Food as medicine is really not a new concept; this concept has been very well established in many cultures and societies around the world. However, with the strength of pharmaceutical companies, the idea of healing through food has been so diluted and received a ‘hippy’ reputation leading to a dominant allopathic approach. In Ayurveda, there is a very insightful proverb that summarizes this concept “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need”
Scientific facts and research on the benefits of nutrition on health, prevention from certain diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and skeletal conditions are widely available. Yet, doctors never prescribe food as a cure; they force patients to swallow pills instead of telling them to consume better food. All lifestyle related diseases and can be avoided with good nutrition. Yet, doctors never prescribe food as a cure or diet as prevention over a pill. We trusted the medical institutions for years and we never questioned neither the system nor the knowledge, but the results are terrifying. (According to the CDC statistics, seven of the 10 causes of death are chronic diseases. Two of them heart disease and cancer together account to almost 50%)
It is only recently after the publications of the side effects of many drugs and the increase in chronic diseases that the inadequacy of the medical system has been revealed. We started questioning our doctor and their relationship with the pharmaceutical companies; we started looking at the root cause of our diseases rather than just the symptoms and in many cases realized that it is linked to our consumption of the wrong food and environment (finally!). Also major research in epigenetics and how nutrition affects our genetic expression are simply mind blowing. Holistic medicine, Tibetan medicine, complementary and alternative medicine and Ayurvedic medicine are gaining great momentum in treatments and prevention of many diseases and many centers around the world are treating patients with a variety of diseases.
For example, in treatment of nausea, we force ourselves to drink a horrible pink liquid medicine or swallow huge pills, but find it difficult to cook a healthy meal with ginger. Ginger for centuries has been used for many benefits but one of its primary benefits is for nausea. Drinking ginger or eating more ginger sounds too simplistic to cure nausea, a pill sounds so much better. So taking a synthetic pill, which the body cannot digest, and which could have major side effects became the preference. Taking a pill has many side effects; first, the interaction of the chemical in the body and the second, psychological. I remember my mother, who used to stress so much if she forgot to take her medication and she even stressed when she was thinking about how to swallow it. So taking medication was a source of mental stress whichever way.
It is fascinating how we became conditioned with that fact that if we get sick, we take a pill and it will cure us. Since, I started following a vegan diet to cure my heart and high cholesterol level, I have become a source of pity for my friends, as if by eating a plant-based diet my life of pleasure has stopped, which is completely contrary to the truth.
We associate freedom, pleasure and power to eating whatever we want and whenever we want. Eating healthy and curing disease with food sounds an old- fashion, archaic way of living and that is the power of advertisement and the media.
We became slaves to our taste buds. We associate taste to happiness and satisfaction.
It is a fact that curing with food is far more complicated then just taking a pill as it forces us to rely on ourselves and become personally responsible for our health rather than depend on doctors. Ayurveda actually empowers the individual with the ability to understand and care for his body. In a world of strong food industries linked to politics and billions of dollars in advertising, which encourages adults and children to over-consume unhealthy junk food, it is hard to fight the temptations. Within 2 blocks of my house I have more than 20 restaurants, 5 Starbucks, 3 Dunkin Donuts. Also snacking is an epidemic, we cannot stay more then 1 hour without snacking, we find snacks everywhere pharmacies, clothing stores, furniture shops, bookstores, gas stations, baby stores, etc. A study at Tulane University found that snacks are available in 41% of 1000 retail shop in a study conducted in 19 cities).
We all know we should eat healthier; we have a sense of what is a healthy choice and what is not, but have a hard time making that choice. We make excuses to eat bad food and recall that a healthy friend got cancer last year so our nutrition doesn’t really matter. We associate with what the people around us and in the media enjoy and seeing your friend partake in a burger will only increase the temptation. Eventually we prefer short -term satisfaction on long-term benefits… and this is the key to our health.
So what can we do about it? How can we understand to heal our bodies naturally and prevent diseases in the first place? Stay tuned for PART 2.