Raising the Food IQ of Docs
This week, 4th year medical students at New York Medical College learned about inexpensive and highly effective edible tools for healing. Kale, quinoa, ginger, turmeric, garlic and more. They also discovered the power of mindful eating along with the health benefits of good quality dark chocolate. They were horrified to consider the toxic food environment that the majority of their patients dwell in on a daily basis.
Thanks to the pioneering spirit of Dr. Ronald Whitmont, a physician and homeopath, these students are learning about complementary and alternative medicine in a 4 week rotation. I got them for 2 days to explore food as a healing tool along with some aspects of mind body nutrition. Students spent one session learning about food through the lens of both western herbology and Chinese medicine. They learned how dark green leafy vegetables support bone health, prevent macular degeneration and supply essential micronutrients often missing in the Standard American Diet. Most importantly, they learned how easy, inexpensive and delicious it can be to prepare a health supportive meal with their own very skilled hands. Medical students and physicians must know their anatomy by heart: every bone, muscle, nerve and artery. It seems to me that they need to understand every ingredient in the American diet too. What ingredients can build health and alleviate chronic health issues? What ingredients can undermine optimal immunity? Which ingredients support digestion and facilitate healing?
Food is a major player in health and disease, considering the fact that 80% of chronic disease is related to diet. It seems to me that medical schools should be devoting at least a semester to the impact of food on health. While nutrition education is also sorely lacking in medical schools, the systems approach offered by studying food gives health professionals deep and valuable insight into the health and well being of their patients. We don’t eat nutrients, we eat food. Doctors need to be up on the latest food related trends and need to be able to walk their talk at the end of their own forks.
I look forward to doing more of this work in the months ahead.