It’s seems that there is a pill for everything. The obesity rate is ticking up. In addition, Type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise. I’m a big believer in diet as medication. Thus, when I heard about doctors “prescribing” fruits and veggies as part of a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program (or FVRx for short), I was happy. According to wholesomewave.org , one of the objectives of FVRx is “to provide assistance to overweight and obese children who are at risk of developing diet-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.” As a result of the 2012 program, “37.8 % of child participants decreased their Body Mass Index.” Families were also shown to have improved their diets. This is great news. However, for me, the real question is: can fruits and veggies really keep the doctor away?
Diet Can Decrease Your Risks
While genetics play a factor in your health, a healthy diet can help ward off serious diseases. As a woman with a history of heart disease and high blood pressure in her family, I take my health seriously. Over the past few years, I have started eating more whole foods including plenty of fresh produce. I have low blood pressure and zero health problems (that I know about at least). I could just be lucky. Yet, I don’t think so. According to Dr. Donald Hensrud of the Mayo Clinic , “increasing fruit and vegetable intake is associated with decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity and even overall mortality.” Sounds pretty convincing, right?
Diet As Medication
My husband has never been close to obese. He exercises and looks healthy. However, a few years ago, after a physical and blood panel, he learned he had high triglycerides. According to WebMD, “triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood.” Failing to control your triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease and some people need medication. However, making lifestyle and diet changes can help lower your triglyceride levels. This is what my husband did. He lowered his sugar and fat intake. Furthermore, he started juicing and eating plenty of fruits and veggies. After less than a year, he went from having a high level to a low or “normal” level of triglycerides. In fact, his level went down dramatically, by several hundred points. Cholesterol isn’t the only thing that can be changed with diet. In fact, 17 percent of adults with Type 2 diabetes can “control their disease with diet and exercise alone.”
A Diet High in Fruits and Veggies Helps
Many times, we go to the doctor after we are sick. However, loading up on fruits and veggies is one way to keep the doctor away. According to hsph.harvard.edu , a person on a 2,000 a day diet would need about “nine servings” of fruits and veggies. Doing so can help prevent “heart disease and stroke.” In addition, it can “control blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, avoid a painful intestinal ailment called diverticulitis, and guard against cataract and macular degeneration.” For me, this information gives me plenty of motivation to hang out in the produce section or at my local farmers market.
It’s sad to hear about children who will likely die prematurely due to obesity. On the other hand, it’s good to see hospitals helping their patients take preventative measures to avoid disease. “An apple a day to keep the doctor away” definitely has some truth. However, I think throwing a little kale and strawberries into the mix will probably keep the doctor away longer.
More from Melissa:
Eating Clean: Feeling Good from the Inside Out
Is Dairy Bad for You?
Honey and Health: It’s a Sweet Combination