As a Nutritional Therapist there are several founding principles which define my profession. But the one which has always resonated with me the most and the one which I advise my clients to follow is the concept of food as medicine.
Food is fuel for our body and we need this fuel for every cell in our body to function. However, if the fuel we provide ourselves with is inadequate, lacking in nutrients or promotes inflammation, it is easy to see how this has a detrimental effect on our health.
When food is at its most powerful, it has the ability to nourish our bodies and promote wellness. The ‘medicine’ our body needs are the nutrients, vitamin, minerals and antioxidants contained in our foods, many of which are essential – meaning our body can’t make these ourselves. We need to ingest them for our body to use.
So how can we do this?
Increase Your Portions of Fruit and Vegetables
By making vegetables and fruit the foundation of our diet, we are providing our body with some of the most important medicine it needs – vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Our bodies rely on the foods we give it to get these vital nutrients – B vitamins for energy, Calcium for bone health, Vitamin C for antioxidants, Magnesium for muscle and nerve function and folate (folic acid) to help our bodies detoxify and synethise our DNA. Dark green leafy vegetables such as Kale and brassicas such as Broccoli in particular pack a power punch when it comes to nutrients, so be sure to include these everyday.
Get Enough Protein
Our bodies use protein as the building blocks for many things, from creating hormones to building muscle. So getting enough protein in our diet is key to our body functioning properly. Great sources of proteins are oily fish, free-range chicken, organic free-range eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and pulses. Protein also takes longer to breakdown in our bodies, so it is turned into fuel more slowly and steadily. This provides our body with a steady stream of energy rather than the quick hit and sudden low of simple refined carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. Overloading our bodies with too many carbohydrates and sugars leads to constant spikes in our blood sugar, causing many negative inflammatory effects on the body.
The brain needs fats to function properly, our nerves need fat to keep them working and the membrane of our cells rely on fat to keep them supple so that information can get in and out more easily. However, we need to make sure we are getting the right type of fats, which include Omega 3 fatty acids and avoid trans and hydrogenated fats found in processed foods. Great sources include oily fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil, nuts & seeds and avocados.
When we help our bodies get the nutrients it needs to work in the environment we live in – one that is often stressful, demanding and busy, we are providing it with the best of nature’s medicine.