Food as Medicine

You’ve heard that eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you lose weight, increase your energy, and reduce your risk of disease. But did you know that some foods have such strong healing properties that you can use them as you would medicine? And that these foods don’t have the negative side effects of man–made medications? Relying on medicinal foods to combat health problems such as stomachaches, headaches, chronic pain, fatigue, colds, fevers, sore throats, sinus problems, constipation, diarrhea, and many more, is not only effective against those individual problems, it also makes your body stronger and healthier than it was in the beginning. When you start to feel under the weather, make medicinal foods your first remedies, and you may not even need to resort to medications.

Ten Great Medicinal Foods

1. Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans, which can be dissolved into hot water to make a salty and flavorful broth. Miso broth can be used to flavor a soup or just drunk by itself. It has a warming and grounding effect (due to salt and the long aging process), and contains beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes (the result of fermentation). Miso’s digestion–enhancing properties help relieve stomachaches, inflammatory bowel and intestinal pain, constipation, and diarrhea. Because it is so warming, it is effective against colds and congestion. Its grounding nature can help reduce headaches from ice cream, sugar and alcohol, and it helps to calm down nervous and anxious people.

2. Brown Rice is a whole grain that contains an excellent balance of complex carbohydrates, nutrients, and fiber. It is the perfect food for getting back on track when you haven’t been eating well, whether you’ve been having too much sugar, fried food, meat and dairy or whether you’ve been missing meals and haven’t eaten enough. When you really need to make up for a week’s worth of poor food choices, go with a bowl of brown rice and you will feel so much better afterwards. Even better, eat it fairly regularly and you won’t find yourself in that position!

3. Garlic is, strictly speaking, an herb, but as a widely–used culinary herb I think it’s almost a food. Garlic is a very powerful antibacterial and antifungal agent. If you are starting to come down with any kind of virus or bacteria–related illness, even if it’s just a simple cold, garlic can help immensely. Garlic also breaks up congestion and helps us detoxify. It is most effective when eaten raw. If you do choose to eat it raw, you will undoubtedly experience a burning sensation in the mouth, a tearing up of the eyes, and a general feeling of being on fire. What you’re feeling is the sulfuric compounds in the garlic doing their work. Even though it’s a little unpleasant, it doesn’t last long and is far better than being sick for three or four days. If raw garlic is too much for you, though, simply increase your consumption of cooked garlic.

4. Leafy green vegetables, or Greens, are everyday foods that nevertheless have strong healing powers. Their high fiber and nutrient content make them very effective in healing any digestive problems (such as stomachaches, constipation, diarrhea), and they have been showing to have a very healing effect on the lungs and sinuses. Eat them to help reduce stuffy noses, coughing, sneezing, and mucus discharge. Greens also help reduce the fatigue that is a result of malnutrition. Usually when we get malnourished it’s a result of eating foods like white sugar and white flour that contain no nutrients and use up the nutrients we do have stored in our bodies. So eat greens as a way to recover from these foods.

5. Raw Sauerkraut is simply fermented cabbage that has not been pasteurized. Pasteurization kills the beneficial bacteria that make sauerkraut as healthy as it is. These bacteria populate the digestive tract, and help us digest heavier foods such as meat and fat, thus reducing stomachaches, ulcers, heartburn and all digestive health problems. They also eliminate candida and other parasites, bad bacteria and fungi. Raw sauerkraut contains, in addition to bacteria, enzymes that aid the pancreas and reduce or eliminate pancreatitis.

6. Ginger is a root that is commonly eaten in its powdered form, as a spice, but can be purchased fresh and whole. Like many other healing foods, it relieves gastrointestinal pain, reduces or eliminates gas and bloating, and reduces symptoms of motion sickness such as dizziness, nausea and sweating. Like miso, it is very grounding and will help you recover from too much alcohol, sugar, and white flour. Ginger’s anti–inflammatory effects also reduce pain and swelling from arthritis.

7. Raw Vinegar is a remarkably versatile healing food that has been shown to help with low energy, chronic pain (from anywhere in the body—back pain, arthritic pain, eye pain, joint pain, etc), colds, sore throats, infections, type 2 diabetes, and more. The reason for this is because the acids in vinegar are highly effective at promoting liver function. The liver is what controls the detoxifying and cleansing process in our bodies, and many of the symptoms that we feel, especially symptoms of pain, are a result of the struggle to detoxify. Vinegar is sort of like a power food that kicks the liver into gear and encourages rapid detoxification. However, do not rely on it for your health—first and foremost, eat a balanced diet and try not to build up toxicity in the first place. Note that the raw vinegar you purchase should be listed as “unpasteurized,” “organic,” and “unfiltered.” The commonly available distilled white vinegar does not have the same healing properties, due to the way it is processed.

8. Chicken Broth has had a reputation as a healing food since ancient Egypt. Why is it so effective? Broth made from boiling a whole chicken contains nutrients leached from cartilage, tendons and bones, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains glucosamine, which helps reduce arthritis (and is sold as an expensive supplement), and also has gelatin, which facilitates digestion, treats ulcers, improves joint health, and even helps treat infectious diseases. Chicken broth made with herbs and garlic is an especially warming, decongestant food that helps the immune system fight sickness.

9 & 10. Raw Milk and Raw Honey round out my list of medicinal foods. But rather than discuss them here, I’ve devoted an entire article to them—see below.

If you have any questions about how to employ these remedies, or have a specific health concern not mentioned here which you’d like to treat using medicinal foods, feel free to send me an email requesting more information.