Let Food Be Your Medicine
Eating right is the best cure as well as the ideal course to preventing illnesses, say, nutrition experts
The power of good food is highly underestimated. We live in the time of instant ramen, dominos and double cheeseburgers, a time when it is highly unlikely for a starving millennial to rush to the kitchen to cook some dal chawal. In short, if it isn’t instantly gratifying, it’s not worth the hundreds of rupees we are willing to shell out. But here’s something we overlook in this fast and sloppy lifestyle—us, our bodies. What we fail to look at is food as a source of nourishment, medication, cure, and ultimate happiness. But let’s not make our story sound like a cautionary tale, but begin with how the right food can keep diseases at bay and help create a healthy future. If we play our cards right, we could even prevent cancer by thinking twice about what goes into our system. Various studies over the years have found a correlation between good diets and lowered risk of diseases.
“Food is the only medicine you would need if it is the prevention of diseases that you are seeking,” says renowned nutritionist Ritesh Bawri from Tufts University. Recent research pointed out how maintaining a good diet played a significant role in reducing stress levels and depression. These days, most cancer treatments incorporate anti-cancer diets. This requires a dietician to create dietary plans based on the individual’s needs and tailoring the said diet as the treatment progresses. We have come to a point were nutrition therapy has become an integral part of most medical treatments. Dr. Suhasini Viswanathan, a certified dietitian, nutritionist and diabetes educator from Bengaluru, shared her perspective on the subject, reiterating the need for the right nutrition.
“Maintaining an alkaline environment in the body, through the intake of more fruits and vegetables and less red meat is important to killing the cancer cells that thrive in an acidic environment,” she explained. A weak gut, she said, is like having fewer soldiers to guard us. According to her, a good nutrition plan that consists of a lower intake of red meat and processed foods can help prevent cancer by flushing out toxins in the body and starving the cancer cells. “Eating the right kind of foods can have a very protective effect in the body, strengthening the immune system, a make or break factor when it comes to battling diseases,” she said. She also emphasized the importance of maintaining good gut health as most symptoms were caused due to its negligence.
Nutrition therapy is considered most effective in helping cancer patients maintain a healthy BMI, keeping body tissues healthy, improving strength and decreasing the offshoot of reactions before and after treatment. “The right kind of food, especially fiber, can help the gut harbor some good bacteria that can flush out toxins and fight infection better. Moreover, eating nutritious food makes you avoid unhealthy choices, like sweet cravings, and is an overall boost for one’s body,” said Dr. Viswananthan. Seeing how a nutritional diet can add longevity and make life wholesome, it’s best we follow through heeding the age-old adage, ‘Prevention is better than cure.’ For all those struggling to begin a healthy, mindful life, here are some nifty prompts to help you get going:
• Do your research. A quick visit to credible websites or to an experienced nutritionist can help you understand what food your body needs and what you need to stay away from. Unfortunately, the Internet is replete with all sorts of information, often misleading. It would be ideal to visit a nutritionist who can guide you through a diet plan as per your body’s requirements.
“Food is the only medicine you would need, if it is prevention of diseases that you are seeking.”Ritesh Bawri, Nutritionist
• Say yes to veggies. The benefits of a diet rich in vegetables are infinite. These superfoods are rich in antioxidants, keeping diseases, especially cancer, at bay. From vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and beans that fight stomach cancer to foods high in lycopene such as tomatoes, guava, and watermelon that lower the risk of prostate cancer, most fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains are rich in disease-fighting nutrients.
• Cut down on the obvious danger foods. There are some items you need to stop consuming right now. Junk or fast foods, items with refined sugar, are a strict no in a healthy diet. Since these foods are high in saturated fat and trans fat, increased consumption can lead to a rise in the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol.
• Food over supplements. Most of us are recommended to take Vitamin D supplements. Instead of resorting to medicine, treat your lack of a particular vitamin with food. Consume foods rich in Vitamin D, like orange juice, soymilk, and eggs to get the right vitamin in your body.
• Be health-centric, not objective centric. A lot of our diets are based on a particular objective like slimming down or clearing acne. Rather than following fad diets, stick to a diet that provides the right nutrients to your body. In this way, you’ll find yourself following through with the diet for a long time, resulting in a healthy lifestyle. In the words of the wise, our bodies are temples that deserve respect and love. Eat right, and raise a toast to a healthy, happy future!