Colette's Blog

Food is Medicine

Colette-Heimowitz

Written by Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc. on February 29, 2024.

Scientifically reviewed by

Jonathan Clinthorne, PhD Human Nutrition

February 29, 2024

Why a low carb diet could be your prescription for good health.

Many of our country’s top health problems, like heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes are linked to what we eat. These diet-related health issues also come at a monetary cost to our economy in the billions. While research shows how important good nutrition is for our health, it’s not easy for everyone to eat healthily. Challenges like not having enough healthy food available, high prices, confusing food policies, unhealthy eating habits that are hard to break, and not knowing enough about nutrition make it hard for to change eating habits.

Because of this, there’s a big push to solve these problems. Experts are looking at ways to ensure everyone can get and afford the nutritious food we need. The good news is that many people want to eat better to improve their health, and there’s a lot of support for dietary changes that can make a difference. If we can find ways to get past these hurdles, more people will be able to enjoy the benefits of good nutrition.

What is Food is Medicine?

This is where Food is Medicine (FIM) comes in. Championed in 2022 by The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, the American Heart Association and The Rockefeller Foundation, the goal is to ensure that what we eat is an integral part of our healthcare, especially for people dealing with or at risk for long-term health issues. A low carb diet aligns with FIM for several reasons:

  1. Fights long-term health issues: Eating fewer carbs can help get a handle on things like type-2 diabetes and excess weight and improve blood sugar and insulin control, which is essential for keeping diabetes and heart problems at bay.
  2. Provides quality nutrition: FIM emphasizes the importance of high-quality, nutritious food in maintaining health and preventing disease. A well-constructed low carb diet focuses on nutrient-rich foods, such as vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats, which are right in line with what FIM suggests for making our diets healthier overall.
  3. Cools down inflammation: Chronic inflammation is a troublemaker linked to many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Low carb diets, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and some nuts) and antioxidants (think colorful veggies, berries and even dark chocolate), can help reduce inflammation.
  4. Accessible and affordable for everyone: Part of FIM’s approach is to make healthy food accessible and affordable for all, particularly for people in underserved communities. A low carb diet can fit any budget and take advantage of what’s locally available.
  5. Backed by science: The FIM isn’t about fads; it’s about diets that science has shown to be good for us. There’s a lot of research that shows that low-carb diets can make a difference in our health, which supports FIM’s mission of integrating evidence-based nutrition practices into healthcare. In other words, it’s possible your next prescription from the doctor could be “Eat more colorful vegetables.”

Even cutting back to 130 grams of carbs daily is associated with the positive benefits of a low carb diet. You may experience additional health and weight loss benefits if you decrease your carb intake below 130 grams daily, following Atkins 100, where you consume 100 grams of Net Carbs daily.

Sample Food is Medicine Low Carb Meal Plan

This Mediterranean-style one-day meal plan weighs in at 100 grams of Net Carbs a day and features heart-healthy olive oil, nutrient-rich vegetables and some whole grains.

Breakfast

1 serving Garden Frittata

½ cup baked sweet potato

26 grams of Net Carbs

Snack

1/3 cup sliced apple

2 tablespoons roasted cashews

9 grams of Net Carbs

Lunch

1 serving Low Carb Thai Turkey “Rice” Bowl

½ cup cooked brown rice

1 tablespoon olive oil mixed with brown rice

30 grams of Net Carbs

Snack

8 medium baby carrots

¼ cup hummus

½ tablespoon olive oil drizzled over hummus

9 grams of Net Carbs

Dinner

1 serving Italian Chicken Cacciatore

½ cup cooked whole-wheat spaghetti

½ tablespoon olive oil mixed with spaghetti

27 grams of Net Carbs

TOTAL: 101 grams of Net Carbs

Colette-Heimowitz

Author

Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc.

Vice President of Nutrition & Education

Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc. is a former Director of Nutrition at The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine in New York City. With 20+ years of experience as a nutrition expert, the NY Times best-selling author is the current Vice President of Nutrition & Education at Simply Good Foods Company.

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