Food is Medicine (Health and Nutrition)
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”.
Here are some facts: four of the ten leading causes of death in US and Canada – heart diseases, cancer, stroke and diabetes are linked to the way we eat and what we eat. Diet also contributes to the causation of many other diseases ranging from acne to arthritis, hair loss to memory loss, from premenstrual syndrome to chronic headaches.
With the advancement in the technologies and digitalization of our world, we are forgetting the most important fact of our life, the fact that has been known since the beginning of time : FOOD IS STRONG MEDICINE. This change in attitude did not come overnight, it took hundreds of years. Until the dawn of twentieth century food therapy was commonly practiced, as we were primarily a nation of small farms. People largely ate what they grew: ‘whole foods’ high in nutrients and fibre and low in fat. But then came the industrial revolution and with it a new attitude towards food, and new ways of eating. Our diet went from low fat, high fibre and plant based to one that has high fat, low fibre and is primarily from animal source.
With the change in diet, we also saw a change in the pattern of diseases over the same period of time: increase in heart attacks, cancers and strokes. How can we ignore this link? It seems so obvious. People rarely got heart attacks and cancers back then. Heart diseases and hypertension are the twentieth century problems. I’m not saying these diseases did not exist then, but they were not as prevalent as they are now.
With the advent of televisions and their introduction into people’s homes, the quality of food was further downgraded to processed and refined foods. People started eating these Quick-to-prepare snacks in front of their TV sets, further encouraged by the extensive advertisements of such foods on TVs.
Why have people made these quick-to-prepare and nutrition-lacking foods a part of their daily diets?
– To save time: no “hassle” of preparation and cooking and moreover it saves people time to watch their favourite TV show in the evening. But think about it- Is your health not worth the 20 mins of healthy cooking?
– Advertisements: they are all over the place, the flashing bill boards on the road side, the flyers and coupons in your mail with exciting food deals and not to forget the TV. Next time when you sit to watch your TV, try to count the number of advertisements that are promoting fast foods with a deal of free pop soda, burgers with extra meat, pizzas with extra cheese.. as if their regular meals were not doing enough harm. How could a person stay immune to these unhealthy advertisements that are right on his face throughout the day? But think about it- Who benefits out of these advertisements, you or these big food companies?
– Lack of commitment and strong will: I could say lack of knowledge about healthy and unhealthy food, but I would be wrong. People know what is good for them and what is bad? Don’t people know that white meats are better than red meat? Still they make their choice to eat a BIG MAC over a self prepared grilled chicken sandwich. So what is lacking…knowledge? No, it’s not the knowledge and information that is lacking… It’s the commitment to your health that is lacking. You are responsible for your health and not your doctor. He is there to just help you with your ailments and diseases.
When it comes to eating, most of the people give in to taste of the food . When I talk to people about healthy choices, I often hear a similar response “ ….but that burger tastes so good, it’s hard to resist” or they would say “ I don’t eat it everyday…just once in a while”. Unfortunately, their definition of ‘once in while’ may be 3-4 times a week.
I sometimes wonder how the definition of good food has changed over time. I am sure you must have heard this familiar expression “ Mmmm… so creamy, smooth and rich…it just melts…so GOOD”. My translation of this expression is “ Mmm.. so full of FAT…so bad for you”. It is strange how the term ‘fresh food’ has been replaced from our dictionary of daily diet with ‘processed food’.
When you are sitting down to eat remember- you are what you eat, so dosing yourself with huge quantities of unhealthy food ultimately determines what type of fat, proetin, carbohydrate is passing through your and into you cells for the rest of the day. Most people do not think of food as a medication, but in reality, it is the single biggest medication that we are exposed to–daily. In fact, the reason many of us are sick and remain sick is nutritional imbalance.
How many of you and the people around you complaint of low energy, fatigue, insomnia, mood problems, headaches, eczema, acne, allergies, digestion problems (bloating, burning) and so on..? far too many..right?
When I say nutritional imbalance, the problem may be at multiple levels:
– Too many of the wrong foods going in and not being processed and eliminated. Our bodies are physiologically created to digest and absorb foods in their natural form and not artificial and processed forms(ie. trans fats).
– Deficiency of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fibre and essential fatty acids.
– Harmful effects of many additives and preservatives eg. Aspartame (artificial sweetener sold as Equal or NutraSweet), nitrates and nitrites (preservatives in meat and fish), Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) etc.
In a nutshell, I would say: Your taste buds will love the heavenly taste and feel of the melting cheese, the creamy dips, the savoury steaks but remember the once you swallow that food, within minutes every cell of your body will have to deal with it.
Your body is your responsibility, take charge of your own health and make healthy choices.
Dr. Dhillon, ND