At a young age, I found myself become the primary cook in the family. Eventually, I learned to embrace my role and harness what I thought was a stigmatized past. I never knew these two worlds could intersect, but now, as I am privileged to be in a position where one can come for help, and the conversation would always start the same. “So Doc, what can I eat?”
As a practicing nephrologist, I have seen the late stages of kidney failure and dialysis, heart disease and stroke, largely, due to uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes. My patients are among the sickest of the sick. Kidney doctors are known to be the experts in dispensing medications to keep the body in perfect harmony, knowing all the interactions and adjusting medication doses when the body’s peacekeeper fails. In my private practice, however, I avoid focusing narrowly on the management and treatment of disease alone. Instead, I emphasize on the preventative aspect of medicine and I work collaboratively with my patients as they struggle with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
Culinary Medicine shifts the health care model to preventing disease. I advise all my patients on dietary, exercise and behavioral habits, but unfortunately, I’ve found that an occasional office visit alone is not realistic to affect meaningful change in everyday lives. There is tremendous need for improvement in healthcare and perhaps a grassroots approach outside the confines of a hospital would be a good place to start.
Talking about whole grains, increasing fruits and vegetables in one’s diet and the call for action to eat real food is just starting to become integrated into a handful of medical schools in the country. However, the idea of food and medicine is not a novel one.
“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.
– Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
This quote was from the turn of the century. We’re about 100 years behind. Luckily, we have her
” Know what sparks the light in you. Then use that light to illuminate the world”
– Oprah Winfrey. Starbucks, 2014.
It was printed on a cup holder for a chai latte I treated myself to one day. I’ve been ready to have this conversation for about a decade.