SCIENTISTS HAVE DISCOVERED a powerful new drug that may help cure all chronic illnesses. It is a drug you take every day. What is it? Well, you can find it at the end of your fork. It’s called food.
Mounting research shows that there is no magic bullet to treat heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, allergies, digestive disorders, headaches, fatigue, or any of the myriad problems we suffer from in the 21st century. But increasing evidence also shows us something else. It shows that food is the most powerful “drug” we have not just to prevent, but also treat, cure, and reverse most chronic illnesses.
As soon as the words “food is medicine” left my lips, I was under attack.
Unfortunately, most physicians did not learn the two most important things we need to know about in medical school — nutrition and the role of the environment and toxins in our health. My goal is to help my patients heal and get better and I have no particular allegiance to any type of treatment — whether it is a drug, surgery, radiation, or a new procedure.
I have at my disposal the best medicines and pharmaceutical treatments. I can send patients to the best surgeons and specialists anywhere in the world. But time after time, I find the most powerful, fastest acting, and most dramatic results come from using food as our main medicine.
I use food for healing, not because I believe it is better to use natural treatments than to use drugs, but because it works better and only has positive side effects. And I’m not alone.
Every year I give a presentation at a course called “Food As Medicine,” sponsored by The Center for Mind-Body Medicine. You can find out more about this by going to the Food As Medicine Conference website. This course breaks important ground in bringing nutritional science to healthcare professionals in a digestible, practical, hands-on format.
Dr. Jim Gordon, who was the chairman of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine, pioneered this course more than seven years ago. He was recently honored as one of the five pioneers of integrative medicine by the Bravewell Collaborative and has been a leader in mind-body medicine, nutrition, and healing for nearly 40 years.
Over the last several years, he has trained hundreds of practitioners, including faculty from more than 50 medical schools, which are now including this knowledge of how to use food as medicine in their curriculum.
Clearly, things have changed.
I remember a food-related meeting years ago, which included the nutritionists, doctors, chefs, and owners of Canyon Ranch, where I worked. I made it very clear during that meeting that I believed the future of nutrition and the culinary arts must recognize the therapeutic value of food to heal chronic illnesses.
As soon as the words “food is medicine” left my lips, I was under attack. The vehement response from the chief chef was that food is only about good taste, not good health, and that we were not the Mayo Clinic. Fortunately, this antiquated view is changing.
More and more food services, restaurants, and other institutions are recognizing the healing power of food and are including healing foods as part of their offerings.
The “Food As Medicine” course addresses things that most practitioners never learn in medical school, such as the scientific basis of nutrition as a therapeutic tool, how we can eat in a sustainable way, and how the health of our planet has directly affected the health of our food and the health of our bodies.
The course stresses areas such as nutrigenomics, the idea that food is information that speaks to our genes and turns on messages that create health or disease. It also explores the role of stress, nutrition, hormone balance, the health of our gut, and the importance of detoxification, and food.
The course is based on the basic tenets of Functional Medicine but is broken down into simple, practical tools practitioners can use every day with their patients. It addresses specific nutritional approaches for conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, ADD, asthma, allergies, autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, and adrenal, thyroid, and neurodegenerative problems. Practitioners are advised on the use of nutritional supplements and cutting edge laboratory tests.
All this is done in an experiential way that increases self-awareness and includes food demonstrations and organic meals. The faculty for this course is outstanding. In fact, the course director is Kathie Swift of The UltraWellness Center. Kathie’s been involved in creating and developing this course for many years.
Anybody interested in nutrition is welcome to come.
Any healthcare practitioner will benefit — including physicians, osteopaths, medical school faculty, nurses, nurse practitioners, registered dietitians and nutritionists, physician assistants, community healthcare practitioners, psychologists, mental health professionals, and other health professionals.
According to Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the leading researchers in the world in nutrition, “It is time to end the confusion. ‘Food As Medicine’ presents the best current scientific evidence for physicians, nutritionists, and other health professionals who want to counsel patients and teach students.”
I encourage all of you to tell your healthcare practitioners about it — and consider attending yourself. This course provides tools and information to use the most powerful weapon against disease in the 21st century, your fork.
Remember what Hippocrates said:
“Leave your potions in the chemist’s crucible if you can handle your patients with food.”
Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below—but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD