7 ways food can be used as medicine

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Invest in quality foods to reduce your medical bills

Modern lifestyle has increased the incidence of disease and death. We are far more stressed than our parents. What will you do if you fall ill? You will knock on the door of your physician, who will prescribe you medication accordingly. It is the most usual course of action taken by most of us. Taking unpleasant pills may not be a fantastic experience for you. Are you frustrated taking all these medicines, accompanied by rising medical expenses? This article introduces you to alternatives to chemical drugs. Namely, food as medicine.

Food as medicine

Other names for this concept include Culinary medicine, lifestyle medicine and ethnomedicine.

Can you believe that your kitchen can be more valuable for your health than a pharmacy? Theory suggests that disease is in some way or another related to the food you put in your stomach. Therefore, it is suggested that you can manipulate your diet to help prevent or even to cure your ailments. This idea of "food as medicine" dates back to Hippocrates about 2500 years ago. This Greek physician was so convinced of the medicinal value of food that he asked his people to try and heal themselves by adjusting their diets.

Food poisoning and food safety

Have you had any experience with food poisoning? Contaminated food and the use of raw meat and raw or undercooked eggs have increased the occurrence of food poisoning in individuals. It is caused by germs contaminating your food. The diarrhoea and vomiting which follow after ingestion are the most obvious clinical manifestations. But how do you prevent food poisoning? For prevention, you must consider how are you preparing food.

In the 20th century, the nutritional trends shifted towards using processed, high energy and high-fat foods. At the same time, synthetic drugs started to be routinely used to cure diseases. Many companies worldwide were then and continue to market ready-made meals. This use of synthetic medications, moving away from natural remedies and popularised easy meals have increased the incidence of such diseases.

Are you eating contaminated food?

Despite strict enforcement of food safety measures, unpasteurized milk, undercooked ground beef, and a wide variety of raw foods spoil our food chains. Despite investing heavily in food and health, Food Standards Agency (FSA) has estimated that about 2.4 million cases related to foodborne diseases are reported every year in the UK. You could be one of these unlucky patients at some time in your life.

Some other diseases, e.g., diabetes, toxicities, deficiency diseases and food allergies, are directly related to food. At the same time, you can also benefit from the various nutrients your food has to offer you.

Why should food be used as medicine?

You might wonder why you should use food as medicine. The following points will help you understand why investing in your diet is essential.

  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the most critical health issue in industrialised countries is obesity, which is preventable. Its incidence is also significant. According to NHS, about 10,780 hospital cases were registered in the UK in 2019/20 with a primary complaint of obesity.
  • Due to obesity, metabolic and infectious diseases, e.g., diabetes, heart attack, cancer, and inflammation, have significantly increased. Wouldn't it be wise if you could prevent these diseases rather than spending your earnings on medical bills?
  • The pharmaceutical industry is pulling trillions of dollars annually from your pockets to provide you with the medicine needed for these preventable diseases. By 2020, the UK's annual medical expenditure had reached a staggering 269.5 billion British pounds, which is not less than 8% of its GDP.
  • Moreover, the average income spent on food has moderately increased (1.2 per cent increase from 2018-19 to 2019-20). You can compensate for this rising expense on food by decreasing your medical bills and investing in the right foods.
  • Anxiety and depression are among the critical problems of modern life. Although no food is prescribed by the physician to treat depression and anxiety, the research on some foods has highlighted their use as a stress-relieving medicine.

Here are some of the ways your food can help you avoid food poisoning and other food-related problems.

Consider your digestive system while choosing and preparing food

You may be spending a lot of money on food but still feeling no benefit. Why?

This is because you have chosen the wrong food which doesn't suit your stomach. You have to understand the basic chemistry and biology of your digestive system. With experience, you can decide which food works for you.

Increase the proportion of medicinal foods in your daily diet

Reducing inflammation is the cornerstone of good health. If you can use your food to reduce inflammation, you are likely to have a healthy life. So, your diet should be optimised to incorporate more and more of nature's healing gifts in it. The list could be infinite, but the medical and Ayurvedic community believes that the following raw foods have medicinal value.

Honey

It is a brilliant alternative to refined sugars and is used for its energy-boosting and immunity-boosting properties. It can heal your wounds and soothe your burns. It should be used in its raw form as cooking could diminish its medicinal value and could be used with a variety of other foods.

