You might have heard the term ‘food is medicine’ before, but what does it actually mean, and is there much research to back it up?
Viewing food as medicine might seem like a dreamy alternative medicine idea, but the concept is actually backed by quite a bit of research. The father of Western Medicine Hippocrates was actually the first to coin the term ‘Food is Medicine’, and he’s also believed to be the first person to teach that diseases are caused naturally, rather than by gods and superstition, so it’s safe to say his teachings have some merit. While we’re not suggesting food can replace modern medicine, here are some ways in which you can use the two together to live a healthier, happier life.
What does food as medicine mean?
There’s plenty of research that shows a poor diet can increase the risk of certain diseases, while some healthy foods can offer medicinal benefits and help prevent and cure certain diseases. That’s the idea behind the concept of food as medicine. Fresh, wholefoods pack a whole lot of unique vitamins, minerals and other substances that your body needs to thrive, which can’t be replicated by just taking a supplement.
Why is viewing food as medicine important?
In modern Western diets, we tend to eat a lot of highly processed foods and have a lack of fresh produce and wholefoods. Due to this, many people are now deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, which can prevent your body from performing at its best, as well as impair your immune system.
It’s not just vitamins and minerals though – processed foods can also have a lack of antioxidants, fibre, protein and healthy fats. Research has shown that without a healthy dose of these in your body, you’re at a higher risk of developing mental illness, diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease. For example, one study found that every 10% increase in ultra-processed food in a diet resulted in a 12% increase in cancer risk.
Why do unhealthy foods increase disease risk?
A diet high in sugar, fast food and refined grains can lead to health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. That’s because processed foods kill the good bacteria in your gut, promote insulin resistance and boost chronic inflammation, while also leaving you more susceptible to disease overall.
Think of food as the fuel you put into your body. If the only fuel you give your body is lacking in all the goodies it needs to thrive, certain elements are going to stop working properly.
5 everyday foods you can use as medicine
While eating a diet full of a variety wholefoods, especially those that are plant-based or high in plants has been proven to boost your health in many ways, here are just five everyday foods with high health-boosting benefits.
Berries have been the focus of many health-promoting studies as their high level of nutrients and plant compounds like antioxidants can help your body fight disease. Research has even found that diets high in berries cannot only prevent certain chronic conditions and disease, but also protect against some cancers.
Nutrients in mushrooms have been found to help boost your immune system, heart and brain health, and they’ve been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks thought that they gave warriors strength in battle, while the Romans viewed them as the food of the gods. Good enough for gods, good enough for us mere mortals!
3. Cruciferous Vegetables
We’ve always been told to eat our greens for a reason. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale are full of antioxidants, which can help lower your risk of heart disease and promote longevity.
The saying ‘an apple a day’ doesn’t come from nothing. While all fruits play an important and unique role in keeping you healthy, apples alone have been linked to a reduced risk of asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while also inhibiting cancer cell growth and lowering cholesterol.
5. Green Tea
Green tea is one of those things that seems to pop up on every health food list, and with good reason. There’s plenty of research that backs the benefits of green tea, which include reduced inflammation and a lower risk of disease. Sounds like it’s time to boil the kettle and indulge in a hot cuppa!
At Soulara, we’re big believers in using food as medicine, and putting the best ingredients possible into your body. That’s why we only use real, wholefood ingredients in our meals, and make most of our sauces and dressings in-house (where possible. Gluten-free soy sauce is one we leave to the experts!). Meals like our Mushroom Bourguignon with Black Garlic Mash, bursting with plenty of little button mushrooms, and our Chickpea Shakshuka, served on a bed of leafy kale, will ensure you’re getting in plenty of fresh veggies and wholefood ingredients and enjoy doing it.
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