Food Is Medicine: The Diet of Medicinal Foods, Science & History

Food is medicine - Dr. Axe
Hippocrates was to thank for the famous quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” — which we translated to “food is medicine” and use as our motto. Still to this day medical doctors and historians consider Hippocrates to be the founder of medicine as a “rational science.”

Considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of medicine and healing, Hippocrates was ahead of his time when, around the year 400 B.C, he advised people to prevent and treat diseases first and foremost by eating a nutrient-dense diet.

Why is a calorie not just a calorie when it comes to your health, and how come it matters so much which types of foods you get your calories from?Foods provide us with energy (calories), but they do much more than that.

The foods you include in your diet also play a critical role in controlling inflammation levels, balancing blood sugar, regulating cardiovascular health (including blood pressure and cholesterol levels), helping the digestive organs to process and eliminate waste, and much, much more. Did you know that certain anti-inflammatory foods even contain powerful active ingredients that help control how your genes are expressed?

Hippocrates and the Ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones onto something when they studied the many medicinal properties of foods. Many traditional systems of healing which have been practiced throughout history — including Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example — have taught for thousands of years that food is medicine and a healthy diet is a powerful tool for protecting one’s health.

Below you’ll learn which medicinal foods we now know make the biggest impact in someone’s health overall, which foods you should avoid most, and how to get started today eating a healing diet.


How Food Works Like Medicine

Perhaps more than anything else in our lives, the foods we regularly eat help determine whether or not we will become ill, or remain healthy into older age. Whether vegetables, fruit, meat, oils or grains, foods contain influential substances including antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, fiber and much more.

Nutrient deficiencies and toxicity from a poor diet are linked to nearly all modern health conditions. John Hopkins University reports that some 80 percent of cancer patients are believed to be malnourished, and that treatments used to battle cancer (like chemotherapy) only increase the body’s need for nutrients and very high-quality foods even more. (1) You probably already know that diabetes and heart disease (currently the No. 1 killer in the U.S. and most industrialized nations) are also illnesses that are highly influenced by one’s diet — and the same can be said for allergies, autoimmune disorders like arthritis, thyroid disorders and many more.

The expanding field of Nutrigenomics (also called Nutritional Genomics) is devoted to studying how food influences gene expressions and contributes to either health and longevity or to disease and earlier death. The principles behind nutrigenomics can be summarized in several key points: genes play a role in disease development and prevention; a poor diet can be a serious risk factor for many diseases; nutrient deficiencies and toxic chemicals in low-quality foods have an effect on human gene expressions; each person is different in terms of how much their genes/health are impacted by their diet; and a healthy but also personalized diet can be used to prevent, mitigate or cure chronic diseases. (2)

Some of the ways that medicinal foods specifically act like natural protectors against disease and help to slow the effects of aging, include:

  • Decreasing & Controlling Inflammation – Inflammation is the root of most diseases and a major contributor to the effects of aging. Inflammation is a response from the immune system when the body perceives it’s being threatened, and it can affect nearly every tissue, hormone and cell in the body. Research also shows that “obesity has a strong inflammatory component,” a problem that now affects nearly two-thirds of all adults in the U.S. (3)
  • Balancing Hormones − Hormones affect every part of health, from your energy and cognitive abilities to your body weight and sex drive. Abnormal hormonal changes contribute to accelerated aging, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, depression, low mental capacity, reproductive problems and an array of autoimmune diseases. (4)
  • Alkalizing the Body – The human body keeps a tight grip on its internal pH level, working hard to keep it around a pH of 7.36. Studies show that when it comes to the pH and net acid load in the human diet, “there has been considerable change from the hunter-gather civilization to the present.” (5) Processed, low-quality foods make the body more acidic and allow diseases to thrive more easily. An alkaline diet (high in plant foods that are detoxifying) helps with cellular renewal and might promote longevity.
  • Balancing Blood Glucose (Sugar) – Diabetes and weight gain are tied to poor insulin response and other hormonal changes. Poorly managed blood sugar levels due to consuming high amounts of sugar and processed carbohydrates can lead to cravings, fatigue, neurological damage, mood disorders, hormonal balances and more. To sustain normal blood sugar, experts recommend that low-glycemic and non-processed carbohydrates take the place of refined, empty calories and added sugar. (6)
  • Detoxifying & Eliminating Toxins – Toxicity is tied to poor digestive health, hormonal changes and decreasing liver functioning. In modern society, we are bombarded by chemicals from our diet and environment that contribute to inflammation, autoimmune diseases, infertility, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, and so on.
  • Improving Absorption of Nutrients – Many of today’s illnesses are due to nutritional deficiencies and high rates of free radical damage. The majority of processed convenience foods are stripped of their natural nutrients or at least partly manmade, packed with synthetic ingredients and preservatives but very low in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes.

