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Adventist Health Howard Memorial Takes Commitment to Wellness Further

Health and Wellness, 2019

Did you know that eating processed meat poses significant health risks? In line with this and with its commitment to keeping our community healthy, Adventist Health Howard Memorial (AHHM) has removed processed foods from Roots Restaurant and patient menus.

AHHM joins a handful of hospitals in the nation in its move to remove processed meats and the first in the region. This decision was made in accordance to recommendations from the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which both advocate for removal of processed meats such as bacon, hotdogs, sausages and deli meats from menus due to their link to higher risk of colorectal cancer.

Processed meat includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats. It refers to meat that has been treated in some way to preserve or flavor it. Processes include salting, curing, fermenting, and smoking. In 2015, the World Health Organization published evidence that diets high in processed meats are attributable to 34,000 cases of cancer every year. The same study found that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. Two years later, the American Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the country, adopted a resolution calling on hospitals to do three things: add plant-based meals to their menus, get rid of processed meats, and re-stock beverage coolers with more healthful drinks. The move by the AMA follows years of clinical studies linking diets high in animal products and sugar with chronic ailments, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and diabetes. Recently, an article published in the AHA’s journal Circulation: Heart Failure that suggests that processed meats double your risk of dying of heart failure. For each 50-gram serving of processed meat daily, about the size of a regular hot dog, heart failure risk increased by 8 percent, and the chances of dying from heart failure increased by 38 percent.

AHHM has always been on the leading edge of using food as medicine and promoting wellness. Thanks to a collaboration with the Howard Foundation, the hospital provides patients with fresh produce from the Commonwealth Garden and features healthy plant-based options on its patient menu. The same is true for the hospital’s farm-to-fork restaurant which serves over 150 meals every day to hospital staff and community members.

“Raising awareness and promoting long-term health is a key part in prompting the change,” says Jason Wells, Adventist Health Howard Memorial’s president. “We see this not just as a way to help our patients heal and reduce their risks for negative health outcomes, but also as a platform to educate. When we are able to show that healthy food can taste great, patients are more willing and excited to try to make those changes once they get home. A key part of this initiative and our work towards promoting wellness in the community is our Nutritional Services department. We’re fortunate to have such a talented team that allows us to walk the talk when it comes to using food as medicine.”

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a national non-profit of 12,000 doctors, lauds the hospital’s effort towards providing healthy food to patients. “Adventist Health Howard Memorial has become a leader in preventing diet-related diseases by providing tasty, plant-based options and removing cancer-causing processed meats from patient menus,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “This hospital is one of the first to adopt the American Medical Association’s new policy on healthful, healing hospital food.”

Anna Herby, registered dietitian and diabetes educator says the driving force behind the change was nutrition education and to truly help patients heal. “As a dietitian, this excites me and it’s really comforting to know that the food we provide is truly good for them. When we are discussing heart health, weight loss, diabetes management or post-operative nutritional care, patients are excited to hear that the tasty food they have been enjoying in our hospital is the basis of their prescribed diet at home. By exposing our patients to a wider variety of plant-based options, we are not only helping them heal during their stay with us, but also encouraging them to prepare healthier meals at home.”

Patients at AHHM can recuperate with a “Power Porridge” with chia seeds or Oatmeal Pancakes for breakfast. The hospital’s menu for patients also includes house made soups, black bean burgers, and meats cooked fresh in their restaurant rather than from a package.

“We are fortunate that we have this nutrition foundation to help us educate patients and our community. We don’t want to lose that great opportunity to have an impact on our patients when they are recovering in the hospital,” Herby adds.

Since opening Roots Restaurant, the hospital has also added more plant-based options to the menu. There is a fresh, daily salad bar, a veggie bowl with quinoa prepared right in front of customers and vegetarian/vegan options are available every day. Brady Heiken, Nutritional Services Operations Manager states, “We want to empower everyone who eats at Roots and in our hospital to try new foods, which helps them realize that healthy food can taste great and can be easily made at home.”

Did you know that eating processed meat poses significant health risks? In line with this and with its commitment to keeping our community healthy, Adventist Health Howard Memorial (AHHM) has removed processed foods from Roots Restaurant and patient menus.

