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

Continue reading “Food Is Medicine: The Diet of Medicinal Foods, Science & History”

Herbed Hummus

This year, revamp party food with recipes that make it easy to have the gang over and keep your resolutions intact. Jazz up purchased hummus with a combination of fresh herbs that add bright flavor to this green dip.Recipe: Herbed Hummus

This year, revamp party food with recipes that make it easy to have the gang over and keep your resolutions intact. Jazz up purchased hummus with a combination of fresh herbs that add bright flavor to this green dip.

LEVEL: EASY
SERVES: 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 oz. store-bought plain hummus
  • 1 c. roughly chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, cilantro, and dill

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, combine hummus and herbs; process until herbs are finely chopped, about 1 minute.

Healthy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

These pumpkin cheesecake bars are gluten free and so creamy, that you’d never know they’re secretly healthy, naturally sweetened and only 150 calories!

Ingredients

For the crust

    • Tbsp Pure maple syrup
    • Tbsp Molasses
    • 1/3 Cup Coconut oil, at room temperature (it should be the consistency of softened butter)
    • 3/4 Cup Coconut flour, sifted (66g)
    • 1/4 tsp Ginger powder
    • Pinch of salt

Continue reading “Healthy Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars”

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. Continue reading “Butternut-Cauliflower-Coconut Curry”

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

Continue reading “Coconut Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro and Lime”

How to Juice a Watermelon

Juicing a watermelon is work. There’s a lot of tough rind to cut through, and if you’ve got a good watermelon on your hands, a lot of drippy, juicy mess that happens as you’re cutting.

Turns out, there is a better, easier, less messy way, and Alton Brown has shared it with us.

This is what you’re going to need: the watermelon (of course), a three-inch biscuit cutter, a knife and an immersion blender. The biscuit cutter is a great tool that’ll help you cut a hole in the top of the watermelon. That hole is needed to fit in the blade of the immersion blender. And the immersion blender is responsible for juicing up the watermelon in a matter of seconds. It’s a beautiful sight. Continue reading “How to Juice a Watermelon”

Vegan Veggie Love Muffins

Tired of eating vegetables the ordinary way? Switch it up with these vegan veggie muffins. You can make this recipe all your own by using other natural sweet produce of your choosing. Let’s get creative!

Call us today for more inspiration on how you can live a healthier lifestyle. Natural Healing Care Center – 520-323-0069 Continue reading “Vegan Veggie Love Muffins”

Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Shallot Dressing Recipe

Oprah knows best! For more healthy recipes and wellness tips call Natural Healing Care Center today to set up a time to speak to one of our nutritionists – 520-323-0069

“This quinoa salad is delicious with Marcona almonds, but I sometimes substitute toasted pine nuts, because everything tastes better with toasted pine nuts!” —Oprah Winfrey

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, preferably multicolored, rinsed and drained (if necessary)
  • ¼ cup minced shallots (from 1 to 2 large shallots)
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Finely grated zest and 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • Ƅ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large orange
  • 4 hearts of palm (from one 14-ounce can), drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced into half moons
  • ½ cup Marcona almonds or toasted pine nuts

    Directions

    Active time: 30 minutes
    Total time: 1 hour

    In a medium pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add quinoa, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 5 minutes more. Uncover, fluff with a fork and spread out on a baking sheet or large platter to let cool.

    Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together shallots, vinegar, mustard, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt black pepper and cayenne. Whisk in oil.

    Zest orange into a large bowl. Using a paring knife, cut and discard peel and pith from orange. Cut between membranes to release segments; roughly chop and add to bowl with zest. Add cooled quinoa, hearts of palm, mango, cucumber and almonds. Toss gently to combine. Drizzle vinaigrette on top and toss again to coat. Serve immediately

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/quinoa-salad-with-lemon-shallot-dressing-recipe#ixzz4dmnxJfyG

 

Roasted Asparagus

Serves 4

Invite spring to your table with this simple side dish. The recipe easily doubles for company; just make sure the asparagus spears are not crowded on the baking sheet.

Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme and mint
  • pinch fine sea salt

Continue reading “Roasted Asparagus”