“Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food.”
Using food as medicine is not a new concept. The quote above comes from Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine. Spoken 2500 years ago his words remain relevant. Western Medicine has done a lot to help us, but we can’t forget how important diet is to our health and wellbeing. We can, in fact, poison our bodies and wreak havoc on our health through poor nutrition and diet. Over processed foods, excessive amounts of sugar and salt, and food additives are all dangerous and can lead to chronic disease and digestive distress.
This time of year we all put ourselves on a diet and commit to some form of exercise. Rather than putting yourself on a diet a few months or weeks out of the year, we encourage you to change your perspective on food. Start thinking of food as medicine and fuel for your body. Here are four ways focusing on your diet can significantly impact your health and wellbeing.
Prevent and Fight Chronic Disease
According to the CDC, “Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.” In 2012 the CDC reported that about half of all adults—117 million people—had one or more chronic health conditions.
These diseases can be managed and/or prevented by eating food that provides nutrition to your body. That means adjusting your diet in the following ways, according to the NCBI:
- Replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats, including sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Ensure generous consumption of fruits and vegetables and adequate folic acid intake.
- Consume cereal products in their whole-grain, high-fiber form.
- Limit consumption of sugar and sugar-based beverages.
- Limit excessive caloric intake from any source.
- Limit sodium intake.
- “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Treat digestive disorders or symptoms through diet
While medicine can have an impact on reducing or treating digestive disorder symptoms, diet can have an even bigger impact. This is why we recommend specific diets for just about every patient we see. Adjusting your diet can help acid reflux disease, GERD, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ulcers, Celiac Disease, constipation, Diverticulitis, and many more.
Boost your Immune System
Food is fuel for our bodies. Think about your car. It won’t run without gas. It also won’t run on grape soda – or other non-fuel liquids. Your body works the same way, it runs at its optimal performance when you fuel it with nutritious, whole foods. Whole foods act as medicine to heal and protect your body and boost your immune system. But when you fuel your body with processed foods, chemicals, preservatives and additives, your immune system is lowered, and your digestive system slows down. This is because these things are all devoid of nutrients and hard for the body to process.
Healthy, nutrient-rich and alive foods help your body at the cellular level and build strong defenses enabling you to combat illness and environmental toxins.
Positively Impact Mental Health
Did you know that many scientists and physicians refer to the gut as the “mini brain”? That’s because the brain and gut are connected through the Vagus nerve. The brain and the gut are so connected that Chronic stress can actually shut down your digestive system, increase acid production and cause heartburn or acid reflux.
Alternatively, putting whole, nutritious foods in your body can improve your mental function. Remember, food is fuel not just for your body but for your mind as well. Your brain requires nutrients just like your heart. When you eat non-nutritious foods you decrease brain function. There are also foods that help increase brain function like oily fish, blueberries, broccoli and avocados.
Food should be viewed as more than something that drives out hunger but the fuel that powers your body. What you eat, day in and day out (your diet) is important. Focus on nutrition and you will find yourself more energized, alert, and healthier.