California has become the first state to implement a pilot program that uses food as medicine. The meal service, designed by doctors, treats high-risk, low-income patients that are chronically ill.
A Special Diet
A 2013 study showed that those who received this diet had several benefits; it reduced their medical expenses by up to 55%, they stayed in the hospital for less time and they were discharged faster than those who did not utilize the diet.
Diet is a central factor in the management of diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma or cancer. But for many patients it is difficult to take care of it, since with limited incomes, and high medical costs, they only access the foods that generally harm them: processed foods, high salt content, and refined carbohydrates.
The new California-based program has granted $ 6 million to six non-profit organizations that already performed the meal service program. The program will last three years and will be the basis of a study at The University of California, San Francisco and Stanford.
In addition to the breakfast and two additional meals delivered, the service will include a home visit by a nutritionist.
The service is also being partially covered by a thousand state health insurance beneficiaries, and the research will include patients living in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco.
Medicinal Value Of Food
There’s a history that defends the medicinal value of food, and organizations like Project Open Hand in San Francisco, and God’s Love We Deliver, in New York City began this movement more than a decade ago to help with the HIV outbreak. Many other groups sprouted to help, and expanded their mission to include nutrition to help people with chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Studies say that the average reduction in medical costs for an individual with good nutrition can range from 16 to 55 percent. However, in many cases, food sacrifices are made to pay the rent, or people neglect their medications because they can not afford to pay for everything. Experts say this is when people unwittingly end up in the emergency room.
The program was officially launched in California last Friday.