“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food” declared Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine, centuries ago. Unfortunately, modern diets have a lot to answer for in many chronic ailments. Some are obvious, like obesity, heart disease and diabetes type 2, and some not so obvious, such as allergy, skin conditions, arthritis, or recurring infections.
Processed foods are generally high in calories and low in vitamins and phytonutrients. They contain many additives for taste and storage purposes that are relatively new to humanity, considering that it takes dozens of generations to evolve and adapt to change. Nutritional deficiency creates a void that can be taken up by toxic metals from our environment – for example, being deficient in zinc makes us more vulnerable to cadmium, a toxic metal present in diesel fuel. Nutritional deficiency impairs our ability to detoxify, which impacts on the health and function of our cells and organs. Furthermore, a lack of plant food starves our beneficial bowel bacteria which, science is learning, affects our health profoundly in several ways.
Eating well is very important. Phytonutrients are plant chemicals that support and promote our health in many ways. For example, the red, orange and yellow colours in fruit and vegetables have beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, which is necessary for strong immunity, helping the body resist infections like cold and flu. Vitamin A is also required for healthy sight, skin, hair, teeth and bones, stimulates the healthy growth of brain cells, improving concentration and brain function. And this is just one of the vitamins!
‘Eat a rainbow‘ – make sure you and your children eat something of each colour every day. Our bodies have evolved to expect a lot of plant food. Make 50% of your diet raw or simply cooked plant food. Daily protein and healthy fats, like avocado and oily fish are also important. Keep fried, processed food as an exception, and make healthy foods dominate your diet.