“Let Food be Thy Medicine.” Hippocrates
Food can cure disease, relieve pain, heal injuries and help cancer patients.
There seems to be a food remedy for every ailment. Our ancestors swore by food remedies, and for good reason. Medicinal plants have worked wonders down the ages. Ancient Ayurveda, which uses herbs and food as medicine, is just one branch of healing—making a resurgence in the east and west—which focuses on the benefits of plants as treatment.
Science and modernity fashioned pharmacopeia after our ancestral traditions. The healing powers in nature’s gifts come in the form of roots, leaves, berries, beans, nuts, seeds and flowers, waters and juice… some or all parts can be used, and often for various ailments.
I recently came across an article entitled “The 12 Greatest Disease-Fighting Foods” from Rodale Wellness. Five of the disease-fighting foods listed captivated my attention:
5 Foods to Fight Disease
Addicted to coffee? In love with chocolate? That’s good. Caffeinated foods, including coffee, chocolate, and tea, have high levels of polyphenols, dubbed “super antioxidants” for their ability to fight everything from cancer to depression. A Harvard University study even found that drinking five cups of coffee daily cuts the risk of developing diabetes in half. That much coffee could give you the jitters, though, so most experts recommend limiting intake to two cups a day, or switching to decaf.
Though widely used as an effective antidote to queasiness, it can also keep cholesterol levels under control, lower blood pressure, and help ease the inflammation associated with arthritis. Researchers have also found that ginger helps kill the influenza virus, plus it helps the immune system fight infection. A study at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Miami found that ginger extract significantly reduced pain related to osteoarthritis of the knee.
Whether hot and spicy or sweet and crunchy, there are enough peppers out there to suit anyone’s taste, and they’re all equally healthy for you. Spicy chile peppers have high levels of capsaicin, which interferes with your mind’s pain receptors, and therefore act as natural painkillers. Capsaicin, which gives peppers their heat, has also been found to aid in weight loss by keeping your metabolism in check. Sweet peppers have a similar compound called dihydrocapsiate that comes without the spicy kick of capsaicin but with the same effects on pain and weight loss.
Pomegranates have been used for centuries in the Middle East, Iran, and India as a folk remedy, Duke writes, and for good reason. They’re a good source of potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants that ward off cancer. They could also help fight Alzheimer’s disease. Loma Linda University researchers discovered that mice that consumed pomegranate juice experienced 50 percent less brain degeneration than animals that drank sugar-water.
Few foods are better for your brain than walnuts. They’re a great source of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that curbs your appetite, as well as vitamin E, magnesium, folate, protein, and fiber. Walnuts boast more heart-healthy omega-3 fats than salmon, making them a good antidote to seasonal depression. This wonder nut is also packed with anti-inflammatory polyphenols.
A Word on Caffeinators
It doesn’t matter whether you go for coffee, tea or cocoa, they all contain the beneficial antioxidant, polyphenols. And the good news is that if you prefer—or need it—decaffeinated, studies suggest there are as many antioxidants in decaf versions as in the regular stuff. The only issue being the chemical processing for caffeine extraction, and pesticides used in growing. So, whenever possible, go for organic, naturally harvested and processed.
When it comes to chocolate, we all know by now that dark chocolate is a healthier option. Be sure to seek out varieties with the least sugar, or with sugar alternatives such as stevia, honey, maple syrup and molasses. As you grow accustomed to the authentic taste of things without insane amounts of sweeteners added, you will come to prefer it.