Why is it so difficult to trust food as medicine? I’ve noticed in the food as medicine movement, opponents are very quick to say “where’s your research on that?” or “I need proof” before using food to treat disease. Even, dietitians who should be the experts in food as medicine make those statements. As if using food to treat a disease is not a viable option. Yet, we’ll gulp down pill after pill to “control” our medical problems without even asking for information or taking the time to really investigate the research related to the drugs we take. Most of the time, there’s not even a second thought given to the details surrounding that pill for blood pressure or diabetes, despite the real possibility of dangerous side effects. The doctor says to take a pill, so we take it. Why is that? If you really did your research, you would know that most drugs don’t have a very good track record when it comes to treating chronic diseases. They certainly don’t reverse your disease, and in some instances, like with the most popular drugs for Alzheimer’s, they actually accelerate your disease (See the meta-analysis from the Journal of the American Medical Association from November 2018). But, as a dietitian, I still have to justify telling someone to avoid sugar or add a multivitamin to help reverse an underlying disease process. What sense does that make? Perhaps using food as medicine is just too simplistic, maybe we don’t really believe it can work, or maybe it just seems too difficult to change our eating habits. Food as medicine is an inconvenient truth as Dr. David Perlmutter says. It’s certainly easier to just take a pill.
Food as medicine is a powerful, effective intervention and can prevent and reverse
chronic disease. No drug on the planet can make that claim or produce those results. When it comes to trusting food as medicine, the problem seems to be the nutrition research itself. It is inherently unreliable. After all, it’s difficult to complete well-designed randomized controlled trials when dealing with food. And studying just one component (like a single nutrient) for its benefit is not all that informative, since we normally eat foods that contain multiple nutrients and phytochemicals that work synergistically. Nutrition research also relies on food diaries and recalls, which are notoriously invalid. People do not report their intake accurately, so these observational studies simply cannot be used to draw any real conclusions. Nutrition research is confusing and conflicting, so, it’s no wonder we don’t know what to eat. It can be exhausting trying to sift through the latest information to know what’s best for us personally. At the end of the day, we all want to improve our health and prevent chronic disease; we just don’t know where to start. There is no one-size fits all diet. We all have unique genetics and we all need to learn what works best for our genetics and lifestyle. Instead of obsessing over whether you should be keto or paleo or low fat or vegan, search for a qualified functional nutrition expert who can help you create the plan that’s most beneficial for you and your genetics.
I am living proof that food as medicine works. From my early twenties, I suffered with autoimmune disease symptoms. I was tried on numerous medications including otezla, sulfasalazine, plaquenil, cyclobenazaprine, and numerous NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). The prescription medications I tried all had horrible side effects for me and did nothing to help alleviate my symptoms. The NSAIDS made life tolerable, so I actually took prescription NSAIDS for eight years continuously. Not one physician (and I saw numerous specialists) mentioned that continuous use of NSAIDS would be detrimental to my health. Not one physician mentioned that food may be helpful in reversing my disease process. After years of no real solutions, I discovered functional medicine. I learned how to use food as medicine and have been able to completely eliminate prescription medications. I have used many strategies, but one example is using ginger (500mg BID) instead of using NSAIDS. That’s a powerful food as medicine example. I take advantage of the anti-inflammatory effects of food instead of relying on drugs that have undesirable side effects. I have reversed my disease with nutrients. And my story is not unique. There are so many people like me who have used nutrition and lifestyle modification to get out from under the weight of their disease. We have all the tools we need inside us to make great progress. Let’s start to trust that when we supply the right nutrients, the body can heal and repair itself. We don't have to be at the mercy of big pharma when it comes to chronic disease.
If you would like more information on how to use food to reverse your chronic disease or would like to learn how to use food to prevent disease, contact us for a free 15 minute phone consultation. It's not easy, but is definitely life-changing.