Do you know what one of the most important root causes of most disease is? Let me give you a hint… it’s not your genes, cholesterol number, or workout routine. It’s poor food choices.
Even more interesting to note is that most people are still hearing from their doctors (and ironically still believing) that, what you eat has no impact on your health one way or another. Now that’s just false and has to change if overall health is going to improve in the long-term.
Here are some commons myths about disease I’d like to debunk:
- You are not doomed to your genetic makeup
- Your genes only impact about 5% of your health outcome
- Health (or disease) is influenced predominately (about 95%) by the environment, behaviors and other daily factors (that’s epigenetics)
- Well-being is the combination of both your genes and environment together
- Your lifestyle affects the level of inheritability of disease… so what you do today affects the health and vitality of future generations.
Modern Medicine–Symptoms Not Solutions
Here is what often happens when you are suffering from a more chronic health condition like digestive issues, IBS, fatigue, brain fog, hormone imbalances and even more serious symptoms. Your doctor will ask you, “what are your symptoms”, and you’ll go down the list one by one. Then they’ll make a diagnosis and give you a “by-the-book” remedy including most likely a prescription drug treatment.
The drug treatments are usually pharmaceuticals that have potentially serious side effects and often fail to address the real root cause of why you are sick in the first place. Unfortunately years and a multitude of prescriptions later, you have a host of complex symptoms that eclipse the original health issue.Unfortunately in this health care (“sick care”) model, little if any attention is paid to the foods, environmental factors and activities that you experience every day that may have lead to your condition and perpetuate it.
Modern medicine and honestly speaking most cultures and populations have lost sight of the words of one of the founders of medicine as we know it, Hippocrates, whose motto was, “Let thy food be thy medicine.”
It behooves us to learn from the ancient wisdom of Hippocrates, and other traditions that revere nature as the “cure” for all disease. So we need to simply and mindfully get back on the right track to lasting health by paying attention to food.
In the words of an ancient Ayurvedic proverb, “When the diet is correct, medicine is of no need… when the diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.“
Links Between Food, Energy, Hormones & Well-Being
Food is not just calories. For starters, it’s an energy source for the body and more importantly the brain, it balances blood sugar and pressure, and it’s often used as a comfort during times of stress or depression. But it is so much more than all of these.
Food is a life. The better the quality of food you eat, the better your life can ultimately be.
Here’s some ways the food you eat affects your body…
1) Energy & Weight Management
You need energy to grow, think, keep warm, be active and basically to stay alive. The energy needed to do this comes from the carbohydrate, protein and fat in the food and drinks you consume.
Too often people eat food that is void of dense nutrition, heavy on carbs and processed ingredients, and light on healthy fats, oils, and clean proteins. This kind of diet doesn’t create healthy fuel for the body to function at its best. Research is showing that a shift away from a diet high in carbs and low in fat and protein to one high in healthy fats and good clean proteins and low in sugar is needed in order to prevent many chronic diseases.
For example, foods that are lower in sugar are absorbed more slowly by the body, which may help you avoid those terrible energy spikes and lags during the day. Without glucose coursing through your body all day long, it’s now forced to burn fat, which ultimately helps to control weight, maintain a consistent energy level, control insulin, and more.
So ideally a diet consisting of healthy fats (think avocado, salmon, walnuts, coconut oil) and low glycemic foods like high-fiber vegetables, some fruits (berries, green apple, green banana), nuts and seeds, would provide the best source of energy to do all things your body needs to do (and then some).
Hormones play a key role in every function of the body—from digestion and sugar and fat metabolism, to responding to stress and feeling happy. A decrease or alteration in hormone health can contribute to accelerated aging, weight gain, reproductive issues, cognitive issues and more.
Two important “hunger control” hormones ghrelin and leptin work to either increase or decrease your appetite. Together these hormones make the eating process happen, help to balance energy, and keep the fat off your belly.
Ghrelin makes you feel hungry and too much of it can cause you to overeat. It also plays a role in controlling growth hormone and insulin production, fat metabolism, how your gut works, and stabilizing blood pressure. Leptin on the other hand, helps to make you feel full and decreases your appetite. With leptin in balance, you can walk away from the table after one serving and feel satisfied.
