The Power of Food as Medicine

Dr. Robert Graham The food as medicine movement is quickly picking up steam as physicians and healthcare institutions begin to recognize the many tangible benefits of making food an integral part of treatment. Research on the power of food to prevent and fight disease is creating a paradigm shift in the way that treatment is provided. Instead of simply prescribing a “pill for an ill,” an ever-growing number of physicians choose to integrate dietary changes in their healthcare recommendations.

A leading proponent of this approach to care is Dr. Robert Graham, a Harvard-trained physician who is board-certified in both Internal and Integrative Medicine. In his view, while there is no one ideal diet for all, cutting down on or eliminating processed foods can be highly beneficial regardless of a person’s age or health status. The term “processed food” can be used to describe any item of food that has been altered from its original state. Though not all processed foods are unhealthy, per se, many contain artificially elevated amounts of salt, sugar, and fat – substances that are widely believed to be responsible for America’s high rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Eating right, along with regular exercise and getting sufficient sleep, can fundamentally improve an individual’s health and their quality of life. The key, Dr. Graham believes, is instilling in doctors the notion that patients should actively pursue good health through conscious dietary choices in close consultation with their healthcare providers. Medical education should emphasize the critical role that food selection plays in the health of all individuals. Another important development should take place at the policy development level. Instead of the government giving heavy subsidies to industrial farming and food production operations that are responsible for producing the heavily processed foods so many in America eat, more resources should be allocated to smaller, local farms that produce healthier food and do less damage to the environment.

Addressing the root cause(s) of a disease and not just the disease itself is the defining feature of Integrative Medicine. IM – as it is often referred to – combines the best of conventional Western medicine with alternative or complementary treatments that are supported by clinical evidence. The food as medicine school of thought has been eagerly adopted by IM practitioners such as Dr. Graham who champion whole-person wellness through a combination of treatment, health promotion, and illness prevention.

The American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM) is a member board of the American Board of Physician Specialists (ABPS) – the only multispecialty certifying body to offer IM board certification in the United States. Becoming an ABOIM Diplomate offers an IM practitioner the opportunity to demonstrate his or her mastery of the specialty’s core competencies. To request additional information about the ABOIM, contact the ABPS today. The ABPS is the official certifying body of the American Association of Physician Specialists®, Inc.

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On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine