Food acts as medicine -- to maintain, prevent, and treat disease.
While seeking better and more affordable health care coverage for Americans, one of the largest contributors to the overwhelming costs (78 percent) of healthcare expenditures are for the treatment of chronic disease.
Many researchers now believe that these problems are partly related to diet. While they used to believe that diseases-such as type II diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers - were caused by a single gene mutation, they are now generally attributing these conditions to a network of biological dysfunction. And the food we eat is an important factor in that dysfunction, in part because our diets lack the necessary balance of nutrients (Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 2004).
Lack of access to fresh and unprocessed foods is one issue, as is the addictive qualities of high sugar and salt content, but even in areas where given the choice, cultural and societal habits often remain the same - going for high sugar content, processed food, high salt content, overeating and foods with no nutritional value.
Given a pill from a medical professional is often easier, but only masks as bandaid and can lead to other health issues, if change in lifestyle is not appropriately addressed.
Recently, food banks are even catching on by providing foods with less salt, sugar, and overly processed foods - and it's a great start.
The bottom line is that our own health, as well as health care costs, would improve greatly by taking steps to proper nutrition and exercise. Until we create a society that recognizes that, we will continue to pay the high price for insurance and the negative effects to our body.
Learn more about how food has a direct impact on your health at https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-food-impact-health