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On Making Food Thy Medicine

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“Let food be your medicine”

According to wellness expert and bestselling author Dr. Mark Hyman believes that food is the most powerful medicine available to treat chronic disease. Joel Fuhrman, another doctor, has found that improper nutrition causes cellular defects that drugs are ineffective against, but that such defects often respond well to proper nutrition. Chronic diseases such as cancer, type II diabetes and high blood pressure have strong nutritional links and can be reversed through diet alone. Medical students today are learning a little about the connection between diet and disease. Nonetheless, nearly 2,500 years after the Greek physician Hippocrates made the statement quoted above, the medical establishment in the West is still required to include formal training in nutrition in its medical school curriculum. Medicine as practiced in the western context is not health care but nursing; and food as health care has yet to be implemented by most practitioners.

Reversal of the therapeutic order

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In medical practice, the focus is primarily on treating symptoms of illness, with nutrition being at the bottom of the therapy pyramid. Much more emphasis is placed on surgery, pharmaceuticals and physical therapy than more natural and often equally effective methods such as exercise and stress management and diet. However, a growing number of doctors believe that in most cases treatment should begin with diet.

food and epigenetics

Epigenetic changes alter the physical structure of genetic material (DNA) without affecting the underlying DNA sequence. One of these changes is brought about by methylation, the addition of methyl groups to DNA that act as chemical “caps” that turn genes on or off, with consequences ranging from beneficial to catastrophic. Diet is a well-known factor that triggers epigenetic changes that can be passed from one generation to the next: in this way, the nutritional sins (or virtues) of parents are afflicted on children. Other factors associated with epigenetic changes include obesity, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, environmental pollutants, psychological stress and shift work. Aside from providing energy, foods send out chemical signals that move the consumer’s physiology towards health or disease – depending on the type of food eaten. Food can therefore be viewed not only as a set of macronutrients, but also as information: a form of molecular intelligence that can influence both genetics and physiology.

food and pesticides

All commercial green crops are sprayed with pesticides, including wheat crops used in pasta, grain, and animal feed. One of the most commonly used is the herbicide glyphosate (formulated as Roundup), which is used on plant leaves to kill weeds. Once considered a safe product, glyphosate is now linked to cancer, birth defects and neurotoxicity, and impacts multiple generations. Atrazine, another herbicide, has been shown to disrupt hormones, increase cancer risk, and produce negative behavioral and genetic changes that are also passed down through multiple generations.

Recent results suggest that the risk of offspring for autism spectrum disorders increases after prenatal exposure to pesticides within 2,000 m of the mother’s home during pregnancy compared to offspring of women from the same agricultural region without such exposure. In one case study, nutritional management was successfully used to treat sudden onset autism, in which a schoolchild who had previously been well-adjusted and academically excellent suddenly became violent and academically poor. The analysis revealed that the affected child’s urine contained high levels of glyphosate. Six weeks of a heavily modified organic diet resulted in undetectable urinary glyphosate levels, accompanied by a complete reversal of autism symptoms.

Make right nutritional choices

Our bodies are constantly changing, and every diet choice impacts that change. American academic and farmer Wendell Berry famously observed that people are fed by the food industry that doesn’t care about health and are treated by the health industry that doesn’t care about food. In today’s information-rich world, people are empowered to take control of their own health and well-being by making the appropriate nutritional choices. When making such decisions, an emphasis on foods rich in life energy can help reduce the impact of pesticides in the food chain. The following measures have been proven to have a positive effect on health:

Minimizing food processing – Eliminating highly processed foods such as cookies, cakes, chips, canned vegetables, sausage rolls, frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners from your diet is important to achieving and maintaining good health.

eat kimchi – and other fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, tempeh, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar. These foods add healthy bacteria and enzymes to the gut, improve digestive health, and boost the immune system. It has been estimated that one tablespoon of sauerkraut contains a trillion good bacteria, so health benefits can be obtained with relatively small amounts.

Prioritize whole foods – These are unprocessed, unrefined plant-based foods, which include whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, and quinoa, as well as fruits and vegetables. Such foods are rich in properties that nourish the microbiome and create good gut-brain connections that activate genes in the brain that mediate well-being. Experts claim that 90% of the body’s pesticides can be eliminated in a week on a raw, organic diet.

Not everyone has access to organic food. The number one rule for optimizing health is to avoid refined foods while eating seasonal foods — which means shop local. For those toxic foods that prove irresistible, following an 80/20 rule (80% nutrient-dense foods and 20% nutrient-poor foods) is a commonly agreed way to maintain health and indulge in the occasional “treat.”

Food for different effects

Many of these recommended foods promote digestion and positively change the microbiome:

  • Anti-inflammatory foods – Turmeric, walnuts, pineapple, broccoli, green tea, flaxseed, lemon, berries, melon, kale, garlic and avocado.
  • Foods for the immune system – Mushrooms, onions, garlic and honey.
  • Foods for Prostate Health – Aniseed, Celtic sea salt, lychee berries, peaches, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, tangerines, watermelons and mangoes.
  • foods for the brain – Nuts, bananas, seeds, tomatoes, dark chocolate, spinach, salmon, berries, eggs and avocado.

Conclusion

Our history and our own life choices can have a massive impact on the quality of life. By using food as medicine, we can alter our genetic expression and quality of health. In 1903, Thomas Edison predicted that the doctor of the future would use nutrition, not drugs, to cure or prevent disease. As we await this beneficial development in the medical establishment, it is possible for us to make nutritional choices that will bring life and health to the best possible state.

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The content of this article has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with questions about any medical condition.

Recommended material

  1. Let Food Be Your Medicine (UCTV): YouTube 2018 –

  2. Medicine is not health care, food is health care: Plant Metabolic Engineering, Diet and Human Health (Martin & Lee): Epub 2017, August 10. –

Thanks to Z Josephs, Ph.D

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