The saying, “Let food be thy medicine” by Hippocrates, has been circulating around the globe for thousands of years, as a school of thought regarding the relationship of food and the body. Some people believe in the concept of food as medicine, while others cast it aside in favor of science and modern medicine. However, I believe we are coming to a point in time when food will once again be a legitimate form of healing, and used widely as the primary form of medicine.
As a food therapist and health coach, I have studied the relationship between food and the body, and how to use specific foods to promote healing within the body. As a former sufferer of adrenal fatigue, chronic inflammation, gut issues, migraines and more, I also have first-hand experience of how what you eat affects your body. After years of suffering with mystery conditions and borderline autoimmune symptoms, I (with the help of an amazing doctor) was able to piece my life back together – and food was a big part of my healing.
Our culture today likes to break food down into separate micro and macro nutrients, paying attention more to the individual components of each food item, rather than looking at the bigger picture. We eat tomatoes for lycopene, because we are told it will fight free radicals in the body; oranges for vitamin C, and dairy for calcium. While understanding the benefits of food is certainly valuable, this scientific analysis of everything we eat has separated us from the complete picture of our food and how what we eat influences our health, mood, relationship with the earth, and with others.
Whether you are aware of it or not, everything you eat has an impact on your body – good or bad. Through the food that we eat, the body is instructed to promote healing and balance, or inflammation and disease. The body is given what it is needed to be calm and relaxed, or stressed and agitated.
When food is viewed as medicine, an amazing shift occurs. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, etc. become more than their scientifically defined nutrients, and are appreciated for their healing properties and energy. In a culture that is run-down, constantly stressed and ill, we need to look to these energy-giving, life-giving sources of food in order to healthfully thrive. Eating a diet rich in sugar and processed foods will not do this.
However, the science of eating confuses us daily with its charts, pyramids, recommendations and indexes. For instance, these charts villainize high-sugar fruits, like dates, bananas or pineapple, while being told that candy or processed foods are ok because they are lower on the glycemic index. Yet, the sugar in a date is so different than the sugar in a candy bar; thus the energy you receive from these two foods differs completely. Science may break this down on the glycemic scale to be nearly comparable, citing that sugar is sugar, but that date will offer you vital energy in nutrients like dietary fiber, tannins, Vitamin A, potassium, antioxidant flavonoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, (which are anti-inflammatory and anti-aging), iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and copper, while your candy bar will offer you nothing but empty calories and inflammation. Your body knows what to do with the sugar in the date, because it comes in whole form, with the whole package. That candy bar, however, is so processed and broken apart, your body cannot recognize it as real food and it becomes harmful to the body. Over time, eating a lot of processed, sugary foods can lead to inflammatory conditions that contribute to chronic illness.
As I said in the beginning, I believe we are coming to a point in time when food will once again be a legitimate form of healing, and used widely as the primary form of medicine. Many people are suffering from chronic illness and many more deal with autoimmune disorders, allergies and gastrointestinal issues on a daily basis; and they want answers and healing. If you suffer from any of these, take a look at your diet. Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables to promote healing? Do you eat a lot of processed foods or low quality meats? How much sugar do you consume daily? Rather than jump from one mystery diagnosis to the next, take charge of your health and get into the kitchen!
What you eat will promote health or contribute to dis-ease. You make that choice daily, with every meal. Let food be your medicine every day. Your body will thank you.
This article can be viewed in CYACYL’s 24/Seven Magazine; February edition 2017, www.cyacyl.com