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Why we’re rejecting food as medicine

Humans have been using food to treat ailments much longer than we’ve had the advances of modern medicine. So why have we rejected its worth in our treatment processes? And what can be done to change that? The Center for Food as Medicine and the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center just released a 335-page report that answers those questions.

Illustration of food packed in a capsule phototake/ThinkStock

First, the why: Meals in health care settings are not medically designed to help with the specific needs of the patient. Produce-prescription and nutrition-incentive programs don’t have the government funds to fully support them. And a lot of medical schools don’t even require students to take a basic nutrition course. So there’s a lack of knowledge and a disconnect between health care providers and food as a resource.

Then there’s a lack of trust in the food industry and their validity. Social media uses food as a means of promoting “pseudoscientific alternative medicine” or spreading false info, pushing away legitimate providers. The food industry has had its fingers in food science studies and an almost mafia-esque chokehold on American dietary guidelines. No wonder food for medicine is getting the boot!

To change the situation, the report offers 10 key recommendations on how to advance the idea of incorporating food into medicine for treatment and prevention. They include boosting the funding for research, making hospitals more food-as-medicine focused, expanding federal programs, and improving public awareness on the role nutrition can play in medical treatment or prevention.

So maybe instead of rejecting food outright, we should be looking a little deeper at how we can use it to our advantage. Just a thought: Ice cream as an antidepressant.

Being rude is a good thing, apparently

If you’ve ever been called argumentative, stubborn, or unpleasant, then this LOTME is for you. Researchers at the University of Geneva have found that people who are more stubborn and hate to conform have brains that are more protected against Alzheimer’s disease. That type of personality seems to preserve the part of the brain that usually deteriorates as we grow older.

A man with an unhappy look on his face Piqsels

The original hypothesis that personality may have a protective effect against brain degeneration led the investigators to conduct cognitive and personality assessments of 65 elderly participants over a 5-year period. Researchers have been attempting to create vaccines to protect against Alzheimer’s disease, but these new findings offer a nonbiological way to help.

“For a long time, the brain is able to compensate by activating alternative networks; when the first clinical signs appear, however, it is unfortunately often too late. The identification of early biomarkers is therefore essential for … effective disease management,” lead author Panteleimon Giannakopoulos, MD, said in a Study Finds report.

You may be wondering how people with more agreeable and less confrontational personalities can seek help. Well, researchers are working on that, too. It’s a complex situation, but as always, we’re rooting for you, science!

At least now you can take solace in the fact that your elderly next-door neighbor who yells at you for stepping on his lawn is probably more protected against Alzheimer’s disease.


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