Thursday, July 12, 2012

"Let Your Food Be Your Medicine"

"Let Your Food Be Your Medicine"

Hippocrates (460BC – 370BC), widely considered the “Father of Medicine,” said “Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.”

Over 2000 years later, this is still the single best prescription for optimum health. Our abject rejection of, and failure to heed, this advice is the single largest cause and unifying explanation of the lifestyle diseases that plague Western cultures. These Western diseaseses including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancers, strokes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease are responsible for most deaths. They have become invisible diseases to the extent that we consider them part of normal aging. They are not.

As recently as 1900 cancer and heart disease combined accounted for only 13% of all deaths. By 2005, cancer and heart disease accounted for 50% of all US deaths. This meteoric rise occurred at the same time the intervening decades heralded significant advances in medical care and the explosion of pharmaceutical drug use.

The most dramatic change in the past 60 years that negatively impacted American health was the epic shift in the American diet and nutrition, compounded by an equal shift to a sedentary lifestyle.
Over the past 60 years the concept of “better living through chemistry” has dominated American life. Big Agra, chemical pesticide and processed food corporations, the restaurant and fast food industries, Big Pharma, and the medical care industry, as aided and abetted by the US government, have all redefined what and how we eat.

How and why this perversion of food occurred is expertly detailed in Marion Nestle’s: Food Politics. In short, it was the result of economic driving forces and special interests pressure on a government focused on driving down the cost of food; combined with bad, fraudulent, and corporate-friendly medical science, incessant marketing based on that science, a media functioning as a corporate mouthpiece, a medical system that feeds on disease, and a public in search of convenience in a fast-paced world with both parents working.

We humans foolishly believe that we can function outside of the laws of nature and the driving forces of millions of years of evolution that shaped our dietary requirements (like those of every other species) without consequences.

Our DNA is 43,000 years old, the same as our Paleolithic hunter-gather ancestors. As such, our food and exercise requirements are consistent with those of Paleolithic man, as dictated by that DNA. Nothing more, nothing less; except that we eat more (especially more simple carbohydrates and sugar, and chemical and processed foods) and exercise less, if at all.

The basics of health are simple:

1.      Eat natural/whole foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts seeds, meats, and fish. Basically, if it lives, grows, dies, and rots out-of-doors (and is within our species specific diet), you can eat it. Cut out, or minimize, all dairy, wheat, corn, pasta, breads, grains/cereals.
2.   Stop eating chemically processed foods, fast foods and snacks, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup.
3.  Take Omega 3 fish oils and Probiotics.  
4.   Drink a lot of water.
5.   Stop drinking all sodas, carbonated beverages, power drinks, and so-called vitamin waters.
6.   Stop smoking, completely.
7.   Exercise at least 30 to 60 minutes, or more, every day: a mix of cardiovascular (running/walking/biking/elliptical, dancing, etc) and weight training.
8.  Get plenty of sunshine without sunscreen. Do not allow yourself to burn.
9.  Commit and connect: have meaningful commitments and connections to other people and/or groups.
10.  Cultivate hobbies, goals, etc. to give purpose and meaning to your life.
11. Stop using toxic body, hair, and bath products and sunscreens.
12.Commit to health and get off as many, or all, of your medications as possible. “Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.”

Health largely boils down to your choices, priorities, and personal responsibility. Do you want to be healthy or do you want to be sick. The choice is up to you. But it is not a matter of what you want. It is all about what you are willing to change and do.

No comments: