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CT NOFA Winter Conference Highlights ‘Food As Medicine’



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Is it possible that the food you’re eating is making you sick — or at least working counter to your efforts to develop a healthier lifestyle? Or, is it possible your food choices can actually help heal what ails you?

These questions were addressed when the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFA) conducted its 41st Annual Winter Conference from Monday, March 6 to Saturday, March 11.

On Friday, March 10, CT NOFA hosted “Food As Medicine,” a webinar highlighting Cara Joseph, a registered nurse, exercise physiologist, and advanced nutrition response testing practitioner, who is also certified in whole food nutrition through the International Foundation for Nutrition and Health.

Joseph started off by sharing that there is a “national healthcare state of crisis” taking place where the rates of major diseases are on the rise for children and adults.

She specifically highlighted how obesity and diagnosed diabetes are increasing in the United States. She provided three maps showing the drastic change from 2004, where it was relatively low, to ten years later where it had risen. Then she showed a map of obesity and diagnosed diabetes rates from 2019 and it had skyrocketed.

“We need a paradigm shift within our healthcare system. In order to make that shift, we need to shift away from managing care with medicine and focus on the primary needs of the body: organic foods. That’s foods that have not been sprayed with pesticides, that’s been grown in nutrient-dense soil, and that has been taken from local sources and harvested at the peak of ripeness,” Joseph said.

She said that is when the food has “the highest nutritional density” and most benefits for the body. That, as well as access to clean water and air, are basic needs of the body that need to be met.

Joseph talked about how at her practice they “treat food as medicine” and that as a functional nutritionist her job is to “support the body to function optimally, decreasing the presence of disease, symptoms, and need for medication.”

She discussed how nutrients are the building blocks of life and it is better to access them naturally rather than synthetically, such as through typical store-bought vitamins.

Joseph gave the example of how calcium is helpful in the body for a variety of reasons including for bones and muscular contraction/relaxation. She said that, in her opinion, raw milk is a great way to get calcium. Since it is not easily accessible, unless someone knows a dairy farmer, she mentioned people should go to realmilk.com to find where to find it locally.

“We should be eating whole foods — eat the whole pepper, eat the whole orange — to be able to get the nutrients that our body needs in the form that our body can use them,” Joseph said.

She added that just because a label at the store says a product is “non-GMO” does not mean that it has not been sprayed with pesticides. Her slideshow listed that pesticide use increases rates of disease, specifically cancer, autism, gut issues, and arthritis.

Joseph encouraged people to look for the “Organic” label sticker and to also support local farms growing organically whenever possible.

She concluded her presentation by showing photos and positive testaments from her clients about how her practice has helped them with their ailments, including diabetes, ulcerative colitis, and anxiety.

“This is all from food! Changing your diet is so important,” Joseph said.

Attendees were then given time to ask Joseph questions. Multiple people inquired about the topic of raw milk and asked what is an alternative if people have sensitivity to dairy or are vegan.

Joseph said there is a brand called Standard Process that makes calcium tablets that are dairy-free and vegan.

She also let the audience know that people can receive a free consultation from her, or fellow functional nutritionist Shelly Laibrandt, by going to caramiawellness.com to get started on their healthy journey using food as medicine.

To learn more about CT NOFA, visit ctnofa.org.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

During the CT NOFA “Food As Medicine” workshop, Cara Joseph explains how eating organic whole foods, seen in the stomach of the person to the left, is a healthier lifestyle than eating processed foods, seen in the stomach of the person to the right. In her practice, she works with clients on weekly goals suited for them based on what they are already eating.
Cara Joseph shares the prevalence of obesity and diagnosed diabetes in the United States with a color-coded map from 2019 during her CT NOFA “Food As Medicine” online presentation on Friday, March 10.
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