Is Food Your Medicine?

CoachMel Healthy Eating 8 Comments

“Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.”

– Hippocrates

Hippocrates is often referred to as the “father of medicine” in recognition of his lasting contributions as founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine more than 2,000 years ago.

In its time this school revolutionized the way ancient Greece thought about medicine, thus making it a profession in it’s own right.

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Hippocrates believed that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the gods, but rather the product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits.

It was believed that the body contained within itself the power to re-balance and heal, and the Hippocratic therapy focused on simply easing this natural process.

The forward thinking of Hippocrates astounds me, and although many of his convictions were based on what is now known to be incorrect anatomy and physiology theories, we can learn much from our fathers in this area.

Hippocrates considered illness to be a natural phenomenon that should force people to search out what caused the imbalance, and therefore the resulting poor health.

He believed in the benefit of eating a healthy diet, and he related all ailments to poor nutritional habits.

Unfortunately, his wonderful advice, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food,” has largely lost its validity today.

Don’t look for the quick fix!

A few years back I met an elderly gentleman, who taught me a valuable lesson in this world of “A pill for every ill,” and it’s something I’ve never forgotten.

He told me that when he gets aches and pains he doesn’t just opt for the quick fix solution by taking painkillers.

Pain, he said, is the bodies natural way of letting you know something’s wrong.

Therefore you shouldn’t merely put a “band-aid” over it, but should endeavor to fix the problem, so that you can avoid it’s occurrence in the future.

Practically this can be rather difficult, however if I get a headache I now find myself drinking a few extra glasses of water before considering a pain reliever, or if I’ve suffered a bout of acid reflux, I’ll track back my days events to find the potential “trigger.”

Obviously this is not always possible, and sometimes a visit to a medical doctor and prescription drugs are in order.

However, I do feel that drugs are not always the answer, and perhaps taking a look at our lifestyle as a whole would be more fitting in many cases.

Thankfully in recent days we’re witnessing a move back to food-based medicine, for example the discovery that omega-3 fatty acids can improve our heart health, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

As Mike Kinnaird from Passion for Health said,

“It might take more than an apple to keep your doctor away, but by making sure that every calorie we eat has its full complement of micronutrients, we can give our bodies the best chance of keeping us healthy and even reversing illness.”

Maybe now we can once again appreciate and relate to what Hippocrates proclaimed when he encouraged us to use food as medicine.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe in the benefit of food as medicine? I’d love to hear from you!

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Comments 8

  1. Melanie

    Hi Carole,

    Thanks so much for commenting. Congratulations to you too!!

    Are there particular aspects of Ayurvedic medicine you’re fond of? It sounds extremely interesting, and I know nothing about it.

  2. Cathy in NZ

    I also am a non-pill-if-I-can-help it person. Anyway for what I deem minor ailments. I once was invited to attend a functional medicine conference and was quite taken with the food functional method. I use from things fairly regularily because I’m told they help various things. I rarely take a multi-vit but rather eat what I deem a nutritionally balanced diet with an emphasis on the moment of taking off a few kilos! (put them on over a year… besides diet changes, introduced back into my life the gym!!)
    Fruit & veges are my friends, cereals and grains and protein….oh you know food stuffs. But I have one day off per week with some gooey and sticky.
    I do however, have to take an Asthma medication daily and top up when things go off line….not much off line because I know that I need to keep healthy. I use other meds for various other associated problems with Asthma but of late they have not been needed 🙂

  3. Melanie

    Hi Carole,

    Thanks for the link.

    Hi Cathy,

    I’m totally with you on the eating a “balanced diet” rather than taking a multi-vit. Best wishes for your weight loss journey! 🙂

  4. susan

    Growing up, everytime I even mentioned something being wrong I got handed a pill for it. Now I look for the same relief that you talk about. My doctor has gotten me to stop taking advil completely, which has been a real challenge but definitely worth it.

  5. jh

    Love, Love, Love this article. When I was in China, I was amazed at the complete nutrition and medicinal aspects of the food. So many of their medicinal herbs are made into soups that are eaten every day. Whole foods are the best way to go, definitely. Your body is telling you something when you are in pain or feel bad and it is necessary to be conscious enough to sit down, tune in, and understand yourself. Thanks for the info.


  6. Melanie

    Hello again JH,

    Thank you so much for commenting!! 🙂 It’s great to hear from someone so enthusiastic about health!

    Did you happen to get any of those Chinese soup recipes by any chance? I’d love to try them out, they sound wonderful.

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