Published: April 4, 2023

Category: Regenerative Agriculture

From left, Erin Meyer, President of Basil’s Harvest, Carle Illinois Medical Student Conor Bloomer (back) Dr. Davendra Ramkumar, and Dr. Japhia Ramkumar and of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. (Credit: Basil’s Harvest)

For thousands of years, soil and environmental microbes have partnered with humans—we feed bacteria in our gut microbiome which then provides us with vitamins, hormones, and modulation of our immune systems.

“The way you feed it well is with a diverse, plant-based, whole food diet,” said Dr. Japhia Ramkumar, internist and associate professor at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Her husband, Dr. Davendra Ramkumar, is gastroenterologist and also an associate professor. Both are leading players in a project seed-funded by the Illinois Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (IRAI) to explore the microbiome connection from farm to food to human health.

The initiative, “Regenerative Agriculture and the Human Health Nexus in the Age of Climate Change” comes from non-profit Basil’s Harvest; it seeks to show how regenerative farming practices create healthier soil and plants, resulting in healthier, nutrient-dense food, and improved gut and overall human health.

Just as a healthy diet maintains a healthy microbiome, poor diet disrupts it, leading to obesity, metabolic disorders, or a growing number of chronic conditions. The Coalition of Regenerative Agriculture, Food and Health (CRAFH), was established to promote these connections, increase research, and expand market opportunities so farmers will adopt regenerative practices.

Erin Meyer, founder of Basil’s Harvest, is a dietician, chef, and food systems expert. Working with the Drs. Ramkumar, Meyer is teaching culinary medicine modules to physicians, medical students/residents, and dietitians associated with the University of Illinois College of Medicine and OSF HealthCare in Peoria. The goal: to drive up demand for regeneratively produced food from the medical establishment and the wider community, while educating farmers, food distributors, and consumers. Through Basil’s Harvest’s “Regenerative Agriculture in the Heartland” farm-to-institution initiative, OSF Hospital has connected with regional farmers to supply organic oats to feed patients.

Source: University of Illinois

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights April 2023