Healthcare Costs Start With What We Eat

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media , July 30, 2014

Using nutrition to improve the prevention, treatment, and palliative care of disease could be the most cost-effective cure for America's rising healthcare costs and health insurers are getting into the act.


Rebecca Katz

Americans have created a self-destructive relationship with food that is fueling chronic disease epidemics and driving up healthcare costs.

"Other cultures do not behave the way we do with our food," Rebecca Katz, a California-based chef and author of three books based on her philosophy of "sustainable nourishment," told me recently. "We want it cheap and we want it fast, and there's a price to be paid for that. We have to get back to the basics."

The Baltimore native is a longtime chef who earned a master's degree in nutrition and health education from Hawthorn University. In 1999, she experienced the powerful connection between health and food first-hand when her father was diagnosed with cancer. Katz had no idea how to cook for someone fighting laryngeal cancer, and neither did anyone else.

"At that time, food and cancer was like inviting ants to a picnic. Nobody wanted to talk about it," she told me. "There was so much more science to look at."

Since then, Katz has taken a careful look at the scientific data linking food to clinical outcomes.

Her second book, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, notes some powerful data points, including the astounding figure that as many as 80 percent of cancer patients are malnourished, "in some cases leaving them too weakened to withstand ongoing treatment."

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