BWH doctors agree, food is medicine

Posted On: February 20th, 2020

Amelia Knowlton

BWH doctors agree, food is medicine

Published Monday, January 27th (American Heart Association News):

Three Brigham cardiologists were in the news for their integrative approach to improving patient’s nutrition. Stephanie A. Moore, M.D., Aruna Das Pradhan, M.D., and Pei-Chun McGregor, M.D. are creating a federal program which would allow doctors to write patients prescriptions for fresh vegetables and nutritious foods. The new program “Varanda” stands for Veterans Administration Repurposing Agriculture for Nutrition and Diet Awareness.

Dr. McGregor explained to the American Heart Association News, “We as cardiologists see a lot of diseases where we give medication instead of getting to the root of the problem, when a lot of the issues are actually lifestyle and nutrition-related.” This program would take a groundbreaking step into making integrative medicine more widely available to populations who may not have access to specialized nutritional consultations.

Access to whole, healthy foods is an important part of the prevention of cardiovascular disease. “Unfortunately,’ according to Dr. Moore, ‘nutrition is not well-taught or well-received in medical schools.” This disconnect can make it hard for patients to integrate healthy lifestyle choices when they don’t have the tools to make informed decisions. To amend this, the doctors envision that a Varanda prescription would not only include free healthy foods, but a host of educational activities that support a healthy lifestyle – such as cooking classes.

Lindsay Keach Bronstein, MS, RD, LDN, HC is an integrative dietitian and health coach at the Osher Clinical Center. She stated, “we very much support the idea that food is medicine, and regularly coach patients through the process of implementing and integrating healthy therapeutic food plans for a range of conditions.” Beyond providing one-on-one consultations, the Osher Center offers cooking demos as a key part of integrative group programs. “Having this direct sensory experience with healthy foods — seeing how easy they can be to prepare and realizing that you love the flavors — often goes much further than handouts or advice in isolation.” Lindsay explained.

Support for programs like Veranda show that there is a community need for integrative healthcare resources. The program is planned to begin this year in Boston suburbs Brockton and Bedford with funding coming from grants, private donations, and existing VA reimbursement mechanisms.

To learn more about integrative health coaching at the Osher Clinical Center, please download this flyer or contact The Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine to make an appointment at (617) 732-9700.