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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > February 2018 > THE REAL FOOD DOCTORS

THE REAL FOOD DOCTORS

We meet the medics who are prescribing a dose of good nutrition for patients alongside their medication

Kitchen medicine cabinet

WITH PRESCRIPTION PILLS for conditions such as high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes considered the norm, a growing number of young medics are embracing the idea that the secret of good health may also lie in the kitchen. While they don’t claim to have the nutritional knowledge of a dietitian, these health professionals believe that nutrition and medicine should go hand in hand.

This move can be seen as a backlash against poly pharmacy – the prescription of multiple daily pills for chronic ailments.

When the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) set new criteria in 2014 for the prescription of statins (daily pills taken to lower raised LDL – bad cholesterol – levels) some GPs rebelled as this meant that 11.8 million more adults would technically be put on medication – 37% of those aged 30 to 80.

A 2017 Cambridge University study showed that half of all over-65s are now taking at least five drugs a day, with some people on as many as 23.

In fact, the number of patients on medication has risen from 12% to 49% in the past 20 years. Many of the health issues we’re medicated for, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and raised cholesterol, may be diet-related or have links to obesity, and yet many patients receive little, or no, information from their doctors about foods and portion sizes.

GPs need far more education on prescribing diet and lifestyle changes

Time to educate the doctors?

HFG nutrition editor Amanda Ursell explains that, although NHS dietitians are on hand to help, few are based in GP practices, and it can take time to be referred. ‘Doctors only receive a few hours of nutrition training,’ says Amanda. ‘Indeed, many wouldn’t have time to talk through diet plans with their patients anyway. There’s clearly a need for patients to have access to more diet expertise. You can’t simply tell a person to lose weight and give them no information about how to do it.’

‘I WAS ONLY ABLE TO HELP A FIFTH OF MY PATIENTS’

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About Healthy Food Guide

Find out what really works for weight loss with our portion guide special - and say goodbye to that belly fat. Meet the medical experts now focusing on nutrition, and try our 32 heart-friendly recipes. We show you how to spot or prevent a mini stroke (it could save a life), and take your running to a new level with our complete guide to training for a race. We've also got vegan comfort food covered, plus pancakes and Valentine's treats, and help you look as good on the outside as you feel on the inside, with professional tips for beauty on a budget.