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Food as Medicine
We all know that a healthy diet, in addition to appropriate rest, exercise, and lifestyle choices are vital to obtaining and maintaining good health.
But do you know that numerous traditional cultures go beyond this, and use specific foods in place of medication to heal both mental and physical health conditions, and that they have been doing this for thousands of years?
Specific foods can be used to:
Improve mood Improve sleep Increase ability to cope with life’s set backs Reduce internal inflammation Manage diabetes Reduce cholesterol Balance hormones Reduce food cravings Strengthen the immune system
So How Does Food Influence Health? Food is fuel for your body, similar to petrol for a car. Just like your car functions best with a specific type of fuel, your body works the same way, in that it runs at its optimal performance when you fuel it with nutritious, whole foods.
When the foods you eat on a regular basis are nutrient-poor e.g. contain artificial colours, chemicals, preservatives, additives, trans-fats, highly processed, your body may begin to malfunction and this will inevitably lead to negative health consequences over time.
In addition to negatively impacting your physical health, research has shown that these processed foods also affect your thinking, and more importantly your mood, emotions and your ability to cope with life. Every meal that you consume influences the way that you feel one way or another.
It’s common for individuals to use food as an emotional crutch. Unfortunately, this creates a catch-22 situation, in that eating highly processed, chemical-laden foods has been shown to reduce our ability to cope with stress and also increase our food cravings.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, they use ‘Food as Medicine’. So, depending on what physical or emotional conditions you are experiencing, rather than prescribe medication they would prescribe herbs, or specific foods or recipes. For example, if you are turning to food to self-soothe, they would recommend specific root vegetables, beans and spices – pumpkin, adzuki beans, cinnamon, to help nourish your Earth element and satisfy the internal hunger. If you are struggling with insomnia, they may recommend black sesame seeds, plus a number of other healing foods.
Using ‘Food as Medicine’, however, is more than what you eat, as stress has a major impact on how efficiently your body is able to utilise the nutrients in the food you eat. So, stress-reduction activities such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, mindfulness etc, go hand-in-hand with addressing and improving both your mental and physical health.
Now that you know how food can heal, at every meal you have the opportunity to choose to make food choices that will increase your energy, your health and your mood!
Cairns QLD Health and Fitness Article: 220916175241 Created: 17 Sep 2022