Before Medicine There Was Food

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In today’s society, we are led to believe that the solution to virtually every problem in our lives—from health to happiness—is a pill. While many of those pills contain life-saving medicines that are evidence of the true power of science, many aspects of our lives can actually be improved by following the wisdom of our ancestors and taking advantage of health-boosting fruits and vegetables. That’s why I often tell my patients to remember, “Before there was medicine there was food.”

Since May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a great time to try to add foods to your diet that help boost your skin’s natural ability to protect itself from sun damage. Foods like broccoli and pomegranate are rich in compounds that have been shown to improve the protective performance of topical sunscreens. I call this approach eating your sunscreen.

Our digestive health is an area where good food choices can provide benefits that medicine simply can’t. A diet that is high in both soluble and insoluble plant fiber will help to absorb cholesterol and help to create the kind of environment that allows your gut flora to flourish. Your gut flora is made up of the good bacteria that help you digest your food and avoid irregularity. It also contributes to your overall immune system health. And, of course, treating yourself to a wonderful salad for lunch or dinner is a much nicer option than a daily dose of Milk of Magnesia.

Even the traditional practice of marinating meats in cooking herbs and spices—like garlic, pepper, thyme, rosemary and sage—helps to eliminate certain potentially harmful pathogens. And let’s not forget chocolate. The antioxidants in this sweet treat are now being investigated as agents to help stave off heart, brain and vascular diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer’s.

I encourage you to spend some time getting to know the “medicines” available in the produce aisle of your local market. Your body, spirit and bank account may all be the better for it.
Article by Dr. Howard Murad

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