Nutrition Education for Healthcare Professionals

Today’s post is a repost from MD Julie Foucher-Urcuyo’s Instagram back in March of this year. I remember it so well and feel it is so appropriate to follow yesterday’s post! Julie is an inspiration in the CrossFit and healthcare community as she is an MD, 4x CrossFit Games Athlete, hosts her own podcast “Pursuing Health” (well worth a listen!) and wife to MD Dani Urcuyo (also a staple in CrossFit and healthcare who works for SteadyMD. Check them out, it is an amazing primary healthcare concept!).

This is an excerpt from Julie’s “about” page on her website www.juliefoucher.com

“My journeys in both CrossFit and medicine began in parallel, but they have become progressively integrated as I’ve developed a better understanding of my life’s purpose. I believe it is my mission to use the talents I’ve been given to inspire and empower others to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. CrossFit has opened my eyes to the power of fitness—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—in achieving maximal health and fulfillment. I intend to integrate these insights as I proceed in my medical training and care for my patients. Subscribing to CrossFit’s definition of health, I believe my role as a future physician will not simply be to facilitate the cure of disease, but to maximize the fitness of my patients over the years of their lives.”

On to the post!

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juliefoucher

A very well-written, to-the-point viewpoint article published in JAMA yesterday on the urgency of integrating nutrition education into medical training.👆🏼 If you’re involved in medical education, (or not!) this is a MUST READ!

Some highlights:
1️⃣ The data are clear. Dietary interventions have proven to prevent and treat many chronic diseases to a greater degree than medications
2️⃣ Poor quality diet has been identified as the leading cause of death in the US
3️⃣ Most clinical guidelines cite nutrition as a primary intervention, but most physicians don’t learn how to implement such interventions in their medical training
4️⃣ Nutrition information is abundant in mainstream media, some good and some not so much. Physicians need to have the tools to understand sound nutrition recommendations and have conversations with their patients around them
5️⃣ Medical training itself is a less than ideal environment for promoting wellness and self care. An understanding of nutrition could improve not only the health of patients, but physicians themselves

One of my favorite excerpts from this piece reads: “Physicians and health care organizations can collectively begin to emphasize their seriousness about nutrition in health care by practicing what they (theoretically) preach. Is it appropriate to serve pizza and soft drinks at a resident conference while bemoaning the high prevalence of obesity and encouraging patients to eat healthier? A similarly poor example exists in medical conferences, including national meetings, where some morning sessions are accompanied by foods such as donuts and sausage. At minimum, a consensus to align food served in medical training programs and conferences with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans would be a welcome approach.”
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All I have to say is A-MEN! We all know how difficult it is to make the right decision when we are in an unhealthy environment (not to mention sleep deprived 😴). Let’s make it easy for medical trainees and staff to fuel themselves with nutritious foods and lead from the front. If we can start there, the rest will follow.

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Here is the article abstract:

“Nutrition education in medical school is rudimentary, at best, and limited for the duration of graduate medical education for many specialties. Requirements for meaningful nutrition education in all phases of medical training are long overdue.

In randomized clinical trials, dietary interventions have proven to both prevent and manage important diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.1,2 For example, compared with control groups, a Mediterranean-style diet was shown to reduce recurrent cardiovascular events by 72% (absolute difference, 2.83 events per year).1 In individuals with elevated fasting blood glucose, a combination of dietary changes and physical activity reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58% (absolute difference, 6.2 cases per 100 person-years), compared with a 31% reduction in individuals receiving metformin (absolute difference, 3.2 cases per 100 person-years).2 However, the substantial body of evidence that supports the benefits of nutritional interventions has not adequately translated into action in medical training or practice.”

Link to full text: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2729245

Straight from someone who has been through medical training herself! Unfortunately, I must agree with her. In my nursing program, there was only ONE class on nutrition and there was nothing in my bachelor’s program on nutrition at all. I have even investigated schooling for Nurse Practitioners and again, only ONE additional course (maybe two if an elective)! With a body of evidence so large on the benefits of the appropriate dietary lifestyle, one would think this would be a given to update and include nutrition education in education for healthcare professionals! With the trend of how education materials and healthcare education training is updated, it could take (literally) decades before a change is made. (For the sake of our health, I really hope not!) This is just another reason that we need to become educated and take back our health and our lives!

As in my post yesterday, there are healthcare professionals out there who have continued education and learned about nutrition as a much more holistic approach. (Health and nutrition coaches, those in integrative medicine, functional medicine, alternative medicine etc. If possible, I encourage you to seek out one of these forms of health care practitioners if you are interested in making sustainable nutritional changes or looking to take a nutritional approach to a current diagnosis you have. If that is not possible, educate yourself further and bring questions and research to your current MD to begin a much deeper conversation on YOUR health. Again, we only get one life, make sure YOU are the one in control of it!

As always, here’s to getting Healthy on Purpose my friends!

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