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Wellness: Food as Medicine

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Innovative Nutrition Interventions to Improve Health

Many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, contain an array of bioactive compounds that are not included among the established list of 40 essential nutrients. Thousands of these natural compounds may impact health, and recent studies show that many of these non-nutrient compounds can help guard against cancer and chronic diseases such as heart conditions and diabetes.

Plant foods and plant derivatives have been used for centuries to treat many types of illness, and the potential to understand more about the relationship between diet and health holds real promise. Studies of the Mediterranean diet, for example, are of particular interest to better understand and quantify the beneficial effects of the various fruits and vegetables used in this cuisine which has been shown to protect against cardiovascular diseases, oxidative stress, and cancer.

A Transformation to Wellness

We now know that we can control our health destiny to a surprising degree by pursuing a healthy lifestyle – and it starts with healthy eating. In today’s world of rising healthcare costs, we must all actively pursue personal wellbeing and promote healthy nutrition and behaviors for ourselves and our communities.

It all begins with the food we eat. In fact, food acts as medicine. A healthy diet helps us to maintain good health and prevent disease, and there is growing awareness of these benefits. As we can see in the abundance of media stories about antioxidants, phytochemicals, nutraceuticals, and super foods, people want to understand more about the relationship between diet and health. This is both a public health challenge and a vital opportunity, and the Zuckerman College of Public Health is ready to lead the way to wellness through dietary research and promotion.

As a public health strategy, diet helps to:

  • Maintain optimum health throughout life
  • Prevent early onset of chronic diseases
  • Promote longevity and healthier aging

Our “Food as Medicine” Goal

We will lead innovative research focused on the role of food in modulating oxidative DNA and lipid damage, reducing obesity, improving glycemic control and reducing chronic inflammation. Data from these studies will serve to improve the health and well-being of the global

population and to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Our “Food as Medicine” Plan

We will conduct a series of feeding intervention studies (clinical trials) of different foods that contain bioactive compounds to evaluate the protective effects of those foods on the glucose levels, insulin levels, biomarkers of chronic inflammation, lipid peroxidation by-products and antioxidant defense systems. The research will assess high risk populations such as obese and diabetic children, smokers, and high-risk adults. Metabolomic biomarkers will also be measured (the quantitative measurement of the dynamic metabolic response of our body to pathophysiological stimuli or genetic modification) to quantify potential benefits from the bioactive compounds.

How You Can Be Involved

Contributions to support the “Food as Medicine” Initiative are being accepted by the Zuckerman College of Public Health. All contributions are 100% tax deductible through the University of Arizona Foundation.

Give Now

For more information contact Dean Iman Hakim at ihakim@ arizona.edu / (520) 626-5664 or Donna Knight at dknight@arizona.edu / (520) 626-6459.


Make a gift to public health today

Food as Medicine

A powerful approach to health and healing

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Make a gift to public health today

Research & Dissemination Plan

Food’s Natural Ability to Manage and Prevent Chronic Disease

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More Information

If you would like more information about giving opportunities, please contact:

Donna Knight

Donna Knight
Director of Development

(520) 626-6459
dknight@arizona.edu

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