The Healing Powers of Food: Let Food Be Your Medicine

“Let Food be thy medicine”

Have you ever heard of this statement and you went like, how now?  How will food help my child when he has something stuck in his ears, or my eyes when I cannot see well, or when I cannot conceive? No, this statement is intense, and its meaning goes way deeper than its words.

It’s important to note that diet cannot entirely replace medications, at least not for all medical conditions. 

At the same time it’s important to note that in other conditions, diet can totally help a big deal in preventing the need for medicine, if not completely then to a greater extent.

We are living in a time when diseases are so many, some even have no designated medication,

We are talking about nutrition and diet because one of the main causes of these diseases is the great change in food choices, and in this case, we can talk about certain cancers, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

Nutrition and diet start all the way from our food choices, modes of cooking, ingestion, and digestion up to the utilization of these nutrients by our body cells.

Let’s a brief talk about these diseases;

Type 2 Diabetes and its complications.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that simply means your blood sugar levels are elevated beyond the normal ranges(usually because of insulin resistance).

Having consistently high levels of blood sugar predisposes you to many diabetic complications like nerve damage, kidney damage, eye problems, and diabetic foot amongst other life-threatening conditions.

The diabetic-modified diet ensures that you don’t have to get to the extreme of developing these diabetes complications, and even better reduce the amount of dosage you are on for the management of diabetes.

In this case, we are talking about strictly following the modified diabetic diet recommendations;

  1. Portions control, to keep the blood sugar levels within the normal range ( using the plate method, hand portion guide, the glycemic index, carb counting, and food groups and servings.)
  2. Small frequent meals, at least 3 main meals, and a healthy snack in between. (To prevent hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.)
  3. Selecting more Fruits(with a lower glycemic index), Vegetables, Whole grains, and Legumes, such as beans and peas, and Low-fat dairy products, such as milk and cheese.
  4. Enough hydration of about 8 glasses of water every day.
  5. Physical activity increases blood flow and utilization of glucose by the cells.

You’ll realize that taking these steps quite seriously will save you a big deal. And I can assure you, it’s not difficult and you will eventually be on the safer side.

Hypertension – High blood pressure.

When you start to feel constant chest pains, headaches, shortness of breath, and sometimes even nose bleeding, you may need to get your blood pressure checked.

The causes of high blood pressure could range from stress, depression, and anxiety to diabetes mellitus, pregnancy, and vigorous exercises.

High blood pressure is manageable, but constantly elevated blood pressure can lead to heart diseases, heart attacks, and even stroke(when blood doesn’t get to your brain).

Aside from being on antihypertensive medications, you may need to adjust your diet to a DASH( dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet. Which encourages

  1. Plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in potassium help negate the effects of sodium in elevating blood pressure. Also, fiber helps keep your weight in check as being overweight or obese is also a risk factor for developing high blood pressure.
  2. Whole grains and legumes like brown rice, wheat, lentils, and beans are also good sources of dietary fibre and they provide enough nutrients without introducing too many unwanted fats.
  3. Lean proteins like chicken (without skin) and fish so much preferred, unlike red meats that may have too much saturated fats.

Avocados and bananas can be very good sources of potassium. And you need that to help in managing blood pressure. 

When your blood pressure is in normal ranges, I doubt you’ll need that much medication.Blood pressure is (the pressure exerted on the blood vessels as blood passes through them.) So eating foods with lots of saturated fats like fries, deep-fried foods, and red meats may lead to thinning of these blood vessels hence raising your blood pressure.

This is why you will stop:

  • Adding salt to already cooked food.
  • Alcohol, as too much of it, will raise your blood pressure, damage your liver and bring in CKD.
  • Added sugars may lead to unnecessary weight gain making it hard to manage your blood pressure.
  • Canned foods may contain lots of sodium in the form of preservatives.
  • Processed foods may contain lots of added fats, sugar, and salts which are unnecessary.

Adopting a DASH diet is the 1st step to getting your blood pressure under control.

 Cancer and Nutrition.

Cancer is a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth with the potential of invading and spreading to other organs of the body. 

Usually, cancer affects the Nutritional status of a person very fast, and it can easily lead to Malnutrition in this case due to poor diet, digestion problems, poor absorption of nutrients, and loss of nutrients.

Most patients with cancers that affect the GIT (gastrointestinal tract) may be affected the most, but cancer patients on chemotherapy may develop certain side effects such as diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and mouth sores which can speedily lead to wasting, being Underweight, and micronutrient deficiencies.

  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Hypothermia
  • Increased infections
  • Loss of fat
  • Depression
  • Delayed wound healing

These are just more of the symptoms of Malnutrition in most cancer patients.

We don’t want to get cancer patients into that state, that is why it’s very important to maintain good nutrition before, during, and after chemotherapy, and even when on other kinds of treatment for cancer.

So why is nutrition important for cancer patients?

  1. You increase your energy stores and therefore have less risk of wasting.
  2. It makes it easier for your body to fight infections.
  3. You can maintain a healthy weight and the body’s nutrients stored.
  4. You better tolerate the treatment.
  5. Lower risk of infections.
  6. You heal and recover fast, especially wound healing in cases of surgery.

Generally, by maintaining good nutrition you may be able to actually slow down the growth of many cancers and also prevent dying from the tumor.

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