Food as medicine; could this be the best way to avoid disease?
Aging and pills have become a way of life for many Americans. We take a pill for blood pressure, another one for cholesterol and yet another one for a dysfunctional thyroid gland. It is a fact that Americans take more pills than any other country according to Consumer Reports. We also pay the highest prices for those medications as well.
Those who practice functional medicine take a holistic look at what went wrong with you. They then find the common elements in your body’s systems and treat the mechanism, rather than treating the symptom which may be high blood pressure or diabetes. By resolving the problem, they believe the patient is likely to stay disease-free and be healthier. Many of their approaches rely on nutrition. This differs from the allopathic approach your family doctor uses where they treat the blood pressure with a medication to control it. The difference is, if you treat the blood pressure which is caused by another area of the body, the blood pressure many improve but then something else is likely to go wrong. If you understand the mechanism behind the blood pressure and resolve it, it is believed that the patient will then function normally and they are much less likely to develop other problems later on that were avoidable.
In the 1980s, the food pyramid had told a generation of Americans to eat foods free of fat because it could make you fat. This increased the demand for foods that were fat-free and accelerated the adoption of people eating more processed foods known not for nutritional benefits, but for making us fatter. It also loaded these foods with sugar which was used to improve the taste and texture of these foods, increasing the number of people who were now diabetic. We now know that fat does not do this, but processed foods and sugars do.
While you can treat diabetes with metformin, or in the case of type 1, insulin, would a healthier diet of farm to table food made us healthier when combined with exercise? A regimen of healthy food and regular exercise can help us avoid this costly and potentially devastating disease.
Some of our food policies in the USA were also developed as a result of surpluses of corn and other staples. Surpluses were handled by developing products such as fructose corn syrup which had been sold at a cost lower than natural sugar and resulted in many soft drinks loaded with it. This was also bad for the American diet and our health.
Today, more people are health conscious and are avoiding soda that is loaded with sugar which can cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the basis for many diseases treated medicinally by doctors at a much higher cost than eating more appropriately. Many arterial and circulatory problems are inflammation based rather than being caused by cholesterol.
In many European countries, people eat healthier with many foods that are grown organically. People also get more exercise as they rely less on cars and more on cycling and walking. More Americans are getting outdoors but unless you live in a city, it is likely you are going to get in your car to go somewhere.
Most of the diseases that are treated by doctors such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome may be avoided by eating better while avoiding sugar. Americans have been slowly improving the way they eat, but the portion sizes are still too large and we still eat too many processed foods, the latest being meatless meats which are processed foods based on either soy or other plants. Stores such as whole foods have become successful because they have recognized and capitalized on these trends. Less red meat and more salads and vegetables and fruit are a start.
While not the tastiest food, kale has grown in popularity. Juicing has as well since the right combination of foods in a juicer can give you the right amount of minerals and vitamins to help you stay healthy.
Avoiding processed foods can also help since many of them are calorie-rich but nutrition poor.
I recently came across an article that discussed the medicinal value of food. Check it out below
Can Food Act as Medicine? All You Need to Know
By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD Aug. 10, 2019
What you choose to eat has profound effects on your overall health.
Research shows that dietary habits influence disease risk. While certain foods may trigger chronic health conditions, others offer strong medicinal and protective qualities.
Thus, many people argue that food is medicine.
Yet, diet alone cannot and should not replace medicine in all circumstances. Although many illnesses can be prevented, treated, or even cured by dietary and lifestyle changes, many others cannot.
This article explains the medicinal effects of food, including which foods should and shouldn’t be used for healing.
How Food Nourishes and Protects Your Body
Eating whole, nutritious foods is important because their unique substances work synergistically to create an effect that can’t be replicated by taking a supplement.