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Cultivating wellness: the growth of green hospitals


Feeding is a physiological act enriched by social and cultural interactions. The evolution of hospital nutrition and diet therapy has progressed in tandem with medical science and sociocultural changes. Food has transformed from a mere survival necessity to a modifiable factor that can either enhance health, be adequate, become deficient, or excessive.

The link between diet and health has been acknowledged as critical since the era of Classical Greek Medicine, where Hippocrates himself declared, "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food."

Current problem

Hospital food service is a multifaceted industrial operation involving various stakeholders and strategies. Professionals in hospital food service are dedicated to enhancing quality, portion control, preparation, cooking techniques, menu diversity, dietary request systems, and streamlined food access for patients. These efforts are key in maintaining and improving patients' nutritional status and reducing the amount of food wasted.

The issue of industrialized foods containing preservatives and harmful agrochemicals highlights the gradual shift towards "green hospitals," which aim to undertake environmentally friendly actions.


The interplay of dietary quality and a patient's clinical condition can lead to decreased nutrient intake and subsequent hospital malnutrition, extending hospital stays and increasing healthcare costs. Moreover, the rising prevalence of conditions such as overweight and obesity is linked to the consumption of ultra-processed foods high in sugars, sodium, and fats, which in turn escalates morbidity and mortality rates.

We advocate for "healthy gardens" and the cultivation of natural resources devoid of pesticides for food self-sufficiency in harmony with the environment.


The culinary industry's techniques, coupled with hospital dietetics, have fostered the ongoing enhancement of quality processes mandated by health accreditation standards and the competitive nature of the sector.

Regulating hospital gardens can secure a self-sufficient and wholesome diet for patients and staff by utilizing nature's bounty to produce healthful vegetables.

Health institutions are progressively embracing organic gardens and homemade preparations free from pesticides, aiming for self-sufficiency. They seek to cultivate, nourish, and maintain a healthy diet by systematizing hospital procedures, habits, and challenges.

These gardens can also function as therapeutic spaces for patients, fostering the revival of productive activities, work, and social connections.


Healthy gardens prove to be productive and beneficial by providing access to essential vitamins and minerals, which play a crucial role in patient's recovery processes and cost reduction.

Their development positions hospitals as champions of environmental care and public health, adding immense value on a human scale and promoting the comprehensive well-being of individuals and their communities.

illuminem Voices is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of leading Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the authors

Marcelo Fabian Saitta is a university specialist in pediatrics belonging to a team of doctors interested in the environment and its place in health.

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Laura Silvia Adduci is a university specialist in neurosurgery belonging to a team of doctors interested in the environment and its place in health.

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María Verónica Viñas Chacior is a university specialist in general surgery belonging to a team of doctors interested in the environment and its place in health.

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Dr. Diego Balverde is an economist with experience in climate finance. Diego is very active on the international sustainability stage having attended COP27 as a circular economy for climate change specialist and will also be attending the G20 Conference in India. 

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