Can food really be medicine?

Most people are aware of the quote by Hippocrates — ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Wouldn’t it be great if just eating good food would prevent or cure all our illnesses!

There’s been a lot in the press here in Australia talking about the claims of “food as medicine”. If you are interested in healthy eating, I’ve included a link to some really informative articles with lots of great information.

Don’t judge an orange by it’s skin. This one’s skin was green but inside was delicious!

There is no doubt a bad diet can make us sick – weight gain, diabetes, coronary artery disease, increased risk of some cancers and the list goes on. A good diet doesn’t mean that you will never get sick however, it will reduce the risk of these lifestyle related diseases.

A healthy and varied diet is a cornerstone of sustaining well-being. Deficiencies in some essential nutrients can lead to some diseases including e.g. vitamin A (retinol) plays a role in our visual health and vitamin C helps to maintain connective tissue and immune health, deficiencies in these vitamins can lead to night-blindness ( vitamin A) and scurvy (vitamin C).

My father suffers from macular degeneration and has been advised by his doctors to include certain foods to help maintain his eye-health. See below for a link to the website and a healthy eye-health diet.

There are many other diseases that may benefit from the inclusion/exclusion of certain types of foods and these will be covered in future blog posts.

In addition to food there are, of course, a bunch of other factors that influence the state of our well-being and our overall physical and mental health.

In addition to a healthy well-balanced diet, these include:

  • Sleep – how well we sleep and how many hours per night. Sleep is restorative and its important to aim for 7-9 hours sleep every night. Good sleep helps to improve our mental and physical health. I find that if I take some magnesium citrate an hour or so before bed, it helps me relax and sleep better.
  • Exercise – helps us feel better and reduces our stress levels. Studies have shown that moderate exercise can reduce blood pressure.
  • Social connections – our connections with others, do we have a support network? Can we ask others for help? Blogging is a great way to connect with others across the world.
  • Stress – work, environmental, illness and life in general can affect our well-being. It’s important to look at stress reduction techniques like meditation, exercise and sleep. Avoid drinking too much alcohol and reduce cigarette smoking. Stress increases our blood pressure, anxiety and affects immune system function.
  • Our health and family history – what sort of diseases have we suffered from from childhood to now? Do we have genetic predisposition to certain types of disease? Our family history of certain diseases can affect our risk of similar diseases.
  • Environment – do we spend time in nature? Exposure to the real world helps to reduce stress levels and makes us feel happy. A regular walk in the park or garden, along the local beach – appreciate nature and it’s beauty. Access to clean air and quiet places from time-to-time is really beneficial to our well-being.

The difficulty some people face is that eating a good diet does take some planning. Not everyone has access to the full range of wholesome foods to get all the nutrients they need. Nutritional knowledge empowers us all to make the right choices when choosing our food.

A walk along the beach – breathe in the salty air, feel the sand under your feet.
These gorgeous birds are regular visitors to our back window-sill. Rainbow lorikeets – they love sunflower seeds. Our little touch of nature.

One thought on “Can food really be medicine?

  1. Pingback: The lowdown on functional foods | Keep Your Chin Up!

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