Food as Medicine Hits the Mainstream

We've spent 20 years working with healthy food brands and health professionals, so the idea of food as medicine is an ingrained belief in our world. Yet, over those two decades, we've watched specific food fads capture the imagination of the media and the health-conscious consumer instead—non-fat, gluten free, no carb, paleo, and so on. The promise of the silver bullet—the one concept that will help us lose weight, stay healthy, and live a long life—has distracted us from the subtler, more meaningful truth:

"People’s health is the sum of much more than the medications they take and the tests they get—health is affected by how much people sleep and exercise, how much stress they’re shouldering and, yes, what they are eating at every meal."

That quote from a recent TIME magazine article entitled Why Food Could Be the Best Medicine of All gets at the heart of the growing lifestyle medicine movement.

But it also represents an important mile marker on the road to a healthier lifestyle for millions of Americans—the breaking of "food as medicine" into the mainstream.

"Ask any doctor how to avoid or mitigate the effects of the leading killers of Americans and you’ll likely hear that eating healthier plays a big role. But knowing intuitively that food can influence health is one thing, and having the science and the confidence to back it up is another. And it’s only relatively recently that doctors have started to bridge this gap."

We wrote recently about the nutrition education gap in medical schools, but articles such as this one in TIME play an important role in shifting the conversation. Obviously, medical schools, research institutions, health systems and managed care organizations have recognized the importance of food and nutrition for years. But for the average consumer, the concept of food as medicine may be a very new one. Seeing it represented in the mainstream media means it will soon be an idea that consumers proactively bring up with their personal healthcare professionals, sparking millions of valuable, trusted conversations about nutrition. At Pulse, we see those conversations as opportunities for healthy food brands to add real value to consumers and professionals, and help make America healthier while simultaneously driving the bottom line.