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Mass General Brigham's Teaching Kitchen prescribes food as medicine

Mass General Brigham's Teaching Kitchen prescribes food as medicine
Mass General Brigham's Teaching Kitchen prescribes food as medicine 02:23

REVERE - Six out of every ten adults live with at least one chronic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 

It is a sobering statistic, but one doctors and nutritionists at Mass General Brigham are hoping to change, not with prescriptions, or medical procedures, but food.

Attached to the Mass General Revere HealthCare Center, you'll find a kitchen that looks like the set of a Food Network show. 

It's Mass General Brigham's Teaching Kitchen, and the day WBZ-TV visited, registered dietician Lisa Taylor was busy chopping, roasting and sautéing. 

"Today I am making a Harvest Salad," she explained.

The lesson is simple; food is medicine.

"It means thinking about food and nutrition in the same way we think about medications and surgeries," explained Dr. Jacob Mirsky, a primary care physician and medical director for the Teaching Kitchen.

Patients who are prescribed food can pick up bags of fresh produce at an attached pantry, and then sample dishes made with the ingredients next door at the kitchen.

"Delicioso!" exclaimed one patient as she bit into Lisa's harvest salad and a veggie lettuce wrap.

"Food is directly related to the development and progression of chronic diseases," Dr. Mirsky said, but he explained that it can also be used to treat the progression of chronic diseases as well. "Processed foods, foods that have high levels of sugar, salt, and fat directly lead to cancers, but are also associated with a wide range of other conditions including obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and more."

But you don't have to be a patient, these lessons are also available through an online cooking class called Nucook.

"Nucook is the recipe for a healthy life," explained Dr. Susan Hellerstein, an OB/GYN at Brigham and Women's Hospital and founder of Nucook.

Thousands of people have joined in and cooked along with a professional chef to learn about the power of nutrition.

"You can really make a difference in your health outcomes, in the risks of obesity, [and] chronic disease by changing what you are eating, how you are looking at food and what you put on your plate," Dr. Hellerstein said.

Both the Teaching Kitchen and Nucook, which is now using the teaching kitchen's facility in Revere, are focused on plant-based meals that are affordable.

"Our meals, we try to prepare for a family of four for less than $20," Dr. Hellerstein said.

Dr. Mirsky says the Teaching Kitchen has dramatically improved outcomes for may of his patients. "For many people who come here, receiving these foods is life changing," Dr. Mirsky said. 

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