New Spectrum program to use food as medicine

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Spectrum Health is in the process of creating a new program for patients called Culinary Medicine.

The program uses food as medicine to help people diagnosed with chronic illness. Specifically, diet related diseases, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, obesity and cancer. It will help patients better understand how food can be used as medicine.

“These diet related illnesses, it’s something we see every day,” said Spectrum Medical Doctor and Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist Kristi Artz.

The program is in the beginning stages. Right now, medical residents are learning how to eat and cook nutritious foods. The goal is for the residents and doctors to be able to pass on the knowledge from the program and recipes to their patients.

24 Hour News 8 spoke with Spectrum doctors who say food can be used as medicine by making healthier options. For example, simplifying or modifying recipes. Also by making vegetables, herbs and spices the main focus of the meal instead of salt, sugar and fats.

“Some of these foods can actually help with disease states and reduce inflammation in the body, reduce cholesterol and decrease obesity,” said pediatric resident Jenna Slaughter. “I think we all are pretty much aware that can contribute or worsen conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”

The focus of the program is to make the switch from calorie dense foods to nutrient dense foods.

“Finding different ways we can increase protein in spaghetti as well decrease some of the fat that comes with meat,” said Slaughter. “We added more lentils into some of the spaghetti recipes as well as vegetables. We also used whole wheat pasta instead of traditional white pasta.”

Spectrum said it’s finding a way to incorporate the food as medicine approach into healthcare. It is expected to be implemented on patients in the near future.

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