Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, famously coined, ‘Let food be thy medicine, let medicine be thy food.’ For he knew the profound influence one’s diet has on overall health and wellness. For centuries, nutrition has played a vital role in traditional medicine. In the last few years, awareness of this relationship has been increasing with documentaries, articles, and research showing a link between dietary habits and the risk of disease, as well as longevity and quality of life.
Some foods can trigger severe health conditions, while others have protective and medicinal benefits. Alternative healthcare experts agree, food can be medicine and many illnesses can be addressed or prevented with dietary changes. Here are a few of the ways what you eat can influence your health.
Food is the body’s fuel, when chosen mindfully, it can nourish and protect from dis-ease. A healthy diet is a nutrient-rich diet, providing essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. These nutrients are vital for optimal health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) is devoid of most of these important nutrients.
Consuming whole foods, fresh produce, beans/legumes, and healthy fats can help reduce the risk of various diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers. Decreasing processed foods, and instead consuming whole foods, means you’re receiving nutrient-dense ingredients (i.e. vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, healthy fats, and protein) in every bite.
Plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and certain grains, have a plethora of benefits. They contain antioxidants helping to prevent cellular damage that can lead to disease. Those who eat a diet rich in antioxidants have a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, depression, and dementia.
Plant-based foods also contain fiber, an essential component of a healthy diet. Fiber promotes proper digestion and elimination while feeding your microbiome, the beneficial gut bacteria. High-fiber foods boost immune function while decreasing inflammation.
Additionally, replacing animal proteins with plant-based proteins, like beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and some grains reduces the amount of inflammatory foods in your diet. Inflammatory foods strain the digestive and immune systems and can cause physical discomfort, swelling, joint pain, and may even lead to autoimmune conditions.
Healthy fats and proteins found in nutritious whole foods play a vital role in the body. Amino acids, the building blocks for protein, are important for metabolism, immune function, growth, and muscle synthesis.
Good fats are important for cognitive function and can help with memory. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish (like wild-caught salmon, herring, and mackerel), nuts, and seeds, can also help regulate inflammation. Foods containing omega 3s have been linked to improved immune system function and heart health, in part via balancing cholesterol production.
Selecting locally grown and seasonal foods is another way to improve your health. Locally produced food is fresher and more nutritious than big-name brands being shipped across the country or the globe. Not only do locally sourced foods taste better, but they also spend less time in transit and storage, keeping enzymes and nutrients more readily available. Farm to table is good for you and good for your local economy too.
Eating seasonally means eating what grows naturally during different times of the year. This also offers your body what it most needs during each season. In the summer months - lighter foods, like melons, greens, raw foods, and cooling foods, provide hydration and energy. In the winter months - root vegetables, like squashes, beets, potatoes, and onions offer more warming and grounding benefits.
One of the easiest ways to reduce inflammation is through what you eat. Following an anti-inflammatory diet is less invasive than using medication. The immune system is activated when the body recognizes anything that it considers foreign. This can trigger the process of inflammation and food intolerances.
Foods such as refined carbohydrates, soda, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dairy, and red meat can cause inflammation. But many foods have anti-inflammatory benefits to combat our unhealthy diet of convenience. These include green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and olive oil, as well as spices like turmeric and ginger.
What you eat literally becomes what your cells are made of, so your eating patterns can help protect you from developing diseases. Eat more nutrient-dense, plant-based, whole foods with season and locale in mind. A Mediterranean diet rich in whole grains, healthy fats and vegetables, lean proteins and medicinal herbs and spices can help reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers; not to mention provide you with vitality, energy, and longevity.
Join us for our upcoming Nourish Dinner Event with ‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine’ Education and a Chef Prepared, Plant-Based dinner with wine pairing. Contact Advanced Health and Wellness at our Newnan, Georgia office by calling 770.253-5040.