The balance of ghrelin and leptin enables another hormone insulin to stay in balance. The trick to keeping these hormones in check is to eat balanced meals consisting of healthy proteins, fats, fiber, and some carbs, that provide lasting energy and don’t rely on a lot of additional snacking throughout the day.
Foods that have important medicinal properties act as natural protectors against disease, infections, and even premature aging. These foods tend to be packed with anti-oxidants and are more anti-inflammatory such as berries (alma, blueberry, raspberry), nuts and seeds (chia, flax, hemp), bone broth, fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), oils (avocado, coconut), and spices like turmeric and garlic.
One of biggest contributors to tissue and organ damage is oxidative stress and inflammation. Your body needs a certain amount of both of these to regenerate, fight off infections, and keep you healthy, but too much of it can accelerate the aging process.
Benefits of anti-inflammatory foods include heart and brain health, protecting the skin, promoting good digestion and gut health, bone health and more.
Your Gut Is Talking to Your Brain All The Time
For decades now, two-way communication or “cross-talk” between the brain and the gut has long been recognized through established pathways of communication. These pathways go back and forth between the thinking and feeling centers in the brain, crisscross down the body, and connect up to the mechanics of food digestion in the gut.
Think of your brain has having a hotline to one of the biggest communication hubs in the body… that’s your gut. Every minute of every day, commands come directly from your gut, through your central nervous system to your brain, and tell it to release hormones, respond to stress, think, feel and all the intricate biological mechanisms that keep you alive.
Your gut also plays an important role in the development of neurotransmitters, which are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout your brain and body. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest among other things.
In your gut, it all starts with the neurotransmitters GABA and Serotonin, which are responsible for regulating mood, appetite, sleep, and relaxation. When you’re eating a healthy diet, digestion is working and the gut is healthy and full of good bacteria, it has the potential to regulate mood and positive feelings, which play an important role in how old you feel, the attitude you have, and how you feel towards others.
So back to our topic of food as medicine… if you live on a diet of processed and overly sugary foods, toxic oils, preservatives and pesticides, you’re apt to have boughts of brain fog, poor sleep, chronic stress that doesn’t abate, outbursts towards family and friends, problems at work, and more.
Top Healing Foods
There are so many excellent choices out there when it comes to super foods… those that are packed with nutrients, protein, good fats, antioxidants and more. I’ve selected a few of my favorites that I always have on-hand and eat on a daily basis.
The Best Healthy Strategies
Food alone won’t help you live longer and healthier… you need a healthy lifestyle and winning strategies to go all the way. This means you have to understand about epigenetics and how this plays more of a role in your health than anything else.
While your genes are the blueprints of possibilities of health and biology, epigenetics is the “soup” that your genes live in everyday, and both of these factors combined are what impacts whether your genes are turned “on” and “off” and put you at risk (or not) for specific health conditions.
The bottom-line with epigenetics is that your choices —your knowledge, and the actions you take based on that knowledge—play a tremendous role, a role far greater than previously thought, in avoiding and beating disease, looking and feeling amazing (no matter your age), and living a vibrant life.
So my simple suggestions that truly can go a long way to improving your health and quality of life are not new… but simply speaking, they are no longer “nice to haves” but “necessities” in today’s modern world:
…. Eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet that fits your body type
…. Get enough rest and sleep every night (no less than 7.5 hours and closer to 8-9 for most people)
…. Find ways to reduce stress throughout the day… walk, jog, play sports, dance
…. Relax when you get home after a long day… find things to quietly unwind like yoga, calming music, meditation (don’t sit in front of the TV)
…. Find support in friends, family and your community
…. Keep a positive attitude and be grateful for things you have in life.
Just to Recap Food Is Medicine
- Your genes alone don’t control your health destiny
- Food can be both a medicine and a toxin
- Your diet today has the power to change the health of future generations
- Have a positive attitude… thinking and acting young and healthy is part of the equation.
Disclaimer: the views and nutritional advice expressed in this publication are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical advice. No information provided should be interpreted as a diagnosis of any disease, nor an attempt to treat or prevent or cure any disease or condition. All information in this publication is for educational purposes only and Aine-Marie and Advesta Health encourages its clients and members to continue to work in a partnership with qualified medical professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider or seek medical assistance. Reading, sharing, or downloading this publication does not establish a doctor patient relationship with Aine-Marie or any Advesta Health employee or consultant including any of our licensed health practitioners, coaches, dieticians or nutritionists.