Medical students have noticed that nutrition and diet receive scant attention in their course of studies. Now, they want change—in the form of dietary knowledge they can use to treat common health problems.
Diet, Medicine, and Social Issues Are Coming Together in Britain
More and more people today are coping with weight concerns, depression, and diabetes—what doctors describe as non-communicable diseases.
As this trend continues, nutrition might just become a medical education standard.
In the thick of change is Bristol University in England, where medical students Iain Broadley and Ally Jaffee recently opened Nutritank. It's a think tank for nutrition research and on-campus education. Now, Bristol is poised to offer Britain's first course in culinary medicine. And this year the British Medical Journal will establish a journal on diet: the science and the social issues.
Signs of Change in North America
The University of New Mexico's medical school has teamed up with its College of Education to offer an elective that invites medical students into the kitchen. The class welcomes fourth-year med students and nutrition grad students.
Taught by Associate Professor Deborah Cohen, the new course in culinary medicine guides students in food preparation. It offers the clinical science that connects nutrition with treatment for diseases. The syllabus includes an overview, a section on renal physiology and sodium, and lessons on fats and modifying body weight. Online sections cover metabolism, as well as physiology and biochemistry.
A dietetic intern serves as a nutrition care mentor for each medical student. Mentored students can complete a clinical component, in which they carry out nutrition assessments, then guide the patients in learning.
Connecting Food to Medicine
Prof. Cohen founded the course after National Public Radio featured the progress at Tulane University's Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine.
Of course, connecting food and medicine means obtaining access to a spacious kitchen. That connection may become the new model.
For proof that culinary medicine is burgeoning, consider the Health Meets Food expo, happening in New Orleans this June. The event will showcase culinary medicine as it's emerging in medical schools throughout North America. Participants will also share their research, adding to the scientific support for this evolving area.
Expect plenty of kitchen labs in the coming years!
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