“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates
For years, I have lamented the fact that doctors get very little, if any, nutritional training in their medical school classes. My own efforts to be current in this very important field of nutrition led me to become a Certified Nutrition Specialist several years ago. I have felt as though I am swimming upstream, against a strong current filled with tree branches and mud, as I have championed using nutrition as a first choice therapeutic tool.
But I am encouraged! Why? On March 15th 2014, an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “A Delicious Prescription.”
Doctors and chefs, along with dietitians and nutritionists, health care practitioners and educators are meeting together in Napa Valley, California, to discuss food and its impact on health. At the present time, this effort is brought about from the allopathic medicine perspective, but it represents a major leap into the world of nutrition, which has largely been ignored in Western medicine.
A large full-page picture spread of good foods and their benefits are part of the article. Some even go against the grain of prevailing medical philosophy. Here are some highlights:
- anchovies with omega 3 fatty acids and selenium; low in mercury;
- avocados with monounsaturated fat, potassium, vitamins C and K and folate;
- eggs as a source of iron, protein, vitamins A and B and folate (notice they left out cholesterol and fats!–which caused eggs to be mislabeled as a “bad” food for years);
- grass-fed beef with vitamins B and iron;
- wild salmon with protein, vitamins B and D and omega 3s;
- olive oil with monounsaturated fat.
- organic chicken with vitamin B6, iron and protein and omega 3;
- nuts with protein, magnesium and monounsaturated fat;
- seeds with folate, fiber, protein and zinc.
- carrots with vitamin A, fiber and beta-carotene;
- dark leafy greens with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, calcium, sulforaphanes and folate;
- parsley with folate and potassium and vitamins A and C;
- squash with beta-carotene and other antioxidants and fiber and vitamin A;
- cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts) with fiber, vitains C, E D and folate;
- green beans with fiber and regulate blood sugar;
- onions and garlic with sulfur and folate.
- berries with polyphenols and fiber, vitamin C and potassium,
- coconut with calcium, potassium, magnesium and electrolytes;
- stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines cherries, apricots) with vitamins C and K, potassium and beta-carotene.
- wheat and
- wild rice with fiber.
Mushrooms with minerals and vitamins B and D.
You might want to place a copy of this list of magical foods in your kitchen to inspire their use in meals you prepare.
Getting in the Swim of Things
With the Wall Street Journal article, I am seeing conventional allopathic medicine start to catch up to the science of nutritional medicine. (They now have ‘pharmaceuticals’ for fish oil, vitamin D, eye antioxidants, and folate, which are no better than a high-grade supplement but much more expensive).
If this nutritional trend continues, I might begin to feel as though I’ve joined a pool party! No more swimming against the current in a muddy, tricky river. But even this venture into previously uncharted waters is merely dipping conventional medicine’s toe into the pool.
However, my assessment of this ‘big toe in the swimming pool’ of food and health is guarded. Dr. Harlan is quoted in the article as saying, “Make no mistake. I am an allopathic physician. I do not believe in anything other than evidence-based medicine. As an internist, I prescribe statins and beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors and aspirin. I believe in them and they have a role. Diet alone is very good. Medication alone is very good. But diet plus medication is synergistic. It’s another tool in the box that physicians should have available to them.”
I’m really looking forward to the day when not only the big toe or foot is in the science-based nutritional swimming pool, but allopathic medicine takes a giant leap forward. Maybe in my lifetime, their whole body will jump in and harness the power of nutrition to address health and disease prevention and treatment. I certainly hope so. In the meantime, we can all show them the difference it makes to eat wisely, and healthfully.
To your dynamic health and energy!