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.
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
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