Have you ever heard of the phrase, “Food is Medicine”? According to the University of Minnesota (2016), food isn’t just the product our body turns into energy in order to function. Food also provides messages: It communicates and gives signals to our bodies which are interpreted into how and when our bodies work. In essence, food is both an instruction manual for our brains and the fuel which makes us go.
Many food scientists also tell us that the wrong types of food or mis-using food can be harmful. For example, we know that over-eating along with not getting enough exercise can be a major cause of obesity, and that obesity can contribute to diabetes. As a matter-of-fact, there is a ton of food science research, but each time someone learns something new, we discover that much of what we previously knew about food may not actually be correct!
Dr. Steven Lundry recently published a book called, The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in Healthy Foods that Cause Disease and Weight Gain (2017) in which he talks about food research which could topple the entire way we have thought about food. I would say that it has the potential to topple the Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid, as we know it. In his book, he describes how plants, like any other living organism, have built-in, defensive survival strategies which are meant to make their fruits unusable to other living organism. Humans, however, might be too stubborn to pay attention to the signals that somem of the food it takes in may not be good for the body, so they continue to consume those items. Since we whole-heartedly believe that those foods are good for us, we blame the ill effects we experience on something else and ignore the true basis of the problems our bodies and minds experience.
Other researchers have been pointing out that manufactured foods (aka, “fake food”), pesticides, fertilizers, pink goo, glues, additives, and other things either dilute or eliminate the goodness that most wholesome, natural foods offer us. We have to ask ourselves if all of the junk added to our foods remains in our bodies and has toxic effects. On-the-other-hand, when we dilute food, we may also dilute the nutritional value of the food and eliminate some of the much-needed fiber our bodies need. Speaking of eliminating fiber: When we make juice out of whole foods, we tend to think the juice is as good for us as the food it was made from, but the truth is that when we remove the pulp and fiber, all that is left, in many cases, is flavored sugar which can harm our bodies instead of helping.
The Greek doctor, Hippocrates, lived between 470 and 360 BC and is known as a grand pioneer of modern medicine. He coined the phrase, ” Let food be thy medicine.” He and his cohort of doctors realized that the type and amount of food people eat can reduce inflammation, assist with cleaning the colon, and regulate major body functions (e.g., blood sugar levels, heart rates, cholesterol, pain) while reducing the amount of drugs the body needs. That’s a long time to prove the benefits of eating a diet of good, fresh, organic food. The main problem is that really good, organic food is expensive, and we don’t all have the means to pay for what we really need.
One way to get around the expense of whole organic food is to grow your own food, as much as possible. Some things can even be grown inside or on the balcony in pots. If you don’t have a green thumb, shop at farmer’s markets or roadside stands to increase the level of fresh, organic food your family eats. Other tricks to using food as medicine are to monitor your portion sizes, ensure you wash food you buy which may be covered with pesticides and the filth from many people’s hands, and eat a variety of foods which are high in fiber. Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel, and avoid foods which cause you to feel bad while increasing those which boost your energy. While we do not advocate stopping your medical routine, we do suggest that you pay attention to how real food affects you and adjust our diet in a way which reflects eating for your health.
Franklin Township Community School Corporation teachers, staff, and support personnel attended a certification class in YOUTH Mental Health First Aid. Youth Mental Health First Aid certification teaches participants how to identify mental health issues in children and adolescents and assist a young person, before or during, a time of mental health crisis. Since mental illness in young people looks a lot like normal adolescent development, the Franklin Township staff learned how to tell the difference, as well as, how to approach a young person who may not have the knowldge or vocabulary to express that mental health might be a concern.
In an effort to certify all teachers in the USA within the next ten years, the National Council for Behavioral Health, NAMI-Indiana, the Education & Wellness Coalition, behavioral health coalitions, nonprofits, hospitals, schools, and others have been offering the certification class all over the country. Like CPR and Red Cross and Safety certifications offered by the Red Cross, Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid teach participants what to do to assist a person who is suffering from a mental healht crisis until appropriate professional help arrives or the issue subsudes. Teachers across the country are getting certified and learning about Youth Mental Health First Aid in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, to learn how to approach and take action when a child is experiencing a mental health crisis, and to help our youth get early intervention for better outcomes.
Congratulations Franklin Township Community School Corporation! Thank you for a great class!
During the month of May, mental health professionals across America are asking you to educate yourself and others about mental health issues. The more we talk about it and educate people, the better our chances will be to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. That relates to getting more people the help they need as early as possible. We know that early intervention is a primary key to diminishing or eliminating the effects of mental health issues which can perpetuate into mental illness. Recent research indicated that 1 in 5 adults experiences a diagnosed mental health disorder in any given year.
Diagnosed mental disorders are only a fraction of the mental health issues which we want to address. Many people experience mental health issues which are not bad enough to be diagnosed as mental illness, but which could benefit from being addressed before they become a serious problem. When we are aware of some of the symptoms and how they affect people, we can better identify who could use some help. The goal is to help as early as possible, so the person who is suffering can move on to live a healthy, productive life. You don’t have to be a medical provider to ask someone if they would like to talk or to let someone know that you think they are important. Your intervention could be all it takes to save a life or direct a great person to the help they need.
Look around for a training program. They are all over the country. If you want to become certified in Mental Health First Aid, email us at MHFA@educationwellness.org. We can help you find a course anywhere in the country or provide one for you or your organization, right here in Central Indiana.
During our Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, and QPR classes, we provide our participants this list of national suicide and crisis hotlines. It was compiled by Pam Tina, one of our instructors, after having been asked by many for a way to connect people with prevention resources other than the 1-800-273-TALK number. Some people indicated that a chat line or text number would be easier for those who grew up in the digital age to ask for help. This list is not exhaustive, and if you know of another number which could be useful, please email us additions at: MHFA@educationwellness.org
Please feel free to share this list! EdWellCo