Healing With Nutrition

It is a truth that no one can deny; food can harm and food can heal. Food can create health and food can create disease. Everyone knows the saying from Hippocrates, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” The quote offers no explanation or evidence for the suggestion, yet we still quote him over one thousand years later. You see, our bodies are built from what we absorb through our intestinal wall, and that means that every cell in our body is composed of recomposed molecules derived from the food we put into our mouths.

Every person knows this in the deepest part of themselves, which is why no one ever questions Hippocrates’ famous saying. “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” I hope that you will hold this idea in your heart as you read my 4 Tips for Nutritional Healing.

1. Hydrate Upon Waking.

While water isn’t technically a food, it is an important factor in our metabolic processes and our digestion. Proper hydration aids in the digestion and assimilation of foods and the transport of molecules throughout the body. It also flushes waste out of the body. And because we not only want food to go in, but the waste products from the digestion and absorption of that food to come out, proper hydration is vital. Properly filtered water and fresh spring water are good options for hydration. However, there are a few more tasty and delightful options. I’ve put together a short list of some hydrating beverages that also provide additional nutritional benefits. I’m all about getting twice the benefit from a single effort!

Herbal Teas like peppermint, ginger, dandelion, nettle and herbal blends offer various minerals as well as antioxidant properties.

Green Juice is made by a juicer machine that will separate a vegetable or fruit into fiber and water. Many of the nutrients come out into the water, making it a great source of antioxidants, minerals, natural sugars and vitamins. Some people say that this water is more hydrating than tap or bottled water because it is raw and living which means it has a slightly different molecular structure and fewer inorganic minerals.

Lemon Water is a quick and easy hydration option. Adding a squeeze of lemon to water gives an extra boost of vitamin c and has been said to assist the liver with detoxification.

Raw Organic Coconut Water is a natural electrolyte drink containing about 770mg of potassium per 11.7 oz serving and 37 mg of sodium (according to the nutrition label on my coconut water). Because coconut water is not man made, it also contains many of the natural co-nutrients that our bodies need to rehydrate fully. Certified organic and raw coconut water is available online to be shipped frozen to your home.

2. Eat More Leafy Green Vegetables

Yes, I’m going to tell you to eat your greens! But I’m not talking about broccoli or green beans. I’m talking about the mother of all greens, the pungent, dark, bitter, and powerfully nutritious leafy greens! These are just a few: kale, parsley, sorrel, cilantro, mustard greens, chard, collards, romaine, spinach, arugula, watercress, mint, basil, beet greens, turnip greens, and dandelion greens. If you haven’t heard of half of these, get yourself to a grocery store and start perusing the produce aisle! Then, get yourself to a farm market, for goodness sake! There are so many delicious salads and green juices to be made from these greens. One of my favorite is a combination of spinach, basil and mint with honey mustard dressing. Just for the sake of brainstorming, on a daily basis you could get greens into your diet through green juice, salads, green smoothies, steamed or sautéed with a little sea salt and butter, or added to soups. Enjoy!

3. Consume More Raw Probiotic Foods

Probiotic foods are referred to by a few different names, like cultured vegetables, lacto-fermented beverages, fermented foods, and include such tasty treats as sauerkraut, kim chee, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, amasai and kvass. Each one of these foods has a long history of use by traditional cultures all over the world. Probiotic foods are beneficial for three main reasons: the fermentation process gives them a long shelf life, so they were used as a source of nutrition in the long winter months, they provide beneficial bacteria and yeast to aid with digestion and immunity and due to the fermentation process they contain more nutrition than their unfermented counterparts.

Sauerkraut is a traditional European fermented food made by shredding, salting and packing cabbage into a ceramic crock and letting it sit in a cold space for weeks and up to a few months. In her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon explains that “salt inhibits putrefying bacteria for several days while enough lactic acid is produced [by lactobacilli varieties] to preserve the vegetables for several months.” The process of fermentation creates b vitamins and various organic acids that keep the ph of the gut in balance. Sauerkraut has a long shelf life and because cabbage contains vitamin c, it was considered a food staple on long voyages across the ocean to prevent scurvy when fresh fruits would be unavailable.

Sally Fallon muses in Nourishing Traditions, “Could it be that in abandoning the ancient practice of lacto-fermentation and in our insistence on a diet in which everything has been pasteurized, we have compromised the health of our intestinal flora and made ourselves vulnerable to legions of pathogenic microorganisms?” Thankfully, fermented foods are becoming more widely available in health food stores and through farm coops. For more information on making them yourself, check out these helpful books: The Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

4. Consume More Nutrient Dense Superfoods

“Superfood” has become a trendy term recently and it seems that every food company is trying to tout their food product as the most important superfood. I first heard the term from David Wolfe. He states in his book entitled Superfoods, “Superfoods are both a food and a medicine; they have elements of both. They are a class of the most potent, super-concentrated, and nutrient-rich foods on the planet [and] they have more bang for the buck than our usual foods. Superfoods allow us to get more nutrition with less eating.” A few examples of superfoods include: chlorella, aloe, maca, bee pollen, royal jelly, camu camu berry, marine phytoplankton, hemp seeds and seaweed.

The nutrient content of some of these foods is quite impressive. For example, David Wolfe lists the nutrients found in camu camu berry: “calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, the amino acids serine, valine, and leucine, as well as small amounts of the vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.” Duke University ranked hundreds of botanicals in order of their effectiveness for various health conditions. Camu Camu berry was ranked the number one botanical for colds and the number six antiviral botanical.

5. Don’t Fear the Fat

We all know that we should be eating the “healthy fats” for more energy, weight loss and heart health. However, I believe that we all still have a deep seated fear of fat instilled in us from a lifetime of input from misguided news media, physicians and weight loss programs. First of all, let me give my definition of a healthy fat. A healthy fat is one that has a long (more than a few thousand years) history of use in the human diet. Unrefined coconut, olive and sesame oils are the most familiar oils in our modern diet that have ancient historical uses. Coconut oil has been used by tropical cultures for centuries and is composed of medium chain fatty acids, which have the same molecular structure as the fatty acids found in human breast milk. This kind of fat feeds our metabolism and immune system efficiently and effectively. According to Wikipedia, “the first recorded olive oil extraction is known from the Hebrew Bible and took place during the Exodus from Egypt, during the 13th century BC.”

Sesame oil is a seed oil and seed oils typically don’t hold up to time and oxygen very well however, “the high vitamin E and antioxidant content in sesame seed oil makes it resistant to rancidity,” according to Sally Fallon Morell in her book Nourishing Traditions. Newer oils like vegetable oils blends, soy, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed and canola as well as refined versions of the healthy oils, like refined coconut oil are said to be rancid and oxidized by the time they hit the grocery store shelf because they do not hold up well to oxidation during the extraction process. There is a reason that we as humans did not try to extract these oils back when health was more important than money!

Ghee, butter and (gasp!) lard are the other fats that have a long standing place in the human diet. Traditional cultures would collect butter fat from cows or goats in the summer to eat during the winter months. Now we know that this was a source of vitamin d for them when the sun was scarce.

It seems to me that the very diseases that are blamed on these traditional fats, like heart disease, have only increased to alarming levels in the past century. This increase in disease coincides with the decrease in consumption of some of these fats including lard and butter and the increase in consumption of oils like canola, soy, grapeseed, sunflower and safflower. We need fat for many essential biological processes in the body including but not limited to: cell membrane function and cell membrane structural integrity, feeding the brain and the body for long-lasting energy and providing building blocks for immune cells, hormones and a healthy functioning nervous system.

May you be blessed with good food and good health always! Bon Appétit!

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