JWU Collaborations: Denver Students Take Part in Pioneering Culinary Medicine Course

Story by Holli Keyser , on Aug 1, 2017 2:15 PM


What do doctors, dentists and chefs have in common? No, this isn’t your run-of-the mill cocktail party joke. The common denominator between the three disciplines is that healthy eating sustains healthy bodies and minds.

Thanks to a program funded by Delta Dental of Colorado to support interprofessional education among health professionals, medical and dental students from the University of Colorado joined Johnson & Wales University’s Culinary Nutrition chefs and faculty for a revolutionary eight-week Culinary Medicine course.

What you eat has such an impact on your oral health, and oral health impacts your overall health.

“Culinary Medicine provides the opportunity for substantive change in the way medicine, dental health and the culinary arts are practiced in the United States,” said Marleen Swanson, Denver Campus culinary nutrition chair.

Held at JWU Denver’s Center for Culinary Nutrition, future physicians and dentists are presented with case studies to provide a stronger foundation to counsel patients on health. The real fun begins when students create meals to support their learning — from healthy breakfasts and lunches to smoothies. Culinary Nutrition students and faculty are integrated in the course to demonstrate proper knife skills and share their expertise of nutrition.

“Their future patients will ask them a lot of questions about diet and they just don’t get a lot of training on it,” said Michele Doucette, PhD, assistant dean of curriculum for University of Colorado’s School of Medicine. “A class like this is invaluable.” The Culinary Medicine course is modeled after curriculum established in 2012 by Tulane University School of Medicine and JWU’s Providence Campus. The program in Denver, however, is the first in the country where dental students receive this level of culinary nutrition.

“What you eat has such an impact on your oral health, and oral health impacts your overall health,” said second-year dental student Gabriela Andrade. With an affinity for cooking, Andrade said she is excited to help patients understand the connection between good oral hygiene and healthy eating.