Hippocrates once said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We probably all aware that some foods are better for us than others, but how do we know which kinds of foods can be used as medicine?
Hippocrates was ahead of his time, and most likely one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine and healing. In 400 B.C., Hippocrates advised people to eat a nutrient-dense diet to better treat and prevent diseases. The truth of the matter is that all calories are not created equal when it comes to their nutritional density. The foods you consume each and every day truly impact your health and wellness. Foods not only provide energy, they also keep you alive and thriving. If you are not getting the right types of food, your body will not thrive. You may also become undernourished, overweight or at risk for serious disease or conditions. The nutrients in food enable the cells in your body to perform at their absolute best.
The sad truth is that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is not contributing to our health in a positive way. Foods that are overly processed like convenience foods and packaged foods might actually compromise our health. Most processed foods have the natural nutrients removed in the process of refinement, so you must seek those nutrients elsewhere. Many, if not all, processed foods also have additives, such as artificial flavors and colors, which are also not healthy.
According to the website Dr. Axe, food works like medicine by providing the following benefits:
• Decreasing and controlling inflammation.
• Balancing hormones.
• Alkalizing the body.
• Balancing blood sugar.
• Detoxifying and eliminating toxins.
• Improving the absorption of toxins.
So in light of this, you may be wondering what kinds of foods provide the best medicine?
The best foods to aim for are fresh/raw vegetables, organ meats and bone broth, probiotic foods, omega-3 foods and healthy fats. High-antioxidant foods, and high-fiber foods are also recommended.
Green vegetables like spinach, kale and wheat grass are some of the best to eat when it comes to healthy food . Vegetables from the sea and vegetable juice are also great choices. Try our green smoothie recipe here to reduce bloating. These kinds of foods can also slow the aging process .
They do this by helping to restore the body’s natural pH balance, curbing hunger, and preventing nutrient deficiencies, and detoxifying the blood. These kinds of foods are also low in calories and rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and vitamins like vitamin K and C.
Antioxidants develop naturally within plants helping to protect the plants from a harsh damaging environment. They also help protect the plant against predators, ultraviolet radiation and pollution and toxins.
Phytonutrients help shield plants from predators while also providing their natural color, flavor and smell. The same thing can also help protect us when we eat these types of foods.
It has been shown that disease tends to thrive in an acidic body. The fact is, our body do become more acidic as we age due to all sort of environmental factors. By eating natural foods like raw vegetables, you can turn it around and becomes more alkaline, which helps prevent cellular damage. Vegetables of all kinds help to lower free radical damage as well as control inflammation, plus many also provide prebiotics and a nice dose of fiber.
Organ Meats and Bone Broth
Organ meats are incredibly nutrient dense. This includes things like chicken liver or beef liver. Liver is one of the true superfoods and exceptionally high in zinc, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and much more. While you may not think of liver as a superfood, the practice of utilizing all parts of an animal has been done for many years. This is also known as the nose to tail approach.
Consuming nutrient-packed organ meats and other edible parts of animals that are normally thrown away is a good environmental practice to engage in.
Consuming the bones, skin, and ligaments or in the form of bone broth, can help give your body much-needed nutrients like glucosamine, collagen and even trace minerals and electrolytes.
These nutrients can also help ward off and treat illnesses like chronic fatigue, leaky gut, irritable bowel disorders (IBD), and even arthritis and joint pain in addition to things like allergies.
Probiotics are another great food that can act like medicine. Probiotics are not only good for digestion; they are also good for immune function. The digestive system is actually a large part of your neurological system. It actually contains up to 80% of your entire immune system, believe it or not. Many illnesses actually stem from poor gut health, including food allergies, chronic fatigue, joint pain, and even autism.
The microbes that make up the flora of your gut are also responsible for your appetite, inflammatory processes, and even cognitive functioning as well as neurotransmitter production. What this really means is that everything from your mood to your energy levels can be related to your gut health. Foods like yogurt, kombucha, kefir, and cultured veggies are rich in probiotics and foods like chicory, asparagus and artichokes are good prebiotics.
Good fats are also essential for good health. They help reduce inflammation, improve cognitive health and can even help with hormone production. Eating omega-3 foods may also help fight cancer, aid in weight loss and cellular healing. Omega-3 fats are also natural anti-inflammatories that can help counteract the effects of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats, which are very high in modern-day diets.
The best sources of omega-3s include foods like sardines, halibut, salmon, tuna and mackerel. Other sources might come from plants including chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Healthy fats are also good for you. Foods like extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, avocadoes and the omega-3 fats in wild-caught salmon can help you lower bad cholesterol and help you with weight loss .
High-antioxidant foods help slow the damaging effect of aging. They do this by reducing free radical damage. Look for foods that are brightly colored like berries, leafy greens, bright root vegetables and fresh herbs, and spices. Foods that are red, green or yellow are smart choices for high-antioxidant foods.
High Fiber Foods
If you are not getting enough fiber, you’re certainly not alone. Less than 5% of Americans get the recommended amount of dietary fiber every day. Fiber not only helps you stay regular, it also helps your heart health and your digestive system and it also helps boost your immune system. Fiber also helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, promote the growth of good probiotic bacteria and helps strengthen the colon walls. It can also help to maintain normal blood sugar levels and help prevent insulin resistance.
Try aiming for at least 25–30 grams of fiber daily. A diet high in fiber may also help protect you from cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
Foods that tend to be high in fiber include foods like leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower, avocado, coconut, starchy veggies, berries, nuts, seeds, sprouted legumes, and ancient grains.
Food can either hurt you or help you. In general, many lifestyle medicine physicians recommend a plant-based diet, especially for those with diabetes or other inflammatory conditions.
In summary, this is what a Medicinal Food Diet Looks Like
If you are really serious about using food as medicine, it’s best to focus on these types of foods:
1. Organic vegetables.
2. Fresh fruits.
3. Grass fed or pasture-raised meats.
4. Low-glycemic carbs.
5. Healthy fats.
6. Superfoods and condiments.
7. Healthy drinks.
Organic vegetables are high in fiber and low on the glycemic index. These include things like leafy greens, mushrooms, asparagus, sea vegetables, squash, and even fresh herbs just to name a few.
Fresh fruits like citrus, melon, and berries are a great source of antioxidants. Try using fruits that are in season for the best taste.
If you choose to eat meat, aim for grass-fed or pasture-raised meats. Turkey, cage-free eggs, fish and organ meats are a good place to start.
Try some sprouted ancient grains or soaked legumes and aim for carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index.
Olive oil, coconut oil, wild seafood and avocados provide healthy fats in a natural way.
Superfoods and condiments are a great way to spice up a meal. These types of foods may include things like apple cider vinegar, raw honey, garlic, cinnamon or sea salt.
Avoiding sugary beverages and focusing on healthy drinks is another simple thing you can do. Healthy drinks may include things like seltzer, fresh vegetable juice, bone broth or herbal teas.
If you want to start using food as medicine, one of the best places to start is in the produce department at your local grocery store or at the local butcher.
Sometimes getting back to the basics is the best plan of action.