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Natural Awakenings

Hospital Food: New Culinary Institute Supports a Nutrition Revolution

Chef Frank Turner and the first Culinary Institute for Health Care, at Michigan’s Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, are proving that hospital food can be healthy, nutritious and tasty. There, they train chefs from around the world in recipes such as veggie hummus, roasted pears, carrot raisin slaw, maple-glazed spaghetti squash and parsley vinaigrette. Appropriate spices help regulate inflammation and blood sugar. Specialty dishes address dietary needs, from gluten-free and diabetic to cardiovascular issues and food allergies.

Despite three decades of research showing that fresh, well-prepared food is packed with natural disease-fighting nutrients that help speed healing and prevent illness, there’s long been a disconnect when it comes to hospital food. A 2003 article in the journal Nutrition reported rates of undernourishment in some U.S. hospitals as high as 41 percent, but the tide seems to be turning.

In 2008, Dr. Ronald M. Davis, immediate past president of the American Medical Association, called on hospitals to “buy meat and poultry raised without nontherapeutic antibiotics, use milk produced without recombinant bovine growth hormones and replace unhealthy snacks found in many vending machines with healthy choices.” The nonprofit coalition Health Care Without Harm has secured pledges from hospitals in 21 states to serve locally produced organic and chemical-free food. William Notte, past president of the American Society of Healthcare Food Service Administrators, reports that most hospitals now buy fresher and less processed food, because patients are demanding it.

For more information, visit revolution.

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