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Foods for Diabetics: a Prescription for Better Health?

There’s a new breakthrough in diabetes treatment: food! The best foods for diabetics are fresh, healthy produce that’s low in carbs.

Spending on diabetes drugs has doubled since 2013, up to $53.7 billion in 2017. Doctors and researchers are realizing the importance of using diet and exercise as a first defense, especially for type 2 diabetes.

An innovative program called the The Fresh Food Farmacy, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Food Bank, is being tested by Geisenger Health System in Pennsylvania. Other fresh food “farmacies” are popping up around the U.S. as well.

What does the program do?

The program is in Shamokin, Pennsylvania and includes 15 hours of diabetes education and 10 free healthy meals a week for participants and their families. The venture has 150 patients so far and feeds about 450 people per week.The Fresh Food Farmacy program has been shown to lower diabetes medication costs by a whopping 80 percent.

And the real evidence that it’s improving people’s diabetes: those in the program have seen their A1C levels drop from around 9.6 to around 7.5 percent.

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Foods for diabetics: preventive medicine

Programs such as the Fresh Food Farmacy see health education and nutritious fresh foods as preventive medicine, so that those with diabetes don’t have to spend the rest of their lives spending thousands and relying on drugs and devices.

The main targets of the Fresh Food Farmacy program are people with both diabetes and food insecurity. Food insecurity is a big factor in diabetes, as people with less access to food tend to end up eating cheap, unhealthy fast foods and snacks rather than fresh produce. Food insecurity has lead countries like India, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. to have some of the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world.

The goals of the Fresh Food Farmacy program are twofold: to ease diabetes complications and to end hunger in the area. Improving diabetes complications will also lead to less cardiac disease problems in the future, which is one of the main complications of diabetes.