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"Eat Your Way to Wellness: Exploring Food as Medicine"

When it comes to human health, few elements are as fundamental and universally significant as food. From the macronutrients that fuel our bodies to the micronutrients that fortify our internal systems, what we eat plays a crucial role in shaping our health outcomes. 


Food's importance doesn’t stop at nutrition either. It holds cultural, social, and even psychological meaning to us. The adage "you are what you eat" resonates so much, because our dietary choices wield immense power in determining not only the quality of our biochemical makeup but our overall quality of life as well. 


This is incredible news when you consider our country is facing an epidemic of chronic lifestyle illnesses that the current healthcare system isn’t set up to handle. 

In this article, we are going to explore the relationship between food and health as we highlight the role our diet plays in shaping our well-being. We’ll look at our current healthcare system’s limitations and consider how we could take our wellbeing into our own hands by being intentional about what we eat. 


Food shapes our cells and our wellbeing


 Our dietary choices impact all aspects of our health, including our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. The foods we eat support our bodily functions, like energy production, brain health, immune function, and tissue repair. Food provides us with the energy we use throughout the day. It influences our body weight and composition. We are what we eat, literally. Whatever we consume that doesn't make it through the digestive system gets stored within our own cells. For example, fuel is stored in our fat cells along with any fat-soluble toxins within our system. Healthy food promotes a healthy digestive system, immune function, and more. 


The latest studies in gut health show that cultivating a healthy microbiome of gut bacteria in our digestive tract not only improves immune function, and relieves digestive discomfort, it can influence how we think, feel, and behave! Food contains the nutrients that play a key role in brain health and neurotransmitter function. Diets lacking in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids & B Vitamins can contribute to depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. Although food does impact our emotions on a molecular level, it also plays a much larger role in our emotional lives. Many of us eat our emotions. If you've ever downed your own pint of ice cream, you know what I’m talking about. We use food to comfort us when we are down, sooth us when we're upset, celebrate our achievements, and show others we care. Food can hold within it memories and tradition. 


Can diet treat disease?

 

Foods can do all that and they can help manage chronic lifestyle diseases. Eating good fats and high fiber can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure to reduce the risk of heart disease. Fiber, good fats, and protein help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity which prevents type 2 diabetes. Switching from a diet high in refined sugar and highly processed foods to a more whole and raw foods meal plan can reduce inflammation, improve gut health, and help you lose weight. Cruciferous vegetables are rich with compounds called glucosinolates that break down into chemicals with anti-cancer effects, like protecting our DNA from damage, inactivating carcinogens, inducing cell death. 

 

Many foods have been known for their medicinal properties for centuries like turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger for its nausea relief, and honey for its antimicrobial benefits. In the past few decades super foods have been making their way onto the nutrition scene. Toting powerful cancer fighting antioxidants and jam packed with essential nutrients. Probiotics, which I studied during my intern days at the USDA, have become wildly popular for supporting gut health, digestion, and immune function. 


How do we get started?


Until our healthcare system can evolve to meet our needs, it’s important we take the initiative to understand how our lifestyle choices impact our health. When we get intentional about what we put into our body, we are investing that time and money into a healthier future. 


If you think researching and buying high quality food is expensive and time consuming, whoo! You should see what it costs to live with a chronic lifestyle disease.  

So to get us started I’ve compiled a list of ways we can all get more intentional about the foods we eat. 


  1. Get scientific – your body is the best lab there is when it comes to determining what foods make you feel your best. Start testing!

  2. Do your research – find sources and people you can trust to take advise from. 

  3. Plan ahead – don’t wait until you’re starving to look for food. Find good sources of quality food, plan shopping trips, buy enough to last you, and prepare ingredients for quick and easy cooking.

  4. Acknowledge the spectrum – Can’t go completely organic, whole, raw all at once? That’s totally understandable! Start by moving from processed, factory farmed, chemically laden, genetically altered choices towards local organic farm raised sources at your own pace and as it becomes accessible to you. One item at a time.

  5. Cook at home – we have way more control over what goes in our food when we make it ourselves. Plus, we get to customize our meals just the way we like them. 

  6. Find substitutions – people have been getting so creative with these so it should be relatively easy to find and try some healthy substitutions for your favorite unhealthy foods. You may find a new favorite!

  7. Read labels – learn what to look for and make a point to really peruse one or two labels each shopping trip.

  8. Get a coach – want a direct route to a healthier lifestyle, someone to keep you motivated, and hold you accountable so you reach your goal? That’s what a coach does! 



By working on one or more of these suggestions we too can share in the medicinal benefits of a healthy diet and save all that money we would spend on future medical care on living a life we absolutely love.


"The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison." - Ann Wigmore 


Until next time, take care of yourself. 

Love,Jess 


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