Living Well: Getting Back to Basics with Food

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A local digestive clinic is going down a different track and focusing on a new approach to prevent gastrointestinal diseases and disorders.

One doctor is using "food" to manage and cure the health problems it caused in the first place.

Walking down the grocery aisle it's hard not to be tempted to grab an easy meal to heat up at home. But can non "fresh" be damaging to your gastrointestinal tract?

Dr. Meenakshi Budhraja says it might and that's why, after 25 years, she's changing "course."

"I'm particularly interested in any disease that is related to food because it can be cured and managed by food alone," the gastroenterologist explains.

Two years ago she rebranded the Baptist Health Digestive Clinic as a "digestive wellness center," focusing more on preventing diseases with diet and lifestyle.

"We do know the food supply and the food system has changed. People have been eating a lot more processed food," she adds.

This is one theory for an uptick in patients diagnosed with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder which is a reaction to the protein "gluten" found in certain grains.

Here's another one.

"The method of preparation of our food has also changed," continues Dr. Budhraja.

Another component to this team is dietician Connelly Weeks. She spends a lot of time with patients helping them understand the difference between whole foods and processed foods.

"You can pick up an orange and visualize that came from a tree. It's hard to imagine a field of cheezits or marshmallows," says the registered dietician nutritionist.

The duo is providing a holistic approach to the clinic through education and intervention. They offer cooking classes for patients, who admit they don't know how to cook at home.

"That's a skill that's been lost over the last few generations, so this is what we've actually identified as a missing link," Dr. Budhraja continues.

So, the next time you visit the produce section, Dr. Budhraja wants to make sure you know how to prepare and eat it. And while you're browsing other sections, it's also important to know how to read the labels.

Three tips from Dr. Budhraja:

  • Stop drinking soda and sweet drinks. Just stick to water.

  • There's no need for snacking. You can stick to regular meals.

  • Learn how to cook. It's a life skill.

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