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