Food Can Be Medicine

Some of today's top health epidemics are obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even allergies.

These specific diseases have been prevalent in my own family for decades. From a young age I’ve seen the terrible effects they inflict. 

Up until a few years ago I believed that the medications prescribed by the doctor were the “cure all.” I didn’t make the connection that the foods we eat impact how our bodies respond to diseases.

But after working with a functional medicine doctor and attending nutritional school, I now believe that food can be medicine.

What do people eat today?

These days the most popular foods are ones that are quick and convenient. People prefer quick and cheap meals like fast food. Or even foods from a can or box - like Lean Cuisines, Lunchables and soda . These kinds are foods are what I consider to be “processed foods.” They likely are engineered in a lab and produced in a manufacturing plant. They're made with ingredients that I’ve never heard of and can't pronounce!

I don’t know about you, but these aren’t the kinds of foods I want in my body. I'm convinced that healing is unlikely when we combine processed foods with medication. 

What to eat instead?

We have all heard that the best healthy foods to eat are whole grains, veggies, fruits and lean proteins.

But I believe that the most healthy foods we can consume are ones that are "unprocessed." 

So what are "unprocessed" foods? To me, they are whole grains, veggies, fruits, and lean proteins that are whole. They are foods that we can be grow, prepare and cook in our own homes and not in a manufacturing plant!

A Personal Case Study

Like most teenagers I had acne, but my acne was worse than most. So my mom (bless her heart) took me to a dermatologist for treatment.

I was a sophomore in high school so likely about 15 years old (a long time ago!) and had a terrible diet. I ate school snacks and lunches (hello processed foods!). Then after school I came home and ate candy, chips and drank soda - every day!

During one of my visits I remember my mother asking the doctor if I needed to change my diet. I remember him respond by saying that “food has nothing to do with complexion.” Then he prescribed antibiotics and Tetracycline. I took those meds for the rest of my teenage years and well into adulthood.

And why did I continue the medications into adulthood? Because my acne continued! 

I learned how to hide my acne under layers and layers of makeup. But it wasn’t until I made significant diet changes that my acne finally went away. When I adopted a gluten-free diet and stopped eating processed foods my complexion changed! I no longer had acne, nor greasy and oily skin!

Through research and my studies I now understand that what we eat does in fact affect our complexion! In hindsight I believe that I would have healed from acne years ago if I had changed my diet back then. I could have avoided taking medication over a prolonged period of time which I believe played a role in my IBS. Sigh, but that’s a story for another day. 

So, in summary - 

Foods that are "unprocessed" can be medicine. They can provide our bodies with the nutrients it needs to heal itself.

If you are feeling ill, take a minute to think about what and how you are eating. Instead of reaching for that bottle of Advil, are there other any quick changes that you can make? Maybe skip that can of Diet Coke and drink some water or herbal tea instead? 

If you are taking medications prescribed by a doctor, what are you eating with it? Instead of McDonalds or Taco Bell, how about a quick and easy salad, or chicken stir fry instead? I get that quick and convenient is good, but healthy and unprocessed is even better!

But also remember to practice bioindividuality. Be in tune with, and do what works best for you body.

In next week’s post I’ll share some tips on making better dietary choices and how to stick with it!