Let your food be your medicine

‘Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.’


More than 2,000 years ago the Greek doctor and philosopher, Hippocrates, articulated an idea that has proved its worth over and over again, the idea that what we take into our bodies has a significant effect on our health and wellbeing and that adjusting our nutritional intake is vital for healing.

Indeed, most healing approaches, East and West, involve ingesting substances that alter the biochemistry of the body in some way. In the Chinese tradition, they also recognised that they impact on the body’s energy pathways too.

A Poor Diet

A poor diet can suppress the immune system, irritate the main organs, initiate disease and increase physical and mental stress. People who have a poor diet undoubtedly get ill more often.

There’s plenty of advice in the media – some of it quite contradictory, for example:

  • Not all fatty food is bad for you. Sure, an excess of saturated fat affects the immune system and causes inflammation that makes a person obese. But balance is everything; without a moderate amount of fat, the body cannot absorb or store certain vitamins.
  • Tea and coffee are widely understood to be harmful because of the caffeine levels, but three or four cups of tea or coffee a day reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Decaffeinated tea and coffee work just as well so it’s likely other compounds like antioxidants and magnesium are responsible for these health benefits.
  • Sugar is universally regarded as harmful because of the effect it has on blood sugar levels and obesity. Global sales of sugary and artificially sweetened drinks rise every year. Yet not all sugars are bad; natural sugar found in fruit and vegetables is not at all harmful.
  • Conventional medical wisdom says that most heart attacks and strokes are caused by cholesterol, and while it’s true that cholesterol builds up plaque in the arteries, it’s the plaque, not the mere presence of cholesterol that is dangerous.

Try this: Write down everything you have ingested in the last 48 hours. How much of it is truly healthy or has a healing effect? And how much is potentially damaging?

A good diet

In a nutshell, a good diet is one that gives the body what it needs when it needs it and avoids unnecessary toxins and pollutants.

It contains sufficient – but not excess – fat, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins and minerals, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain and fibre. It aids blood sugar regulation and minimises toxins such as chemical food additives, salt, caffeine and nicotine. It helps maintain the correct acid/alkaline balance (most modern diets are much too acidic).

Healthy fluids are also essential – fresh water, fruit and herbal infusions and fresh fruit juice, minimising alcohol and sweet, fizzy drinks.

It must also take account of food allergies. I have known people who suffer from allergies to nuts, wheat/gluten, dairy, candida and yeast. These are not mere food fads but serious problems when ignored. Anyone who suspects they are affected should have themselves checked out.

I have also known people who rigorously follow special diets – Atkins, Hay, macrobiotic, blood-type diets and so on. Generally speaking there is little scientific evidence to support fad diets so be careful.

Dietary supplements

Much of our food is artificially grown in barren soil or even wire wool sprayed with chemicals. It is deficient in nutrients that were much more plentiful a century ago. Hence many people would benefit from taking a dietary supplement to ensure the body sufficient fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, anti-oxidants and calcium. A quality multi-vitamin and mineral pill daily is sufficient for most purposes.

Nutritional therapy

Nutritional therapists aim to discover nutritional factors which affecting a person’s general health and wellbeing. They suggest specific changes to their clients’ diet to try and prevent or alleviate illness. Conditions helped by nutritional therapy can range from relatively minor health problems to chronic complaints like fatigue, depression, joint pain, skin disease, migraines, eating disorders and asthma. Nutritional therapy plays a huge part in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Moderation in all things

When people ask me for my views on nutrition, unless they have a particular health condition or allergy (in which  case I suggest they consult a doctor) I offer two simple suggestions:

(1) Moderation in all things – if 90% of your diet is healthy, a little of what you fancy won’t harm you;

(2) Stick to natural, cruelty-free food as much as possible as part of your responsibility to other living creatures and the planet.

Hippocrates’ advice to let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food is probably the best health advice ever given and is probably more relevant today than ever!


©FGATT, 6.3.2017

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Traditionally, healing substances have come from nature

Humans have always ingested substances for healing and good health. Some of these improve the digestion process, such as prunes and high fibre products. But there are others too. Many foods have healing properties, e.g. honey and lemon for colds, garlic as an antiseptic, an apple a day…. Then there are herbs, valued for their healing properties in almost every society around the world. In some cultures, they even eat soil for healing!

What do these all have in common? They all change the body’s chemistry. And we all know how powerful changes in our biochemistry can be.

Medical biochemists (including most Western doctors) see illness primarily as an unhealthy change in our biochemistry. For them, healing is about finding where the body chemistry is out of kilter and correcting it by introducing some substance whose chemical properties bring about the healing.

Nowadays its usually drugs, but traditionally, healing substances have come from nature. Herbs, for instance, can be taken in their natural state, made into tinctures, tablets etc or smoked.

Natural healing substances


Water’s healing properties too have long been recognised. One should drink sufficient to maintain the body’s healthy functioning. A useful guide is 1/30 of ones body weight in kg expressed in litres. For instance, a 60 kg person 2 litres of water a day and a 75 kg person 2½ litres. Fruit juices and herb teas count, but not animal milk, carbonated drinks or beer.

Diet too is vital. Diet has a huge impact on health; a change of diet can restore health. The Greek philosopher Hippocrates wisely advised us to let our food be our medicine and our medicine be our food, advice that should never be ignored. That’s why many people take supplements to ensure they get the right amount of vitamins and minerals.

Food with high water content, grown outdoors in sunlight, is healthiest. Our system is designed to bring light to the organs. When observed under the microscope, light, natural wholefoods are seen to emit more light than processed foods.

Healthy diets also eliminate or at least minimise hidden toxins (chemical preservatives, colourings, refined starches and sugars, heavy metals, flavourings, etc.). Toxins, especially heavy metals, block biochemical functions. They are stored mainly in fat cells and can be tackled through detox regimes.

Also many people have to watch their diet due to food allergies (a modern ailment?).

Pharmaceutical Drugs

Today we take our healing doses in concentrated form – i.e. drugs. Drugs are the conventional healing method in the West. Indeed, they are synonymous with modern medicine. They come to us thanks to the same industrial chemical conglomerates and the same type of thinking that brings us pesticides, chemical fertilisers, weedkillers and genetically modified tomatoes.

Originally most drugs were simply highly concentrated forms of plant essences and other natural substances. Only recently have synthetic drugs been developed in laboratories and unleashed on the world. Biochemists try to isolate the active chemical ingredients in substances known to have healing properties and turn them into pills, liquids etc. to be ingested, rubbed on or injected. These include hormones. So pervasive has this approach become that drugs have become synonymous with mainstream western medicine.

And they work! Sometimes and for some people. With or without side effects. Some of the time.

Modern medicine

But isn’t it better to stick to natural methods wherever possible?

©David Lawrence Preston, 16.5.2016

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