“Nutritional medicine must be part of medical training!”

Neuruppin, 18 June 2021

Following the successful piloting at the University of Göttingen, the Brandenburg Medical School was the second university in Germany to introduce “Culinary Medicine” as an innovative optional subject in medical training in the summer term of 2021. The idea is to translate current findings from nutritional medicine into patients’ lifeworlds, improve physicians’ consulting expertise for nutrition-associated diseases, and explore culinary aspects in joint cooking sessions.

Can Gero Leineweber, 11th-semester medical student and Skills Lab coordinator, is one of the initiators of this course. He welcomes the opportunity to lend more weight to nutritional medicine in medical training and thus to contribute to improved health provision: “About 70 to 80 percent of all diseases are estimated to have causes, backgrounds or therapeutic consequences related to nutrition. Numerous disorders such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease, cancer, cachexia and hormonal abnormalities may be attributed to false or deficient nutrition or to overeating. This means that a healthy diet reduces the risk of severe conditions in advance.”

Connection between health and food

Selina Böttcher, 5th-semester student and registered dietician, coordinates the Culinary Medicine programme at the MHB. She points out that doctors frequently are the first contact point for people who plan a diet change: “But this aspect of a physician’s work is generally pretty much neglected in medical training. We are convinced that nutritional medicine should form part of the medical curriculum. This is why we started an MHB initiative for healthy diet in July 2020 and found that the Göttingen project fits in well with our intentions.”

For the duration of the course participants are connected via videoconference with student instructors in the Teaching Kitchen and interactively reproduce the previously selected recipes in their own kitchens. Nutritional-physiological and practical culinary issues are discussed throughout the session. A theoretical introduction addresses clinical relevance and dietetic aspects.

28 sessions in total present clinical indications based on the evidence-based “guideline nutrition therapy in hospitals and medical practice”. The new optional subject Culinary Medicine raises students’ awareness of connections between health and food and improves their future consulting competences for diet-related diseases. According to Selina Böttcher, culinary pleasures will not be neglected in the process: “A good dietary therapy is never dogmatic.”

Due to the persisting tense Corona situation the multicentre evaluation is conducted in exclusively digital format in the summer term of 2021 as well. All institutions conduct the course in the same form and use the same specifically designed survey for evaluation so that collected data can be jointly analysed and published. The University of Giessen also joined the programme in this summer term.

The two medical students have more plans for the future, such as another online course for the coming lecture-free period and a further fundamental studies course with partial attendance in the winter term. They would be pleased to see nutritional medicine in additional teaching formats and modules at the MHB and elsewhere.

Can Gero Leineweber und Selina Böttcher
E-Mail: ernaehrung@mhb-fontane.de