AHHM joins a handful of hospitals in the nation in its move to remove processed meats and the first in the region. This decision was made in accordance to recommendations from the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which both advocate for removal of processed meats such as bacon, hotdogs, sausages and deli meats from menus due to their link to higher risk of colorectal cancer.

Processed meat includes hot dogs, ham, bacon, sausage, and some deli meats. It refers to meat that has been treated in some way to preserve or flavor it. Processes include salting, curing, fermenting, and smoking. In 2015, the World Health Organization published evidence that diets high in processed meats are attributable to 34,000 cases of cancer every year. The same study found that eating 50 grams of processed meat every day increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. Two years later, the American Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the country, adopted a resolution calling on hospitals to do three things: add plant-based meals to their menus, get rid of processed meats, and re-stock beverage coolers with more healthful drinks. The move by the AMA follows years of clinical studies linking diets high in animal products and sugar with chronic ailments, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and diabetes. Recently, an article published in the AHA’s journal Circulation: Heart Failure that suggests that processed meats double your risk of dying of heart failure. For each 50-gram serving of processed meat daily, about the size of a regular hot dog, heart failure risk increased by 8 percent, and the chances of dying from heart failure increased by 38 percent.

AHHM has always been on the leading edge of using food as medicine and promoting wellness. Thanks to a collaboration with the Howard Foundation, the hospital provides patients with fresh produce from the Commonwealth Garden and features healthy plant-based options on its patient menu. The same is true for the hospital’s farm-to-fork restaurant which serves over 150 meals every day to hospital staff and community members.

“Raising awareness and promoting long-term health is a key part in prompting the change,” says Jason Wells, Adventist Health Howard Memorial’s president. “We see this not just as a way to help our patients heal and reduce their risks for negative health outcomes, but also as a platform to educate. When we are able to show that healthy food can taste great, patients are more willing and excited to try to make those changes once they get home. A key part of this initiative and our work towards promoting wellness in the community is our Nutritional Services department. We’re fortunate to have such a talented team that allows us to walk the talk when it comes to using food as medicine.”

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a national non-profit of 12,000 doctors, lauds the hospital’s effort towards providing healthy food to patients. “Adventist Health Howard Memorial has become a leader in preventing diet-related diseases by providing tasty, plant-based options and removing cancer-causing processed meats from patient menus,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “This hospital is one of the first to adopt the American Medical Association’s new policy on healthful, healing hospital food.”

Anna Herby, registered dietitian and diabetes educator says the driving force behind the change was nutrition education and to truly help patients heal. “As a dietitian, this excites me and it’s really comforting to know that the food we provide is truly good for them. When we are discussing heart health, weight loss, diabetes management or post-operative nutritional care, patients are excited to hear that the tasty food they have been enjoying in our hospital is the basis of their prescribed diet at home. By exposing our patients to a wider variety of plant-based options, we are not only helping them heal during their stay with us, but also encouraging them to prepare healthier meals at home.”

Patients at AHHM can recuperate with a “Power Porridge” with chia seeds or Oatmeal Pancakes for breakfast. The hospital’s menu for patients also includes house made soups, black bean burgers, and meats cooked fresh in their restaurant rather than from a package.

“We are fortunate that we have this nutrition foundation to help us educate patients and our community. We don’t want to lose that great opportunity to have an impact on our patients when they are recovering in the hospital,” Herby adds.

Since opening Roots Restaurant, the hospital has also added more plant-based options to the menu. There is a fresh, daily salad bar, a veggie bowl with quinoa prepared right in front of customers and vegetarian/vegan options are available every day. Brady Heiken, Nutritional Services Operations Manager states, “We want to empower everyone who eats at Roots and in our hospital to try new foods, which helps them realize that healthy food can taste great and can be easily made at home.”

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About Adventist Health Howard Memorial (formerly Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital) is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, nonprofit integrated health system serving more than 80 communities on the West Coast and Hawaii. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist heritage and values, Adventist Health provides care in hospitals, clinics, home care agencies, hospice agencies and joint-venture retirement centers in both rural and urban communities. Our compassionate and talented team of 35,000 includes associates, medical staff physicians, allied health professionals and volunteers driven in pursuit of one mission: living God's love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope. Together, we are transforming the American healthcare experience with an innovative, yet timeless, whole-person focus on physical, mental, spiritual and social healing. Visit www.adventisthealthhowardmemorial.org for more information.