embracing nutrition and functional medicine

Can Food be Used as Medicine?

ESTIMATED READING TIME 5 MINUTES

Can food be used as medicine

Throughout August, we’ve been posting on our socials about the amazing medicinal power of food. Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, wasn’t wrong when he said almost 2500 years ago: ‘let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’.

Food and herbs were the original medicines. In fact, many modern medicinal drugs have their roots in plant compounds. Aspirin, for example, is a copy of a naturally occurring plant compound found in the bark of willow trees. On the other hand digoxin, a medicine used for many years for heart failure, was originally extracted from foxgloves.

Food contains a myriad of incredible beneficial compounds your body can use for its natural processes. Let’s have a look at some of them now.

  • Antioxidants

Antioxidants protect your body’s cells from damage that may otherwise lead to disease. They’re particularly beneficial for supporting your heart and brain health, and protecting the DNA of cells. They literally prevent the degenerative changes in body cells resulting from ageing.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally high in antioxidants. They’re especially concentrated in berries, green vegetables like broccoli and kale, and nuts and seeds. They’re the compounds giving food its colour. So, if you opt for a wide array of colourful fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet, you’ll also be including a good range of these antioxidants. This is important as they all work synergistically together to support your health.

  • Healthy Fats

Modern diets are notoriously low in Omega 3 fats. These are crucial for skin and brain health, supporting a healthy heart, and reducing inflammation. The last point is particularly important for good health because ongoing inflammation is at the root of all chronic diseases.

  • Fibre

Fibre provides nourishment for your microbiome. This symbiotic community of bacteria keeps your gut healthy, regulates your immune system and sends out chemicals all over your body to keep your brain happy and your hormones balanced. All plant foods naturally contain fibre, but most of it doesn’t look like fibre as it hides inside the fruit or vegetable rather than sitting on the outside.

Processed Foods Aren’t Medicine

One of the many problems with processed foods is they’re lacking these amazing compounds. When a food is processed, parts of the original food are isolated, bits discarded and chemicals added to bind it all together and make it taste appetising. A good example is healthy Omega 3 fats. They spoil quickly so they’re removed from processed foods, as these need to have a long shelf life.

Your diet is probably very different today to the food your parents ate. Modern food is depleted in nutrients and loaded with pesticides and other additives like preservatives. Often, food has been altered from its original state so much it’s not even recognised by the body as food. This can confuse the immune system and result in a low-grade immune reaction.

Natural Food is Medicine

Can food be used as medicine

Just as Hippocrates taught, following a healthy diet can support your body’s balance and overall health. This is incredibly empowering because now you can influence your own health and longevity simply by eating food!

Food works in harmony with your body and humans have evolved over thousands of years to thrive on it. But food has changed so much over the last few decades, genetics simply cannot keep pace. Eating like your ancestors did – and that means binning processed foods, fake meats and foods doused in modern chemicals like pesticides and herbicides – and you’ll be eating in alignment with your genes. One great suggestion is to avoid eating packaged foods containing more than five ingredients, even if they claim to be healthy.

Nutritional supplements can be fantastic tools to support health and overcome disease but they’re not a substitute for healthy eating. Unlike foods, supplements don’t always contain those additional synergetic substances. Plus, they work out more expensive, as they have to be made for you. Fresh food cooked in your kitchen is always best. So, think of supplements as adding value rather than replacing something you’re not eating.

Of course, you are different to me, and I am different to the next person because everyone has had their own life journey. This, combined with genetics creates biochemically unique bodies and therefore different nutritional needs.

Personalised Support for Healthy Food Choices

Our philosophy here at Embracing Nutrition is a food-centred approach. We are constantly humbled by the power of food to improve health outcomes.

Recognising healthy food can be a minefield, however. It’s easy to believe convincing-looking health claims from food manufacturers. Peek at the label, however, and it may tell a different story, revealing a load of sugar and additives and only one or two healthy ingredients. This is where we can help. We’ll cut through the confusion, help you overcome any barriers to healthy eating step by step, and provide you with achievable, actionable tips to help you navigate your way to an optimal diet.

Book a consultation or contact us to start your journey to better health.

 

Did you know you can request a FREE 15 minute Discovery Call

Do you need personalised support for healthy food choices? Then book a free 15-minute discovery call to see if Functional Medicine is for you.

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