If we have a look at the many different lifestyle disease becoming more prevalent in today’s society (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc) – these are all preventable! So why isn’t there a focus on intervening and preventing these diseases from occurring in the first place? These so-called ‘lifestyle diseases’ are a result of inflammation.
And I know you’re thinking, but isn’t inflammation the body’s natural healing response to injury or illness? Yes, it is, however it’s long-term, chronic inflammation that is the problem. When inflammation persists longer than required to heal the injury or escapes the bounds of it into other areas of the body it becomes problematic.
I know I digressed there slightly but I wanted to provide a bit of context….
The past several decades has seen a shift towards convenience eating rather than taking time to prepare good quality, wholesome meals. Whilst this appeared to be a good thing at the time, we are now seeing the terrible effects in current day society. We have only recently started to hear about the real impact that food has on our bodies. It’s an exciting idea (and kind of scary thinking about potential damage caused!) that what we put in our mouths can so heavily impact our health.
Now that I’ve delivered the doom and gloom, here’s the good news!
We can heal ourselves and help to prevent these lifestyle diseases through food. Yes, you heard correctly, food as medicine. Even Hippocrates said it;
“let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
Hippocrates was a smart man and well ahead of his time!
How can we begin to undo the damage?
We need to focus on wholefood nutrition! I’m sure some you already have a good idea what this is, but just in case – wholefood nutrition is about eating foods which resemble the foods naturally produced by nature (or as closely as possible!). ie. Whole Foods that you can trace back to the source. Realistically, we should be eating closer to the way that people did a hundred years ago.
That means, instead of buying a tin of soup; cook it from scratch using fresh produce from your local farmers market. You’ll know exactly what goes into it and most importantly which nasties are not in there (those un-pronounceable and numbered preservatives – I’m looking at you!). Sure it takes a bit of extra time but it tastes so much better and is far better for your health!
Why are these so important for us?
Wholefoods such as fruits and vegetables are full of phytonutrients which have an antioxidant effect! I’m sure you’ve heard of the studies which show red wine and chocolate as being a good antioxidant…well at least they were the studies where my ears would prick up. I mean, who doesn’t love red wine and chocolate! All in moderation, of course ? The reason we need antioxidants is to protect our cells from the free radicals being produced through everyday living. Through our food, our environment and our everyday habits. Free radicals cause the body’s cells to break down over time; however these amazing antioxidants help to combat this and allow the body to repair! Pretty remarkable isn’t it! This brings me back to the idea of food being medicine – through getting good wholefood nutrition, we give the body a fighting chance to repair itself and ward off damaging free radicals.
It’s like putting fuel into a car… If you put good fuel into a car, when the accelerator is pressed, the car outputs clean exhaust. If you put dirty fuel into the car; the will output dirty exhaust.
Don’t let the output of your food be dirty exhaust inside your body!
I wanted to briefly touch on nutrients as these are so important and the secret to good health! When we eat, we chew the food where saliva breaks this down. The food then moves onto the stomach where it is further broken down by digestive enzymes and juices, before moving into the small intestines. This is where the main absorption of nutrients occurs. The nutrients pass through the walls of the intestine and are transported to the cells where it is used by the body. There are so many different things which affect how we absorb nutrients.
What is our gut health like (a future blog post, for sure!).
Are we actually eating the rainbow?
What is the quality of the produce like – how old it is?
When was it picked and how was it stored?
Is it organic or has it been sprayed with insecticides?
And a very important question that is so easily overlook…are we actually eating the correct number of serves of fruits and vegetables each day?!
In most cases, the answer is ‘no’. We need to be eating 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day…which is a LOT! Not only that, we need to eat these from different coloured fruits and vegetables to achieve a wide spread of the available phytonutrients as they each have their own healing purpose.
The majority of people have a gap between what should eat and what we actually eat.
This isn’t the end of the world and it can be worked around through taking a wholefood-based supplement. Deep down, most of us know what we should be eating even if it is tempting to opt for the quick-fix sugary treat. Nowadays there are so many clever ways to use wholefood ingredients to create healthier versions of those delicious foods. All it takes is a bit of creativity and patience.