Food is medicine.
The famous Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” This statement has become the motto over the last decade for eating whole, nutrient-dense foods. The less processed, the greater the nutritional value, which equates to a greater ability for the body to process and utilize the food for macro- and micronutrient purposes.
This slogan isn’t merely food rhetoric to support farmers or to shop locally. Food as medicine has been proven time and again to aid in healing the body from numerous disease states and to keep the body healthy for a longer life.
What are the top five foods for healing the body and what do they heal?
1. Fruits and Vegetables to Fight Inflammation
The body creates inflammation from an activation of white blood cells and the things that protect the body from disease or illness. When the body creates inflammation without the presence of sickness, like in autoimmune diseases, the body starts attacking healthy tissue. To help the body fight that inflammation, fruits and vegetables with deep color are the most healing. Kale, spinach and broccoli are some vegetable examples, while raspberries, cherries and blackberries are some fruit options.
2. Fatty Fish to Fight Heart Disease
Heart disease is currently the number one cause of death in America, with the most common being coronary artery disease — the leading cause of heart attacks. Eating fatty fish three times per week over the course of eight weeks has shown to reduce cholesterol levels, triglycerides in the blood, systemic and diabolic blood pressure. Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines are all great fatty fish options.
3. Coffee to Fight Liver Disease
Liver disease is any disruption in the function of the liver that causes illness. The liver is responsible for vitamin and mineral storage, metabolizing food into nutrients, fighting infection, regulating blood clotting, protein production and bile production to help digest fat and absorb vitamins. Disruption of these functions can cause serious damage to the body. Coffee promotes liver health by preventing the buildup of fat and collagen, two markers of liver disease. It also helps reduce inflammation and increase the antioxidant glutathione.
4. Whole Grains to Fight Leaky Gut
Leaky gut syndrome is an unhealthy gut lining that has cracks or holes that allow particles of food, bacteria, toxins and bugs to penetrate the tissue around it. The increased permeation in the intestines is responsible for Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome. It has also been shown to be associated with autoimmune diseases (lupus and Type I diabetes), fatigue, fibromyalgia, obesity, acne and even mental illness. Whole grains have indigestible carbs that do not absorb in the small intestine so it can move into the large intestine. The large intestine breaks down the fiber with microbiota, promoting the growth of healthy bacteria.
5. Nuts and Seeds to Fight Memory Loss
Memory loss can stem from diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, to stroke, sleep deprivation, stress and depression. Memory loss can interfere with normal daily functioning and the ability to retrieve known information. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews are full of vitamins like B6, which helps metabolize protein to repair brain cells. Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and soya beans are full of rich omega-3 fatty acids that support brain function and health.
Food is medicine.
This is known because every food listed heals each of the disease states listed. Nuts and seeds play a role in inflammation reduction, heart health, liver cleansing, healing the gut as well as brain function. These whole foods are full of vitamins and minerals that promote healthy tissue and serve to repair when illness is present. Eating more whole grains, leafy greens, bright, fleshy fruits and fatty fishes weekly can create an environment for cellular reproduction and restore balance to the body.
Hippocrates was right. Whole, unprocessed foods can both prevent and heal disease states in the body. Food is medicine. Medicine is food.
About the Author
Coach Kati Epps is the founder of MyBody GX with a background in chemistry from Colorado State University, an ACE certified personal trainer, health coach and nutrition specialist.