The Power Of Food As Medicine

Hippocrates, a 4th century Greek physician and considered the father of medicine once quoted, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  Hippocrates was a smart man who was way ahead of his time.

The nutritional power food possesses far surpasses the knowledge Hippocrates would have known during his lifetime, and yet he was wise enough to know that the food and the nutrients they contain can indeed be powerful medicine helping to prevent and even manage disease.

A good example of this was noted during the 1700s when sailors on many months of long exploration sea voyages would develop a disease called scurvy.  Scurvy is a vitamin C deficiency disease.  Sailors, while on their long expeditions had no access to citrus fruits rich in this necessary vitamin.  Once it was discovered that the sailors who ate citrus fruits such as lemons and limes avoided scurvy, a connection was made between using food as a medicine to prevent this disease.

Today, we have a much broader and vast knowledge of food than ever before.  Understanding how food can help the fight off disease keeping us healthy is powerful.  Many studies have shown that certain dietary patterns consistently decrease our risk of chronic disease.  One such diet is the Mediterranean diet.  This diet is a healthy eating plan rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, and is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, hypertension and certain cancers.  On the other hand, a dietary pattern rich in fatty, processed meats, lots of sugary and refined foods with few fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, stroke and hypertension. 

Plant-based foods seem to have the clear advantage when it comes to promoting and benefitting us the most in regards to having the power to nourish, protect, and heal our bodies.  Here are some of the best of the best disease-fighting foods all of us should be including within our food choices:

·         Ginger and turmeric – Both of these spices are known for their anti—inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.  Ginger is well-known as being a substance in helping prevent nausea and vomiting.

·         Berries – Whether blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or strawberries, all contain numerous phytochemicals having a positive effect on your health by reducing inflammation and possibly cancer risk.

·         Nuts – All nuts are good, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular health.  Surprisingly they can aid in weight control (due to their high protein and fiber contents) and they can be used easily in salads, yogurt, soups, and stir fries.

·         Cinnamon – This common spice, rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, looks to be beneficial in balancing blood sugar levels.

·         Green tea – The special ingredient in green tea is a mouthful – epigallocatechin gallate or (EGCG) – but it appears to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory effects along with helping protect the skin against skin damage.

·          Fish – Well-known for its omega-3 fatty acids, the American Heart Association recommends at least two 3.5 ounce servings of fatty fish a week such as salmon, mackerel, or tuna.

·         Broccoli – This cruciferous vegetable has a plethora of phytochemicals helping reduce inflammation and oxidative stress beneficial for heart health, blood sugar and cancer prevention.

·         Garlic – Add some garlic to your next meal to gain the health benefits this member of the allium family contributes.  The American Institute for Cancer Research says there is good evidence it may reduce the risk of some common cancers.

·         Cranberries – If urinary tract infections plague you, try cranberries or cranberry juice to eliminate the bacteria adhering to cells inside the bladder. Make sure you choose 100% cranberry juice and not cranberry drink which will have added sugar.

·         Shitake mushrooms – This friendly fungi has shown in human studies to have possible anti-cancer, immune boosting, and cholesterol-lowering properties.

·         Fermented foods – Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and kimchi – give these fermented foods a chance to support digestive function and health along with boosting the immune system.