Food as the 'Best Medicine'?

By: Dr. Stacy Cantlin, Ph.D., Clinical Nutrition

“Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal the patient with food." Do you know whose quote that is? Hippocrates, born in 460 BC and considered the “Father of Medicine”. His Oath of Medical Ethics (i.e. “The Hippocratic Oath”) is taken by physicians still to this day when they begin their medical practice.

Let that sink in for a second. 2500 years ago, in Hippocrates’ time, he stressed the importance of healthy food choices in relation to good health.  Modern medicine has come a long way since then, but how did we get so far away from the notion that ‘food is the best medicine?’

Luckily we are coming back around and this notion has been growing in merit.  Many people in the medical community are encouraged by the growing body of research that supports the claim that people who make healthy food choices are able to control chronic diseases, or even avoid them altogether.  

Clinical researchers conducting studies are finding that, in some cases, food and exercise plans actually do work better than drug based treatment. A study done by The Diabetes Prevention Program found that people with a high risk for developing diabetes had a nearly 60% decrease in their risk for the disease, just by following an outlined food and exercise plan. This was double the risk reduction in high risk people who just followed a Metformin drug program.  

Why is it that our first response to illness is ‘what are my medication options?’  We all can probably venture a guess. Eating healthy and changing our diet is not as easy as popping a pill. It takes thoughtful choices and planning every day.

Want to know the good news? Switching up diet and exercise habits can reverse the damage we have done by fueling it with crap. And guess what? We don’t have to flip our whole lives upside down to make changes. Being mindful and starting with small goals can set us on the path for great results.  Want somewhere to start? Walk the dog an extra block today. Or replace one can of pop in a day with a glass of water. Or one day a week go to bed one hour earlier.

We can all make small changes to make ourselves better. Let’s take that first step together.

Stay tuned for more posts about making healthy changes, and thanks for reading. ~Dr. Stacy