Medicine, by definition means "a compound or preparation used for the treatment or prevention of disease".
Food, a lot like medicine, has the ability to alleviate, treat, and prevent many unwanted, harmful illnesses and their painful symptoms too.
You have a choice three times per day to eat the types of foods that either nourish your body and promote health, or to choose the opposite: processed and packaged foods that are devoid of many important nutrients and contribute to the development of unwanted conditions in the body.
Food experts now say that about 75% of all chronic diseases could be prevented by people living a healthier lifestyle.
A healthy lifestyle includes many ongoing factors - exercise, stress reduction, steering clear of damaging things like smoking and excessive alcohol - but perhaps the most important of these lifestyle factors is your diet; that is, the food and drinks that you put directly into your body that have a dramatic impact on your overall health and well-being.
Foods - the way that vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and phytochemicals naturally get entered in out bodies - have the power to affect your body in the same way that drugs or prescription medicines too, although few of us take as much precaution when we choose what to put on our plates.
The food you eat effects your gut health, and your gut in turn controls a large part of your immunity against age-related diseases and also your energy levels.
The "good bacteria" inside your gut build and maintain the gut wall, which protect the body from outside invaders like “bad bacteria”, viruses, and pathogens. The gut is also responsible for absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat and using these to fight harmful “free radicals”. Here’s how the process works:
• Everyone produces free radicals naturally in their own body; they are a "by-product" of normal body function, however they are damaging to our cells if they become too present in our bodies.
• Anti-oxidants fight free-radicals; antioxidants come from healthy, natural plant-based foods that are rich in nutrients- things like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
• When we don’t eat enough healthy foods that contain antioxidants, free radicals overwhelm our cells, cause harm, and disease occurs (Ref. 1, 2).
A good indicator that a food contains antioxidants is it is noticeable color.
Examples of this would be the blue/purple color that blueberries have, the deep red of tomatoes, the bright orange of carrots, and so on. The different colors in fruits and vegetables indicate the different types of antioxidants. There are many types of helpful antioxidants, so you want to make sure you get as many types as possible by varying the different colors that you eat. This means it is a good idea to eat a range of healthy foods whenever you can, as opposed to only eating several different kinds and ignoring the majority of the others.
Deep down we all know the basic truth about which kinds of food are best for us and which kinds harm us.
The types of foods that are "our medicine" are those that are actually most simple; often these foods come in no fancy packaging and are not labeled anything special, such as "gluten free", "light", or "low carb". The kinds of foods that heal our bodies and prevent disease are those that have been eaten for thousands of years. Usually these foods are one simple ingredient (because that’s how nature intended for them to be): almonds, oats, salmon, berries, broccoli, eggs, potatoes, kale, quinoa, just to name a few.
Yes, we all have a busy schedule and are pulled in many directions, so while it may be hard for you to shop for, prepare, and cook healthy fresh meals every day for yourself and your family, starting with the basics and keeping things super simple is the best thing you can do. Whenever you are shopping for food, ask yourself this question: “is this something that I can picture growing in nature?” Whether it be a plant food or one from an animal, if is contains 1-2 ingredients only and you can easily identify its origins, chances are it’s a “medicinal food” in one way or another.
More than anything else, the take home message is that you need to eat real food to maintain your bodily health. Whether those foods be higher in protein, high in carbs, or higher in fat may vary from person to person depending on their preferences, but making sure that you consume high-quality, natural food should be priority number one for everybody.
1. "Antioxidants". The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved online from https://www.eatright.org/public/content.aspx?id=6792
2. "What Are Antioxidants?" The Institute of Food Technologists. Retrieved online from https://www.ift.org/knowledge-center/learn-about-food-science/food-facts/what-are-antioxidants.aspx