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Let Food Be Thy Medicine...

Health Gem 9/24/2021

And thy medicine be thy food!! This statement is attributed to Hippocrates. But no one seems to have concrete evidence that he actually said it. But it would seem very plausible being that it is completely in line with the Hippocratic philosophy.

The Bible does not mention medicine, but it does talk about food and life. Let's examine this text:

Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Upon entrance of sin into the world through Adam & Eve the Tree of Life could no longer remain. God said in Genesis 3:22-24:

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

One tree provided the blessing of life from God, the other tree provided death as a result of disobedience. Therefore the blessing of the tree of life had to be removed, as mankind now bore the stain of sin.

It stands to reason then if we desire our bodies to be as healthy as possible that we should then eat those foods which would provide our bodies the most life giving nutrients to fight off bacteria and viruses. But what about heart disease and cancers? Is there any thing we can do about those? Wouldn't it be wonderful to not have to use drug medication, with all the possible side effects that may come along with it, that may cause more difficulty than the original conditions?

In the last post the book How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger, was introduced. This is such an intriguing title, don't you think? Doesn't everyone want to know how not to die? Here is part of the preface of his book explaining his reasons for getting into medicine:

"I was only a kid when the doctors sent her home in a wheelchair to die. Diagnosed with end-stage heart disease, she had already had so many bypass operations that the surgeons essentially ran out of plumbing -- the scarring from each heart surgery had made the next more difficult until they finally ran out of options. Confined to a wheelchair with crushing chest pain, her doctors told her there was nothing else they could do. Her life was over at age sixty-five.

I think what sparks many kids to want to become doctors when they grow up is watching a beloved relative become ill or even die. But for me, it was watching my grandma get better.

Soon after she was discharged from the hospital to spend her last days at home, a segment aired on 60 Minutes about Nathan Pritikin, an early lifestyle medicine pioneer who had been gaining a reputation for reversing terminal heart disease. He had just opened a new center in California, and my grand-mother, in desperation, somehow made the cross-country trek to become one of its first patients. This was a live-in program where everyone was placed on a plant-based diet and then started on a graded exercise regimen. They wheeled my grandmother in, and she walked out.

I'll never forget that.

She was even featured in Pritikin's biography Pritikin: The Man Who Healed America's Heart. My grandma was described as one of the "death's door people":

Frances Greger, from North Miami, Florida, arrived in Santa Barbara at one of Pritikin's early sessions in a wheelchair. Mrs. Greger had heart disease, angina, and claudication; her condition was so bad she could no longer walk without great pain in her chest and legs.

When I was a kid, that was all that mattered: I got to play with Grandma again. But over the years, I grew to understand the significance of what had happened. At that time, the medical profession didn't even think it was possible to reverse heart disease. Drugs were given to try to slow the progression, and surgery was performed to circumvent clogged arteries to try to relieve symptoms, but the disease was expected to get worse and worse until you died. Now, however, we know that as soon as we stop eating and artery-clogging diet, our bodies can start healing themselves, in many cases opening up arteries without drugs or surgery.

My grandma was given her medical death sentence at age sixty-five. Thanks to a healthy diet and lifestyle, she was able to enjoy another thirty-one years on this earth with her six grandchildren. The woman who was once told by doctors she only had weeks to live didn't die until she was ninety-six years old. Her near-miraculous recovery not only inspired one of those grandkids to pursue a career in medicine but granted her enough healthy years to see him graduate from medical school."

Here we have testimony of someone whose food was their medicine and their medicine was their food! She was able to change her health and add years to her life through changing her diet and lifestyle. It is possible and how inspiring this is. Many people would argue though that this is just one persons experience. This was not science. Very well then, let us see if there is any science that might support this experience.

In the article "The Power of a Plant Based Diet for Heart Health" on are shared the results of several studies and some tips:

"Can you really improve your heart health by eating more plant-based foods? Research says yes. Resoundingly. So maybe it's time to start looking at all that colorful produce piled in bins at your local store as delicious medicine for your heart.

Investigators have studied the relationship between plant-based food intake and various ailments in many, many studies. Spoiler alert: Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains wins. These are just a few key research findings:

  • High cholesterol. Reviewing 11 different studies, researchers concluded that plant-based diets helped people significantly improve both their cholesterol level and weight.

  • High blood pressure. In another study, people who ate more fruit had a lower risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure). In particular, eating blueberries, apples, pears, raisins and grapes all had a beneficial impact on blood pressure.

  • Cardiovascular disease. Researchers compiled the findings of 95 different studies and concluded: Eating more fruits and vegetables daily reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Apples, pears, citrus fruits and leafy greens all helped heart health.

  • Chronic heart disease. One large study found that people who ate more vegetables had a smaller risk of chronic heart disease; in fact, the more veggies they ate, the more their risk went down.

Switching up a carb, sugar and protein-heavy diet to one that's rich in plant-based foods takes initiative and planning. But resolving to do better for your heart is a great first step.

"Most of us don't eat enough plant food, which is so important for heart health," says Jason Ewoldt, R.D.N.,L.D., a wellness dietitian at Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. And, in a plant-based diet, Ewoldt says, you can eat virtually unlimited amounts of fresh or frozen fruits and veggies. Whole grains, legumes (beans), healthy oils, seeds and nuts round out a plant-based diet.

Ewoldt offers some pro tips to help you get your diet on the right track for heart health.

  1. Don't set yourself up for failure. Determined to eat more plant-based foods? Great. But rushing to the store with good intentions isn't the answer. All that produce you load into your cart will probably be spoiling in your fridge a week later.

