Using Food as Medicine

foodasmedicine

By Nancy Smorch

I saw my chiropractor/kinesiologist yesterday. I was feeling a little “off” (a lot “off” if you ask my family). 

I shouldn’t have waited so long to go see her! I am already feeling so much better. 

During my appointment, my chiropractor and I fell into the discussion of nutrition and medicine. I told her how I recently learned that most medical degrees don’t have any requirements regarding nutrition courses.

Doesn’t that just blow your mind? Isn’t nutrition an integral part of the human body and our overall health?

Think about all of the chemical and electrical processes that are constantly occurring in your body. They rely on a delicate balance of nutrients and chemical signals, both inside and outside of all of the cells.  What is a major source of these nutrients and signals?  Yes, food!

Shouldn’t nutrition be a required minor or, at least, shouldn’t medical students be required to take a series of nutrition courses?

But they are not. Thankfully chiropractors, I was told, are required to take nutrition classes. My chiropractor took 3 courses in her program, and there were numerous other nutrition courses or workshops available outside of her required credits.

The concept of food as medicine has been increasingly in the media the past few years, and the benefits of returning to a natural diet is no longer considered "hippie logic." I certainly hope that this recognition will soon reflect in colleges and in course work... where future doctors, chiropractors, nutritionists, etc., study how the body works and what we need to keep us feeling our best.

Personally, I am of the thought that using food to keep in good health is just common sense. Nature packed just the right amount of each nutrient into the appropriate food, so that we would have all that we need.

Unfortunately we’ve gotten so far away from eating from nature that our diets are lacking in many valuable nutrients. Food was originally designed to have just the right amount and kinds of nutrients - nutrients that complement each other, and make each more easily absorbed into our systems.

GMO's, processed, chemically or hormonally treated foods are altered to just grow faster and larger, to the detriment of their nutritional content - not to mention the depletion of nutrients in our soil due to pesticide use and lack of crop rotation and failing to put nutrients back into the soil.

We’ve had to adapt by taking supplements which, although often helpful, isn’t quite the same as getting the nutrients directly from the food.

I think too often humans try to be autonomous from the earth. We have pride in being reliant on ourselves. We do research and find, for example, that a particular food helps lower cholesterol… so we do more research, and isolate which particular element we think is actually doing the lowering. We separate it from the food as a whole, and instead we pop it as a pill.

But, what we don’t realize is that the food as a whole is working together as a unit. Everything in food is complementing the whole to work as “medicine.” In removing a portion, you more often than not destroy the entire system, and lose the benefits.

You can kind of liken it to a recipe... let’s say the delicious smoothie recipe I posted Monday!

The cinnamon in the recipe added a great flavor, but without all of the other ingredients, it wouldn’t quite taste the same, would it?

It’s not just the cinnamon, it’s all of the ingredients working together and playing off one another that gives it that awesome flavor. Maybe not the best example, but I’m sure you see my point!

If you take away one part of nutrition, the whole suffers.

I’m not recommending that you don’t see your physician and seek medical advice by suggesting you use food as medicine.

What I am suggesting is that you don’t ignore the foods that you are eating and how they make you feel. Do your research. Try to eat foods that aren’t processed, are organic, and a wide enough range of type that you get a variety of nutrients.

Notice how you feel whenever you make any dietary changes. Notice if you have more or less energy, if your stomach is irritated or not, if you’re bloated, if you sleep well, if your mood is better.

Food can affect all of these and more so tune in to your body and listen to what it is telling you!

I learned this first hand when my chiropractor found I was gluten sensitive.  I was feeling really tired all of the time, bloated, was having a hard time focusing, and hadn't had my period in about 3 months.  I removed gluten from my  diet and within a couple of days I felt better.  My bloating went down, I could focus more easily, I didn't feel like taking a nap every time I sat down, and I started my period!  I was amazed at how much of an effect gluten had on my system.  Then the process of healing my intestinal tract, which had basically become inflamed, began.

If you pay attention and give the body what it needs, you will also find that your system is working more effectively, comfortably, and happily... which more than likely will translate into less visits to the doctor, less medication, and a much higher quality of life.