to local food agencies.