Posts tagged ‘chronic disease’

January 23, 2011

what does your doctor know about nutrition?

An article published in the New York Times, by Dr. Pauline Chen, asks this very critical question, and the answer may or may not surprise you.  In the 1980’s the National Academy of Sciences published a report exploring the didactic hours of nutritional education provided in U.S. medical schools and determined it was remarkably insufficient.  They also determined that the minimum requirement for study dedicated to clinical nutrition for America’s upcoming doctors should be 25 hours.  Today. thirty years later, only 25% of our nation’s medical schools meet this minimum requirement.

In her article, Dr. Chen recalls her early years as a resident:

“Years later, as a newly minted doctor on the wards seeing real patients, I found myself in the same position. I was still getting a lot of questions about food and diet. And I was still hesitating when answering. I wasn’t sure I knew that much more after medical school than I did before.

One day I mentioned this uncomfortable situation to another young doctor. “Just consult the dietitians if you have a problem,” she said after listening to my confession. “They’ll take care of it.” She paused for a moment, looked suspiciously around the nursing station, then leaned over and whispered, “I know we’re supposed to know about nutrition and diet, but none of us really does.”

She was right. And nearly 20 years later, she may still be.”

Is nutritional education so important for today’s doctors?  The National Cancer Institute has this to say about the link between diet and chronic disease:

Serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year. These diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, and diabetes. Eating a diet that contains 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy, active lifestyle lowers the risk for all of these diseases.

Most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to keep them healthy. Despite the fact that they are important for maintaining overall good health and preventing diseases, eating fruits and vegetables is not even on many people’s radar screens.”

The old adage “an apple a day” is more than folk-wisdom, we now have current research supporting the critical importance of dietary education for patients facing risk factors for disease.  Proper nutritional status is not about just “feeling good,” it is about preventing serious, life-threatening, diseases – cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.  What you eat today can be a game-changer for your health in the future.  So what is your doctor telling you — and how much does your doctor know?

Perhaps it is time to seek out a primary care physician who has been thoroughly immersed in clinical nutritional training.  Consider this evaluation of conventional medical schools and naturopathic medical schools in the U.S.: comparative curricula.

Naturopathic doctors who have graduated from an accredited medical school have received a minimum of 132 hours of nutritional education compared with traditional medical doctors who have received 25 hours or less.  Not only can your naturopathic physician provide you with detailed guidelines for healthy eating that leads to a longer and more vital life, she can also assess your individual nutritional needs that are unique to you – your genes, your lifestyle and physical status.  In the end, we now know that early prevention through adherence to proper dietary guidelines will lead to less hospital visits, less prescribed medicines and significantly less risk for serious chronic health conditions in your future.

Your health can be significantly altered simply by the foods you choose.  Talk to your naturopathic physician about your health goals and how they can be achieved through dietary changes, this is a simple undertaking that can profoundly alter your future health!

be well,
Dr. Rachelle

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