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Food as Medicine

Food as Medicine

Hippocrates said “Let food be they medicine, and medicine be thy food.”  At the doctor’s office for my annual checkup I was asked to list any herbs I take and I thought “this should be interesting.”  Sure, I take herbal supplements but what about all the fresh or dried herbs I cook with or drink as tea?  What about Mediterranean herbs in spaghetti, garlic in hummus, basil in pesto, chamomile or mint tea?  What about carrots, sweet potatoes and squash in navy bean soup to boost our immune system and fight off colds?  I asked the doctor if I should list basil in pesto and was told “No, that’s food!” (along with a look that said I must be an idiot).  Well isn’t that the point, that our food is our medicine!

I was watching T.V. and listening to the warnings of side effects from the medicine being advertised, and wondered why people consider the risk worth taking the medicine!  Many food and drugs sold seem to cause health problems.  There’s a phenomenon called ‘prescription cascade’ where one prescription causes side effects that require another prescription, which causes side effects that require another prescription, which causes side effects…. and well, you get the idea.  Nice profit for drug companies and doctors who control the prescriptions.

Our industrial agriculture and food manufacturing practices are making food  with lower nutritional value.  Fresh minimally processed ‘whole’ food contains nutrients important for our health such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamin B-complex, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and vitamin K, antioxidants, soluble and insoluble fiber.  Processed food has nutritional supplements added back in along with preservatives and artificial color and flavors, and many other food additives.   We no longer think of food as medicine, or expect it to be medicine.  We are more often concerned about the negative aspects, avoiding the unhealthy foods we shouldn’t eat.  Plants have provided our medicine for most of human history.

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