  2. Make a weekly meal plan, then shop. Your plan should include incremental change. If you eat only, say, a vegetable with dinner, begin by adding a second serving — how about fruit with breakfast? Once you've established that routine, add a third serving, maybe a salad at lunch. If you make the plan, you're more likely to stick to it.

  3. Get creative with prep. Steam, broil, roast, blend, saute: It's chef's choice here. So mix up a smoothie, simmer some soup or toss a salad — it all counts.

  4. Use the stealth approach. Sneak extra veggies into salads, soups and casseroles; add berries and other fruit to whole-grain breakfast cereals, salads and snacks. You'll improve your health and you won't even know it.

Your resolve matters. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans. So why not use the natural preventive power of plant-based foods to protect your heart from hurt?"

Wonderful! Here is evidence that poor heart health can be dramatically affected and possibly reversed. No promises will be made though, because God alone is the great healer. And anything we do should be accompanied by prayer. But results of studies show that it is possible. So what about cancer? Surely you don't think...cancer? What does the evidence show?

First, here is another chart representing the daily dozen, that Dr. Greger recommends. This is a very useful tool in helping people choose the most balanced diet and receive the needed nutrients vital for optimum health. This chart gives a bit more detail of what types of food make up each category. Variety in foods is very important to getting all of the nutrients we need.

Now back to cancer. Dr. Greger mentions in his book, a couple of families of food that research has found to be very strong cancer fighters. One can be seen on the chart above, cruciferous vegetables. The other family is the Allium family.

The cruciferous vegetable family as you can see includes:

Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale (etc.)

One lab study published on stated these findings about cruciferous vegetables:

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source.

In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of cruciferous vegetables.

During food preparation, chewing, and digestion, the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates (1). Indole-3-carbinol (an indole) and sulforaphane (an isothiocyanate) have been most frequently examined for their anticancer effects.

Indoles and isothiocyanates have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in several organs in rats and mice, including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung, and stomach (2, 3). Studies in animals and experiments with cells grown in the laboratory have identified several potential ways in which these compounds may help prevent cancer:

  • They help protect cells from DNA damage.

  • They help inactivate carcinogens.

  • They have antiviral and antibacterial effects.

  • They have anti-inflammatory effects.

  • They induce cell death (apoptosis).

  • They inhibit tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and tumor cell migration (needed for metastasis)

Allium is the Latin word for ... Garlic! Members of the Allium family include:

Garlic, Onion, Scallion, Shallots, Leeks and Chives

A study posted on states that these vegetables can reduce the risk of some cancers:

"The Allium genus includes approximately 500 species. Commonly used allium vegetables include garlic, onion, leeks, chives, scallions which are used all over the world in different delicacies. Some allium vegetables have been employed for millenia in the traditional medical practice to treat cardiovascular diseases. They have been shown to have applications as antimicrobial, antithrombotic, antitumor, hypolipidaemic, antiarthritic and hypoglycemic agents. In recent years, extensive research has focused on the anticarcinogenic potential of allium vegetables and their constituents, viz., allylsulfides and flavonoids (particularly quercetin which is present abundantly in onion). Epidemiological studies have shown that higher intake of allium products is associated with reduced risk of several types of cancers. These epidemiological findings are well correlated with laboratory investigations."

A study of cruciferous and Allium vegetable was published on and included this statement:

These results thus indicate that vegetables have very different inhibitory activities towards cancer cells and that the inclusion of cruciferous and Allium vegetables in the diet is essential for effective dietary-based chemopreventive strategies.

Dr. Greger includes the following statement, in the section about cancer fighting vegetables, from another study which found that:

"Five vegetables cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green onion, leek and garlic, "abolished" cancer growth completely, stopping breast tumor cells dead in their tracks."

That is a powerful statement!

(This picture has not been doctored! These are the 4 beautiful colors of cauliflower!)

In the following video, the vegetables most effective in fighting multiple types of cancer are highlighted. Can you guess which one came in #1???

Garlic is the #1 cancer fighter!

Wow! Who knew that delicious little vegetable that we add to bread and soups and SO many dishes, is able to help us fight against cancer!

One Christian author wrote in the book Ministry of Healing:

Our bodies are built up from the food we eat. There is a constant breaking down of the tissues of the body; every movement of every organ involves waste, and this waste is repaired from our food. Each organ of the body requires its share of nutrition. The brain must be supplied with its portion; the bones, muscles, and nerves demand theirs. It is a wonderful process that transforms the food into blood and uses this blood to build up the varied parts of the body; but this process is going on continually, supplying with life and strength each nerve, muscle, and tissue. MH 295

Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in as simple and natural a manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing. They impart a strength, a power of endurance, and a vigor of intellect that are not afforded by a more complex and stimulating diet. MH 296.1

Now is eating a plant based diet a guarantee that you will not ever be sick again? No! But a wise man recently remarked, "Changing the faulty tires on my car does not guarantee I will not have an accident, but it greatly improves my chances!" Wouldn't you want to improve your chances? If you knew that removing certain foods from your diet would possibly improve your health and longevity, would you not want to do so?

Praise God for His goodness and mercy in creating many different foods, that our bodies can use to combat the dreadful diseases that entered this world after sin. What blessings can be His natural remedies and foods, to body, mind and spirit, IF we will choose to let our food be our medicine and our medicine be our food!

**These are beneficial health suggestions. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This is not a substitute for speaking with your health professional.

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