 

Food is medicine guide - Dr. Axe

 


7 of the Best Medicinal Foods

Businesswoman grows vegetables in shipping containers in Nigerian capital

ANA / Maxwell Hall of the World Economic Forum interviews Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja, founder and CEO of Fresh Direct Produce and Agro-Allied Services at WEF Africa 2017 in Durban. Meet The New Way To Farm! This young Nigerian, a winner of the World Economic Forum’s Top Women Innovators Award, has turned adversity and a modern city’s…

These Non-Marijuana Plants Contain Cannabinoids!

 

 Marijuana gets all the praise when it comes to useful plants. And while it contributes to everything from pain relief to building material, did you know that there are other plants that contain cannabinoids that are also extremely useful?

These plants are not psychoactive; they don’t contain the ingredient THC. Rather, they contain cannabinoids known as endocannabinoids due to their positive interaction with the endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for maintaining internal balance (homeostasis).

 

 In other words, these plants won’t get you high but they do pack a punch in anxiety relief and painkilling.

 

1. Coneflower (Echinacea)

Coneflower

According to WebMD, echinacea can do a little bit of everything, from fighting cold symptoms to reducing anxiety, arthritis and fatigue.

The plant works by interacting with the CB2 receptor that regulates your immune system, pain and inflammatory response.

 

 2. Electric Daisy (Acmella Oleracea)

Acmella_oleracea_003

The electric daisy is also known as ‘the toothache plant,’ which should give you an idea of what it’s good for. The Amazon native plant can be turned into an effective painkiller.

 3. Helichrysum Umbraculigerum

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

This plant, which is technically a daisy, is native to South Africa. It contains a large amount of cannabigerol, which gives it antidepressant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Perfectly Fluffy Vegan Biscuits

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Perfectly Fluffy Vegan Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance (vegan margarine), cut into  medium sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 400. In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder.

2. With your fingers or a pastry cutter cut in the Earth Balance pieces until they are the size of peas.

3. Take 1 tablespoon of milk out of the 3/4 cup and set it aside. Pour the rest of the milk over the flour and stir gently with a spatula until it comes together.

Peppermint Fudge No Bake Energy Bites

Peppermint Fudge No Bake Energy Bites Recipe - healthy festive bites of chocolate fun!/ Running in a Skirt
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins
 Serves: 9 bites
Ingredients
  • ½ cup cup raw almonds
  • ⅓ cup pitted medjool dates (about 6)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon mini dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup crushed peppermint

Butternut-Cauliflower-Coconut Curry

Butternut-Cauliflower Coconut Curry

A range of textures—crunchy peas, tender vegetables, and silky coconut broth—makes this cool-weather main incredibly satisfying. The chickpea mixture can also be a delicious gluten-free snack: After baking, toss with a little kosher salt, ground cumin, and ground red pepper. Store in an airtight container for three days. To speed up prep, look for pre-cut cauliflower florets in your grocery store’s produce section. Even if you have to prep the cauliflower and cut your own florets, you will only add about five minutes to a 40-minute meatless main.

Coconut Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro and Lime

Fat florets of cauliflower stay meaty when roasted—you could even try this with orange or yellow cauliflower. If you happen to have pickled chiles, use them in place of the fresh chiles here.

Coconut Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro and Lime

    • 1 head cauliflower, leaves discarded, bottom trimmed
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, warmed just until liquid
    • Jacobsen flake finishing sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
    • ½ red finger chile, sliced
    • ½ lime
    • Cilantro sprigs

How To Make Broccoli Actually Taste Good

Broccoli is detested by so many people, and that sentiment is wholly undeserved. This green veggie is versatile and delicious, plus it pairs beautifully with butter and cheese(which is always a bonus, in our book).

The reason broccoli gets such a bad rap is because too many people cook it beyond recognition. It’s not the broccoli’s fault ― this nutritious vegetable deserves better.

If you’re a broccoli hater, we have a guide for you. A number of do’s and don’ts that’ll ensure you eat the best broccoli of your life ― and forget all about the bad broccoli of your youth. If you’re already a broccoli fan, you might find a new cooking method below.

Let’s get you learning how to love broccoli.

Roasted broccoli, the best vegetable dish in the world.

 

1. For the best broccoli of your life, roast it. Roasting makes broccoli taste like the best stuff on the planet. It caramelizes the broccoli, releasing the natural sugar in the vegetable. It is unlike anything you’ve ever had before.

No-Cook Overnight Oatmeal

TheChic_overnight-oatmeal

Cold oatmeal for breakfast?  It may not sound appetizing, but don’t judge it before you try it!

Cold oats or grains are nothing new or unusual.  Muesli is a traditional Swiss dish that consists of uncooked oats, fruits, nuts and milk.  Instead of cooking the oats, it is soaked in the milk until it has softened.

This cold bowl of oatmeal is a refreshing and surprising breakfast.   It’s nothing like cooked oatmeal that is gluey and super thick when cooled.

I prefer this chilled oatmeal because it is ready when I wake up in the morning.  There is no need to heat it up, however you can warm it up in the microwave if you’d like.  We’ve all heard that oatmeal is good for you.  It’s full of fiber, lowers your cholesterol, and keep your full all morning.