As the world struggles to deal with spiraling health issues, strained medical systems, and depleted environments, the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” has never been more relevant. According to experts, bridging the gap between food production and healthcare is the answer to holistically healing our planet.
In many ways farming and modern healthcare are worlds apart, but they shouldn't be. After all, the basic goal of farming is provide the nutrients our bodies require. And the purpose of the healthcare industry is also to help us stay well. Maintaining human health is clearly at the heart of both industries, but over the years, many have lost sight of the common ground. Farming is firmly focused on efficiency and yields, while healthcare has become consumed with managing expensive diseases.
Now, a team of medical professionals and agricultural experts are making a case for change, suggesting a shift towards integrated farming and healthcare so that both industries work together with a prevention-based approach to human and environmental health.
This concept is supported by a compelling new white paper that compares historical data with health, nutrition and agriculture research. It highlights exactly how the increased industrialization of our food system has led to environmental degradation, poor nutrition and a proliferation of lifestyle-related diseases. It also addresses the issues with our current healthcare system, which prioritizes pharmaceutical intervention over lifestyle changes like diet and nutrition.
Increased industrialization of our food system has led to environmental degradation, poor nutrition and a proliferation of lifestyle-related diseases.
All over the globe, healthcare is overburdened attempting to treat chronic diseases with pharmaceutical intervention. At the same time, conventional farming processes use toxins detrimental to human health and prioritize crops that are low in nutritional value.
The facts speak for themselves:
· While many of us are living longer than our parents, we are not living healthier – or happier – lives.
· Approximately 92 million Americans are living with coronary artery disease.
· Today, six out of 10 American adults have a chronic disease, and four in 10 have more than one chronic disease.
· Globally, more than 71 percent of deaths annually are related to non-communicable, lifestyle-related diseases that include cancer, type 2 diabetes, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease.
· Based on current global trends, six of the top seven causes of death in 2040 (including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and diabetes) will be directly related to our lifestyle choices and diet.
· The Standard American Diet derives more than half of total calories from highly-processed foods. Only 11 percent of calories come from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts.
· Industrial farming has resulted in crops continually reducing nutrient density. It also affects human health via exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and through environmental pollutants.
We face an epidemic of diet and lifestyle-related disease that is eroding personal health, straining healthcare systems and depleting our natural environments. Experts say a healthier future relies on dramatically altering the trajectory of chronic disease and Regenerative Healthcare could be the answer.
Regenerative Healthcare involves increasing the availability of nutrient-dense foods by shifting to a regenerative organic farming system that eliminates toxic inputs and focuses on foods optimal for our health. This type of farming will initiate regeneration of the soil – critical, given we only have 60 years of topsoil left due to soil degradation. Alongside the shift in farming, there must also be healthcare changes, where we move to an integrative medical system founded on lifestyle medicine and supported by regenerative, whole, nutrient-dense foods.
What is Regenerative Healthcare? A system in which farming and healthcare work together to inform a prevention-based approach to human and environmental health. Rather than relying on toxic chemicals to solve agricultural issues and pharmaceutical intervention to manage disease, Regenerative Healthcare aims to prevent disease through an organic, whole-foods, plant-forward diet that begins on farms working in harmony with nature.
Right now, experts are driving further research, education and collaboration between medical professionals and farmers to create meaningful change in our food and healthcare systems. There are visions of a Regenerative Health Institute, where farmers, soil scientists, medical professionals and consumers will come together for a common goal: regaining our health and vitality through food.
What can we do to help?
Making more thoughtful food choices is number one. The way our food is grown and raised impacts not only our own cellular health and immune systems, but also whole communities and entire ecosystems. With this in mind, we need to start considering not only what we eat, but also how it was produced. The easiest way to do this is to start purchasing more products from local farms. You can also start talking to healthcare providers about the benefits of an organic, whole-foods diet as a meaningful prevention of and intervention for lifestyle-related conditions.
This information comes from the ‘The Power of the Plate – The Case for Regenerative Organic Agriculture in Improving Human Health’ a white paper authored by experts at Rodale Institute and The Plantrician Project.