Legumes

These are highly nutritious, versatile, and a good treasure of antioxidants. You can add spices to make them tastier. Different delicious recipes are available and you can choose any of these recipes according to your likeness.

Turmeric

Have you noticed an orange-brown powder in your kitchen? Its anti-inflammatory properties are well understood. Its wound healing, antioxidant, anti-free-radical, anticancer, anti-nephrotoxic and anti-platelet activities are well documented. Just add a few grams of turmeric to unlock its full benefits.

Nuts and seeds

They are also a treasure of antioxidants which can benefit your cardiovascular system. You can improve their digestibility by overnight soaking.

Oils

Oils are used for cooking raw food. Besides being a good source of energy, they lubricate your digestive tract and reduce the chance of constipation. However, try to use plant-based oils, e.g., olive oil, because they are heart-friendly and have low bad cholesterol.

Ginger

Ginger can help your digestive system and also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used in its fresh, dried or powder form with other foods. It has been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to treat food poisoning, motion sickness, inflammation, cold, menstrual cramps, epilepsy etc... Adding it to perishable foods can enhance their shelf life.

Ghee

It is produced from the milk of animals. It is a rich source of fatty acids and can benefit your digestive health. Try it in your food.

The objective of these foods is to improve digestion and reduce inflammation. Once you can achieve these, quality life lies ahead.

Be yourself

One thing about human biology is that it is unique to everyone. Food which benefits others doesn't necessarily mean that it will help you. So, the key to a successful outcome of eating medicinal food lies in understanding what your body needs and what satisfies it most.

How will you know you have achieved this balanced baseline? You'll feel more energy, creativity, more interest in life and better digestion.

One thing to remember is that this balance is dynamic. So, try to figure out each food under the light of your inner balance.

Your selection of food matters a lot

The nature of the food we are eating has undergone a complete shift. In antiquity, our ancestors relied on fresh produce from their farms, or they used to eat the meat of fresh kill. There was no concept of shipping and preserving food. This food can retain most of its natural fats, vitamins, fibre, and minerals.

Unfortunately, most regularly food is processed on factory farms. Therefore, it would be wise to shift to food closer to the natural environment, e.g., free range. It will turn out to be the medicine for healthy living.

Are you familiar with the idea of kitchen gardening? You can use a small lawn in the back of your home to produce natural vegetables and fruits, bringing you closer to nature and benefiting you with its nutrients.

Generally speaking, you should not use processed foods with added salts, fats and sugars. Be courageous and innovative in your choice of food. Use whole grains and whole wheat flour instead of refined grains and white flour.

Try to use fresh vegetables from your grocery store

Biology thrives in diversity. A person eating various fruits and vegetables is less likely to have deficiencies. Try to use freshly produced plants with a minor level of processing. It will preserve most of its nutritional/medicinal value.

Have you closely observed the wrapper of your processed food? A lengthy list of ingredients on the wrapper is not a good sign. It shows an increased level of processing. Try to use foods with minimal ingredients. Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables and visit local agricultural farms to get fresh and natural produce.

Develop healthy eating habits

Come to your meal with a fresh state of mind. The environment of your dining hall, lighting etc..., also matters a lot. Try to dine with your family. It will add value to your food as you feel more relaxed and focused.

Food is not just fuel; it is an opportunity to connect to your family and friends.

Chose medicinal foods for your heart

Several studies have highlighted that low energy, less processed and plant-based diet is associated with a decreased risk of diseases. For example, the Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, grains and healthy fat. Consequently, it is well known to reduce the risk of disease. A 2005 study in Greece showed that using the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 27% decrease in mortality in coronary heart disease patients.

Try to look for the tags, e.g., whole food-based, plant-based, low carb etc... Studies show that such diets have documented health benefits. Such foods are also associated with an improved quality of life and reduced depression.

 

Bottom line

Although it may not be a complete substitute for medicine, your food has an enormous medicinal contribution to your overall health. After all, most of the medicines prepared before the industrial era were obtained from plants and animals (elements of our food). It would be a wise option to add foods to your diet with medicinal properties. Your food will become an excellent preventative method for illness, and your medical bills may even be cut short. Eat healthy for a healthy life.

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