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Ogechi Anyaoku, MD
Food As Medicine
Adventist Medical Group Primary Care
. https://www.adventisthealthcare.com/doctors/profile/ogechi-anyaoku/

Food As Medicine

Food As Medicine

Food is an important part of our everyday life. It provides fuel for our body and serves as a means of connection when we gather with friends and family for a meal. But did you know that food can act as a form of medicine and help save your life?

What you choose to eat has a huge impact on your overall health. The quality of the food you’re putting into your body has the potential to influence disease prevention, not to mention influence quality of life, health and longevity. Nutritious foods can reverse disease and maintain good health, while the opposite is true for processed foods, which can promote disease development and progression.

Following the below suggestions may help you see your food as a form of medicine and make better eating decisions.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Try to eat a diet that is best suited for your health concerns, lifestyle and food preferences. Improve your overall health and well-being by choosing to eat fresh, organic foods. I often tell my patients to ‘eat the rainbow daily’ and opt for a fruit or vegetable from each color of the rainbow, or at least throughout the week. There are numerous beneficial compounds in them, including fiber, which helps to balance out blood sugar and improve digestion.

Equally important for maintaining positive health outcomes is limiting or eliminating processed foods. Processed foods can interfere with the function of macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytonutrients (substances from plants) within our body. This can lead to poor overall health and possibly developing chronic diseases such as heart disease.

Incorporating these easy steps into your diet will lead to a healthier you:

  • Eat healthy fats such as avocado, fatty fish, nuts and seeds
  • Consume most of your carbohydrates from vegetable sources
  • Eat enough protein to help build and repair your body
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water everyday
  • Set small goals for choosing healthier foods

Eat For Your Microbiome

Your microbiome is the collection of microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast, fungi and viruses that live in your intestines. These microorganisms produce important substances such as amino acids and chemicals that help our body function.

It’s important to feed these microorganisms diverse foods that will help them function properly. Fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes are the best sources of nutrients for your microbiome since they contain a high amount of fiber. To maintain a healthy microbiome, make sure you are including the following into your diet:

  • Stay hydrated throughout the day with water
  • Incorporate prebiotic and probiotic foods such as yogurt, artichokes, garlic and onions
  • Consume high-fiber vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, spinach and brussels sprouts
  • Limit or avoid processed food

Preserve Nutrients When Cooking

We know that eating nutritious foods has immense health benefits. Unfortunately, as soon as fruits and vegetables are picked, they begin losing nutrients. The most nutritious form of fruits and vegetables is when they are in their raw form.

While cooking can diminish nutrient content, it can also improve some qualities, by making fibrous foods and animal proteins easier to digest, making foods easier to chew and destroying things that may be harmful.

Preserve nutrients while cooking using the following tips:

  • Keep skins on when possible
  • Choose steaming over boiling
  • Use a minimal amount of cooking liquid
  • Avoid continuous reheating of food
  • If reheating food, use glass containers

Sometimes improving your diet can seem like a daunting task. Aim for small actionable goals to make long-lasting improvements to your health. If you can make one small change a week, you will be on your way to better health in no time.

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