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Health Expert Prescribes Fresh Food as "First" Medicine

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Thursday, July 20, 2017   

GLENWOOD Springs, Colo. -- As the nation's lawmakers continue to grapple with rising health costs and coverage options, Colorado's Mountain Family Health Centers are promoting a common sense preventive approach to good health: eating better food more frequently.

Family Nurse Practitioner Jenny Lang said a healthy diet - avoiding processed foods and eating more vegetables and fruit - boosts your immune system, fights cancer and infections, and helps you maintain a proper weight.

"And gives us good energy,” Lang said. "You know, if you're not putting in good energy sources, people feel fatigued, people feel low motivation; they don't have the energy to get out there and be active."

Lang has been asking children during wellness visits to tell her their favorite vegetable or fruit, and the last time they ate it. And she’s heard many parents say kids only get fresh food a few times a week. She said her patients are frequently surprised to learn that kids and parents should be eating five servings of vegetables and fruits per day.

Lang encourages people to avoid ultra-processed foods - such as frozen dinners, potato chips and soda - as much as possible. And she said fast foods are typically high in salt and fat, and are harder for the body to process.

She said it's not uncommon for people who are obese to suffer from malnutrition. And she believes good food really should be the first medicine.

"From carrots to broccoli to blueberries, you know, the more colorful it is, the more nutritious - or antioxidant rich - that food is going to be,” Lang said.

A common barrier for many of her patients is not knowing how to prepare fresh foods at home, Lang said. She recommends the website choosemyplate.gov, which has cooking tips, serving suggestions and other tools to help families get the fuel they need for better health.


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