Food as medicine is at the heart of natural health. Most, if not all, modern diseases are caused by years of wrong eating. Pretty much all of them can be cured by right eating.
While good, natural food will lead you back to full health, there are times when a specific food acts as medicine to help heal or cure.
For animals, using food as medicine is as natural as breathing. Long
before the earliest doctor, tribal medicine man or village wise woman,
animals have sought out
They know by instinct which plants will help them. We humans have moved so far from nature that we no longer have that sort of instinct – though the healing plants are still there, waiting to be used.
The idea of food as medicine goes back at least to the earliest known doctors. More than two thousand years ago Hippocrates said ‘Let medicine be your food and food be your medicine.’ He believed that illness stemmed from bad eating habits and poor nutrition, and that learning good eating habits would restore good health.
This is what modern naturopaths and nutritionists also believe - ‘You are what you eat’ has become a catch phrase. Every one knows that some foods are ‘good for you’ and others are ‘bad for you’, but most don’t realize the full extent of this. I can’t overstate the importance of good nutrition for good health.
If you want to be healthy, you have to give your body the right fuel. You know that putting petrol in a diesel car is going to ruin the engine. You wouldn’t expect a lion to thrive on hay, or feed meat to a cow. (Well, that last one was tried – the result was BSE - ‘mad cow disease’.)
Every meal you eat influences your health one way or another. The more of your meals which are ‘good for you’ the healthier you’ll be.
Eating healthy food increases your energy, improves the way your body functions, strengthens your immune system and goes a long way to avoiding weight gain.
Most chronic illnesses are caused by years of wrong eating and nearly all can be cured by right eating – if you really stick to it.
There are special diets to help with specific conditions. Here are three examples of using food as medicine -
Lots of foods have specific healing properties. This ranges from the traditional – garlic or onions for colds, for instance – to the modern discoveries, such as lycopene from tomatoes being helpful in some cases of cancer (particularly prostate cancer). The Chinese have several plants that are used as both medicine and food.
Shiitake mushrooms are an example - they boost your immune system, increasing your resistance to infection.
Herbalists use many plants in
but a lot of medicinal plants can also be used as food. Most of the
culinary herbs and spices are good for your digestion as well as tasting
nice. Some, such as turmeric, are among the strongest anti-oxidants. Many are powerful against germs of all sorts.
Sometimes it’s what you eat; sometimes it’s what you don’t eat that matters.
The most fundamental and powerful way that you can use food as medicine is not eating it at all!
Fasting is the quickest way to get well in many cases. All animals instinctively stop eating when they are ill. Not eating leaves your body free to give all it’s energy to healing itself. If you have a cold or flu don’t listen to well-meaning people who tell you ‘you must eat to keep up your strength’ – there’s a good reason why you don’t feel like eating when you’re ill. Just drink plenty of fluids – you’ll soon be well again. Often you can avoid getting ill altogether - if you feel the beginnings of a cold, eat more lightly for a few days. Specially avoid foods high in protein or fat as these are hardest to digest.
People have cured themselves of all sorts of very serious
illnesses by fasting for longer periods on a limited range of foods. For
instance, just one type of fruit, or only vegetable juices. Grapes are
wonderfully healing – they contain all the minerals we need, in just the
right proportions. People can live on nothing but grapes for many
weeks, giving their bodies time to heal whatever’s wrong. (Note - you must eat the whole grape, complete with skins and the pips.)
If you want to do a fast of more than a few days, it’s best to see an experienced naturopath or herbalist. She or he will help you decide on the best cure for you.
Also remember that a raw food diet is known to bring rapid relief from many long term conditions. Even diseases that are usually considered permanent have been completely cured by just a few days or weeks on a diet of 100% raw, 100% plant-based food. Natural Health clinics around the world achieve results like this regularly.
Food as medicine takes on a special meaning when it comes to food allergies and sensitivities. ‘One man’s food is another man’s poison’ quite literally, when someone is seriously allergic to an everyday food. Then any contact at all with that food must be avoided.
Food sensitivities are not as immediately life threatening as allergies, but they threaten quality of life for many people. Gluten intolerance and dairy intolerance are the most common, and affect many more people than just those who’ve been officially diagnosed.
These cause lots of unpleasant symptoms, which are quickly relieved by a diet of dairy-free or gluten free recipes.
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