Written By: Alanna McCoy

Food is medicine” is a term that is becoming more and more popular. It was a heavy topic at the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, and is becoming a buzzword in the media. But what is it?

Food is Medicine while being a relatively new priority for the White House is actually a centuries-old philosophy. In 440 BC Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food”. Food is medicine sits at the crossroads between nutrition and health care and refers to prioritizing an individual’s food choices and nutrition habits to prevent, reduce symptoms, or reverse disease. The idea imposes the suggestion that a diet based on eating nutrient-rich, balanced meals can add to your lifespan, increase good health, reduce risk, and even prevent disease.

Overall Food is Medicine, is important because not only is it an affordable approach to lowering the cost of healthcare and improving quality of life, but it reinforces strong nutritional habits like shopping the perimeter of the grocery store first and reading the nutrition labels. These skills ultimately make better consumers and healthier communities. 

This is an emerging topic in the western world, but other cultures across the globe have long embraced the role of nutrition in health. While it doesn’t serve as a cure-all, the “Food is Medicine” approach in conjunction with appropriate medical treatment is an open path towards changing how we treat patients, stock our pantries, and even select our cafeteria menus.

At Common Threads, Food is Medicine is a part of the foundation on which we are building our educational programming. Nutrition education is a key partner in making a concept like food is medicine successful. When a person has the necessary skills and knowledge to properly prepare affordable meals and make healthy food selections, a philosophy like Food is Medicine can be a viable option in their health plan.