We all know the saying ‘let thy food be thy medicine’. Hippocrates said it some 2000 years ago and he’s the namesake of the Hippocratic oath our awesome doctors all take when they begin their journey to save lives.
But instead of food as medicine, people today see food vs. medicine; it’s one or the other. What if there was one big shebang solution that could help longevity for all, not just the sick but the healthy too. Isn’t it time we stopped seeking relief but instead vitality?
Food should be our first medicine, and with that comes the need for the highest quality as well as the rightness of that food for you. Another adage you’ve probably heard too much is that ‘one man’s food is another man’s poison’ and that’s not just talking food that’s off or cuisines from different countries you might not want to eat. The healthiest food is the one your body needs most.
We cannot discount the advancements of all we have through medicine: antibiotics save lives; amazing surgical feats save lives. Both have saved my life when I most needed it. Heck, even band-aids save lives that wouldn’t have in the past!
This food vs. medicine argument reminds me of a story I’ve read often in research, I’m not sure where exactly it originates from.
It’s a story about three hikers, who come across a river – in the river’s raging water a steady stream of children are being sucked down stream towards a giant waterfall.
The first hiker jumps in and tries to save the kids most at risk of being swept over the edge. These are our much needed trauma care, ICU nurses, emergency surgery and all the wondrous drugs that save us. These are the vital rescuers, people you want to be there when you’re in dire straits. But as he is only one man he can’t save all the kids and some of them slip past him over the edge.
Next the second hiker jumps in but starts building a raft to pull children to safety. These people are our care team there to manage chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension, to give annual checkups, help out if we’ve an infection or flu we just can’t shake. And we need these raft builders as much as vital care. But there’s a point when the raft gets too full and starts sinking.
While the first two hikers are fighting the river and saving as many children as they can, their friend leaves them and starts swimming frantically upstream, away from the crisis. They call out and ask him why he’s not helping where they know they can save lives. The third friend replies ‘I’m going to swim upstream and find out why the kids are in the river in the first place’. This third rescuer is where nutritional professionals come in, sharing the wisdom of food as medicine. It’s also each and every one of us taking personal responsibility for our health, listening to our own bodies, which we know better than anyone.
Our ‘swimming away’ is not a disregard for allopathic medicine but looking to the root cause of the symptoms that are making us sick, factors like a poor diet, a stressful job, a lack of fresh air, poor sleep or improper exercise. It’s our first medicine.
The story of three hikers is an ability to align our resources to get all health care working together where it begins. Health is a personal responsibility, but it’s a common good: ours.
Modern medicine is truly amazing and I have personally been saved from going over the waterfall. And I rely on the raft that is my yearly neurosurgeon check-ups. But at the same time I’m not waiting to find out if I have another brain tumor. And while nobody knows exactly why I had a brain tumor I can certainly tell you that I am going to continue to do everything I can to stay out of that river in the future through my diet, exercise and lifestyle and sharing all this knowledge as I practice it on myself, which is innately every one of our right to know.