Food as Medicine

By Maia Bedson, Therapist
Living Well Magazine Summer 2014/15

These days it seems everywhere we turn we encounter articles and advertising urging us to consume supplements in the form of vitamins, minerals, herbs or ‘superfoods’.

While it is sensible to consider supplementation in the case of serious deficiencies – for example many people are low in vitamin D due to lack of sunlight – this is best done after first testing of levels.

It also seems as though some health professionals are being trained primarily in supplementation rather than the use of real food as the primary tool of healing the body. We hear from people coming to our programs of the stress they feel just trying to keep up with the many different types of supplements they have been prescribed, not to mention the financial outlay. It‘s too simplistic to assume that the individual nutrients that have so far been identified in food (not to mention all the other components that have not yet been named) act alone in a mechanical fashion (such as calcium for strong bones or vitamin C for colds) and that they can be copied in a synthetic form, put in a pill or capsule and act the same way as food nutrients.

This is sometimes referred to as the reductionist theory where the food itself is not considered important, only the nutrients contained in the food. Whereas in the wholism paradigm, scientists describe how an apple, for example, does a lot more inside our bodies than if all the known apple nutrients were taken in a pill.

What more and more research and clinical evidence is showing (and in particular the widely-published and reviewed work by Professor Colin Campbell, Dr John McDougall, Dr Neal Barnard and Dr Dean Ornish to name a few) is that a wholefoods, plant-based diet is both protective and curative when it comes to many lifestyle health issues. This is based in part on the synergistic effect of the macro and micro-nutrients, known and unknown, as well as our digestive, absorption and metabolic pathways.

We believe, and our experience shows, that plant-based wholefoods are a form of medicine and can heal and nourish our body, improve our state of mind and emotions and increase our vitality and enjoyment of life.

We suggest making wholefoods the main event in your commitment to good health and healing, followed by freshly prepared vegetable juices – with supplements a distant third choice as required.

Here is the wisdom of an old Zen blessing: “In this plate of food, I see the entire universe supporting my existence.”