“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” – Hippocrates 460 – 359 BC
The notion that foods play an enormous role in your health is not new thinking as evidenced by Hippocrates’ statement from nearly 2,500 years ago, “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food.” Unfortunately, this simple statement and smart way of thinking has yet to become a mainstay of American culture. The concept fell into obscurity by the 19th century, and during the first 50 years of the 20th century the discovery of the essential elements and vitamins, particularly in the context of deficiency diseases, occurred. This lead to “enrichment” of processed foods to help people regain the health they lost when they abandoned real whole foods.
It is possible to eat all day long and still starve yourself. Why? Because if all you eat are junk foods and other foods with little to no nutrition, you will not receive the nutrients your body needs to function properly, let alone heal disease. All that your body has to run on are the foods you put into it, and it needs the best foods it can get to combat all of the stress and environmental toxins that are virtually impossible to avoid in today’s world.
In this way, whole foods certainly can act as “medicine” in that they can protect and heal your body. Another way to look at it is if you fortify your body with healthy nutrients from fresh foods, you likely won’t have a need for medicine. Individual foods each have their own unique set of nutrients that meet the varying requirements of your body.
Hippocrates’ advice is just now seeing a revival to American culture, but not yet as a mainstay, and not without immense confusion. We know that we should eat better, but we now live in a culture where our ideas about what a “healthy” diet is varies so greatly that we end up becoming thoroughly overwhelmed and frustrated. We do not have to feel this way.
It is not that nature does not supply our needs, it is that we fail to recognize nature’s complexity and application. It is truly a human failing to believe we can live apart from nature’s intricate ways without suffering consequences.