Prescription vs. Food Medicine

Contributed by: Laurel Dierking, M.Ed., NFPT, 200YT

According to the IMS Health Institute, in 2014 there were well over 4.5 trillion prescriptions filled in the United States alone; an increase from 3.9 billion in 2010. A second mass study done in 2010 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that as children aged, their fruit and vegetable intake decreased from 92 percent down to 66 percent. These two studies may show a direct relationship between the overall health decline in United States citizens (based on an increase of prescriptions filled) and the steady decrease in the intake of healthy foods such as vegetables.

Practitioners of western medicine tend to leave the fate of a recent diagnosis, and more importantly the recovery methods to said prognosis, up to a trusted doctor or sometimes even a family member. Regardless of the success and progress made within western medicine, there is often more than one way to take proactive action, especially when it comes to health. If an individual recently experienced a decline in their health, whether in the form of an acute injury, a relentless cold, or even a diagnosis of a chronic disease, it would be reasonable to assume that the individual would want to combat the issue using as many options available in order to reclaim their health. Unfortunately, western medicine tends to push prescription drugs over lifestyle changes and thus may never get to the root of the problem. Despite the quick yieldings of prescription drugs, the most holistic method of healthy recovery and prevention is a person’s diet.

Food has long been used as medicine in many cultures across the world. Given the fact that the food ingested into the body literally becomes the structure of our tissues, food is the very foundation of our longevity and long-term health. Food is a powerful force that may also influence the absorption and utilization of prescriptions as well as dietary supplements. Eating a nutrient dense diet will allow your body to recover, repair, and prevent adverse health issues.

Common health issues such as asthma, constipation, osteoarthritis, and high cholesterol can be combated with the inclusion of particular foods. For example, research in 2004 and 2007 showed that children with lower levels of vitamin C were more likely to develop respiratory problems and be diagnosed with asthma. Vitamin C can reduce the severity of asthma attacks and limits the release of histamine in the body which causes wheezing and runny nose. Other foods such as beans have been shown to reduce the symptoms of menopause, prevent certain forms of cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, and even improve your bone and prostate health. Peppers are a highly nutritional food that can aid in weight loss, treatment of colds, arthritis, pain prevention, protect against cancer and heart disease, and are loaded with antioxidants.

As Hippocrates said nearly 3,000 years ago, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. Provided for us by the earth, natural foods contain the vital life energy that we need in order to maintain optimal health, and also to recover from health challenges. Asking a certified nutritionist or a registered dietitian what foods may optimize your health, may just be the ticket to catapult your recovery and long-term health management.

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