Open Arms of Minnesota

Open Arms Featured By Strong Enough Journalism

Open Arms' Work Featured In Piece By Strong Enough Journalism

Open Arms’s was recently featured in a piece written by Karen Diehl of Strong Enough Journalism. Diehl is a critical care nurse who operates Strong Enough Journalism, a platform in which she explores a wide array of topics related to the medical field.  In her feature below, she explores the growing concept of “food as medicine” and how Open Arms plays a role within the field. Go HERE to read more of Diehl’s work. 

What do you think of when you hear the phrase food as medicine? Do you envision the old food pyramid or the newer MyPlate diagram? Do you think calorie restrictions or foods to avoid? Or do you see a syringe filled with pureed carrots?

Food as medicine is evolving to consider individual needs and preferences. For some, it might mean eating a broad range of foods to keep them interested. For others, it might mean a limited selection of food their body tolerates. It means getting the right mix of nutrients for the right individual and their medical needs.

The medical community is finally acknowledging that many chronic diseases are diet related. Therefore, poor quality nutrition equals poor quality health. “One of every 5 deaths across the globe is attributable to suboptimal diet, more than any other risk factor, including tobacco” (Food for Thought 2020).

While the researchers are still conducting the official science, the early studies show much promise in prescription food programs. For example, these studies show that produce prescription programs “increase fruit and vegetable consumption and reduce BMI, glycated hemoglobin” without increased risk to other cardiometabolic risk factors (Advances in Nutrition). Other trials show promise with community education on how to cook culturally inclusive meals with higher quality nutrition on a budget. There is enough promise in these early studies that researchers are calling for much more extensive, controlled trials to establish the scientific basis. 

A more intensive approach would be medically tailored groceries for those who can shop and cook but need education and assistance to buy. Finally, medically tailored pre-made meals would be the highest “food as medicine” level. Designed by medical providers and registered dieticians, these groceries or meals are focused on providing the nutrients that a specific health condition needs to heal or might be lacking (Food for Thought 2020). Funding for these meals is dependent on grants and donations at this time. However, as the research continues, Medicare is considering funding produce prescriptions and medically tailored meals.

Open Arms helps provide these medically tailored meals to those unable to shop or cook for themselves due to complex medical conditions. They use registered dieticians and chefs to create fresh meals suitable for these fragile community members. Utilizing the farm-to-table mentality, Open Arms can bring their fresh produce into their kitchens. Nutritious meals are delivered weekly to their subscribers, allowing them to manage their medical needs.

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