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THE FOOD AS MEDICINE

Health & Lifestyle
Contributed by : Darshan Goswami, M.S., P.E., Pittsburgh, PA., USA
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-Food is nature's powerful medicine for the body to fight diseases, inflammation, and much more.

Using food as medicine is not a new concept. During 4th century B.C. the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, said "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Systems of healing, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, have taught for thousands of years that food is medicine, and that a healthy diet is a powerful tool for protecting one's health.[1] What we choose to eat has profound effects on our overall health.

A healing diet, filled with medicinal foods, can be a source of special nutrients that have the power to prevent and reverse disease, bolster our immune systems, increase longevity, and improve our overall quality of life naturally.

Scientists are rapidly discovering new molecules, such as phytonutrients, that help our bodies function better. They are anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, antioxidant-rich, and hormone-balancing compounds that help prevent disease and create optimal health. In fact, studies demonstrate that people whose diets are rich in polyphenol antioxidants have lower rates of depression, diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.[4] Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is good for both the mind and body. Scientific evidence suggests that a plant-based diet may reverse coronary artery disease, help eliminate type 2 diabetes, and reduce the risk of cancers. Whole, nutritious foods provide vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, protein, potassium, and fat, all of which are key to optimal bodily function and for keeping the immune system healthy.

How Food Works Like Medicine
The foods we regularly eat help determine whether or not we will become ill, or remain healthy into older age. Scientific and medical research has shown that leafy greens contain antioxidants that protect brain cells and prevent cognitive decline, and that foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are associated with improved concentration and mental alertness. A growing number of physicians are "prescribing" a plant-based diet to prevent and treat chronic diseases.

In 2010, Medicare reimbursed the first lifestyle-based program for treating heart disease, based on decades of research by cardiologist, Dr. Dean Ornish, at University of California, San Francisco. Under his plan, people who had heart diseases switched to a low-fat diet, exercised regularly, stopped smoking, lowered their stress levels with meditation, and strengthened their social connections. In a series of studies, Dr. Ornish found that most followers lowered their blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and also reversed some of the blockages in their coronary arteries.[3]

Some of the ways that medicinal foods act like natural protectors, include decreasing and controlling inflammation, balancing hormones, alkalizing the body, balancing blood glucose, eliminating toxins, and improving absorption of nutrients. Particular medicinal benefits are known to be associated with berries, cruciferous vegetables, fatty fish, mushrooms, spices, green tea, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, honey, seaweed, and fermented foods.[2] The following list shows a few medicinal foods that are linked to especially healing properties in Ayurveda:[5]

Garlic: Effectively fights off all sorts of bacterial and viral infections.

Cardamom: Improves blood circulation, prevents colorectal cancer, and cures respiratory diseases.

Fenugreek Seeds: Rich source of protein, vitamins A & C, iron, calcium, minerals, and helps diabetic patients reduce sugar.

Ginger: Reduces nausea, digestion, inflammation, fever, and excessive sweat; improves blood flow.

Turmeric: Powerful medicinal spice that helps reduce inflammation and decreases the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Cinnamon: Reduces risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol and triglycerides; and helps lower blood pressure and blood sugar.

Cloves: Rich in antioxidants to protect organs from the effects of free radicals, especially the liver; and can eliminate tooth aches.

Legumes: Good source of antioxidants.
Raw nuts, seeds, oils: Full of nutrients, antioxidants, and help promote a healthy cardiovascular system.

Honey: An excellent alternative to sugar that boosts immunity and increases energy.

Conclusion
Food is nature's most powerful preventive medicine, which contains a myriad of compounds that nourish, balance, and support immune function, thereby increasing our body's built-in resistance to disease. One of the most important things we can do for our health is to eat wisely and give our bodies the nutrients it needs to heal. A healthy lifestyle with good nutrition plays a key role in reversing diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and other ailments. A healthy diet can also increase longevity and improve overall quality of life. However, keep in mind that genetics, stress, environment, age, infections, occupational hazards, and lifestyle choices such as lack of exercise, smoking, and alcohol use also play important roles in health and well-being. While food alone cannot replace medical treatment, a healthy diet is the foundation for good health, quality of life, and disease prevention.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for the author's joy in the subject and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.

About the Author:

Darshan Goswami has more than 40 years of experience in the energy field. He worked as a Project Manager for Renewable Energy, Micro-grid and Smart Grid projects at the United States Department of Energy (DOE) in Pittsburgh. Earlier, he retired as Chief (Head) of Renewable Energy from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, DC. Mr. Goswami is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) with a passion and commitment to promote, develop and deploy Renewable Energy and the Hydrogen Economy. In dedication to his life serving humanity and poor people, the author supports the India Foundation for Children Education and Care, Inc. (http://www.ifcare.org/).
References:
[1] Food Is Medicine: The Diet of Medicinal Foods, Science & History, By Jillian Levy, CHHC
[2] Food Is medicine. Foods that have medicinal properties
[3] Why Food Could Be The Best Medicine of All - Time
[4] Can Food Act as Medicine? All You Need to Know, healthline.
[5] 5 Ways to Use Food as Medicine


About Author
Darshan Goswami has more than 40 years of experience in the energy field. He worked as a Project Manager for Renewable Energy, Micro-grid and Smart Grid projects at the United States Department of Energy (DOE) in Pittsburgh. Mr. Goswami is a registered professional electrical engineer with a passion and commitment to promote, develop and deploy renewable energy resources and the hydrogen economy. In dedication to his life serving humanity and poor people, the author supports: India Foundation for Children Education and Care, Inc. (http://www.ifcare.org/).


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