Food as Medicine – Really??

“Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food.”  Hippocrates

Many healthy vegetables

Was Hippocrates right when he made this bold statement?  Modern research is now starting to show us how right he really was.  In a recent lecture by Dr. Barry Sears, author of The Zone and many other nutritional books – it was stated that the food we eat can either be harmful to us, or it can be healing for us.


Inflammation is currently a serious and chronic problem in our society today.  As more research is done – it is being proven more and more that many of today’s common diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, are all associated with chronic inflammation in the body.  Inflammation is also a major cause of premature aging.

There are two types of inflammation. 

  1. Classic inflammation – has pain as its main symptom.
  2. Silent inflammation – has no pain and virtually no obvious symptoms (hence – silent).  Because there are almost no signs of silent inflammation – a person can have it for many years without even knowing it, and it can attack the body’s organs.  The good news about silent inflammation is that it can now be measured by medical testing.

Treatments for inflammation

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs are generally used to treat inflammation, and they work – but at what price? There are usually many side effects ranging from digestive system problems on the mild end of the spectrum, to death on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. 
  • FOOD.  Yes – food is a treatment! It can actually cause inflammation, or it can heal inflammation.

Lecture by Dr. Barry Sears

According to Dr. Barry Sears  – food can be the most powerful drug!  But how??  I’m so glad you asked…. Here is my very short, very condensed version of the main points from Dr. Sears lecture:

  • Food can either increase or decrease inflammation in the body, depending on what we eat.
  • Every time a person eats – macronutrients in the food react in the body to control hormonal responses, and hormones are many, many times more powerful than drugs.
  • There are 3 hormones directly affected by the food we eat:
    1. Insulin – stimulated by the carbs we eat; a storage hormone which makes a person fat and keeps them fat
    2. Glucagon – stimulated by the amount of protein in the diet; maintains stable blood sugar levels and releases stored energy
    3. Eicosanoids – a very necessary, important and complex hormone; master hormone that controls inflammation as well as your heart, brain and immune system; comes from the fat we consume in our diet; is 100% controlled by the food we eat!

How does inflammation occur in our bodies? 

There are three main contributing factors:

  1. a high intake of refined carbs, such as junk food, pastas and bagels creates high levels of insulin in our bodies
  2. excessive consumption of Omega 6 fatty acids, such as soybean oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil.  Some omega 6’s are necessary, but not an excessive amount.
  3. decreased consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids

There is a definite imbalance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acid consumption – too much Omega 6’s and not enough Omega 3’s.  The excessive intake of Omega 6’s reacts with high levels of insulin from the refined carbs to give us inflammation.

The good news!

There is a holistic solution, and as you already know – there are foods that can heal inflammation. The solution can be considered twofold:

1.  FOODS NOT TO EAT, because they increase inflammation:

  • refined carbs, processed foods, junk foods (including white pasta, bagels)
  • foods that are have a high glycemic load such as sugary foods, baked goods, soft drinks, sweetened juices, candy bars, white rice, bread, potatoes, etc. These foods digest very quickly and cause blood sugar to rise quickly, requiring the body to make excess insulin.
  • oils that are high in Omega 6 fatty acids such as corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil, trans fats. Avoid deep fried foods, processed foods and baked goods high in bad fats.

2. FOOD TO EAT, or what TO DO to decrease inflammation:

  • foods that have a low glycemic load such as whole fruits and vegetables, (especially brightly colored ones – think of the rainbow). These foods digest more slowly and will not cause the blood sugar to rise quickly, so the body will not have to produce excess insulin.
  • good carbohydrates (instead of refined carbs) such as fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored.
  • cold-water oily fish such as wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, and halibut
  • take a good Omega 3 fatty acid supplement daily such as a non-toxic omega 3 fish oil.  The amount varies per individual and also depends on the amount of inflammation a person has.
  • a consistent and sustainable (lifelong) dietary lifestyle that includes a balance of protein, good carbs and good fats.
  • 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. Each meal and snack needs to include some good quality protein and good quality carbs that contain fiber.

It is great to know there are ways we can help our body stay healthy and disease free for many, many years! Remember that an anti-inflammatory diet is also an anti-aging diet!

Are you interested in learning more about reducing or healing inflammation?  Ready to use food as your medicine?  If you answered YES to these questions – contact me. I’d love to have a more detailed conversation with you about how you can use food to live healthy vibrant lives, and look younger as you grow older!


Informational Resources:

Dr. Barry Sears Website

The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book by Jessica K. Black, N.D.


Copyright © 2012 Cathy Ormon – All Rights Reserved


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