“Let Food Be Thy Medicine”



I firmly believe what Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Eating a plant based, whole foods, balanced diet is the only path to a healthy body. As Michael Pollan put it, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” 

I am loving this! Corporations that own large food companies are having a difficult time financially because more people are asking for healthy foods that are not ultra-processed & contain fewer unhealthy ingredients. According to a Nielsen report the purchasing of foods that are less-processed has risen 15% since 2014. 

Take a look at this Nielsen Report from 2015: We Are What We Eat: Healthy eating trends around the world.  Scroll down to Natural foods With Beneficial Ingredients Are Most Desirable: “When it comes to the foods we eat, consumers are going back to the basics. We asked respondents to rate health attributes from very important to not important in their purchase decisions. The most desirable attributes are foods that are fresh, natural and minimally processed. Foods with all natural ingredients and those without genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are each considered very important to 43% of global respondents—the highest percentages of the 27 attributes included in the study. In addition, about four-in-10 global respondents say the absence of artificial colors (42%) and flavors (41%) and foods made from vegetables/fruits (40%) are very important” YES!!!

Another article by Nielsen Insights: WHAT IT MEANS TO BE ‘CLEAN’ IN TODAY’S FMCG MARKET 08-21-2017 In this report, 68% of those who resoponded said that they were willing to pay more for foods that contain less ingredients that they think are unhealthy. 53% said that products with fewer undesirable ingredients was more important to them than seeing ingredients that they considered healthy. At the bottom of this report is a link to Undesirable IngredientsOne of the most comprehensive lists that I have seen.

Bear with me in this next section. It does pertain to what I have said so far; people are turning towards a healthier diet. Yet they are changing their diet because of what they read on the internet or in the health news of major & minor news sources. Let me give you an example.

Every week I see an important new study about a particular food that decreases the risk or improves the survival rate of a particular cancer. This week it is about tree-nuts & colon cancer. Tree-nuts include: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios & walnuts. Peanuts are a legume, they don’t count.

Yale News: Nut Consumption May Aid Colon Cancer Survival, by Anne Doerr, February 28, 2018 This study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, by lead author Charles Fuchs, the director of Yale Cancer Center. The study followed 826 stage 3 colon cancer patients in a clinical trial. Colon cancer patients who ate at least two 1-ounce servings of tree-nuts per week had a 42% increase in a disease-free survival rate & a 57% increase in overall survival. These results were based on self-reporting of dietary intake over 6 1/2 years. This is an interesting article. The funding for the study is in the last paragraph 🙂

Here is the actual study if you are interested.: Nut Consumption and Survival in Patients With Stage III Colon Cancer: Results From CALGB 89803 (Alliance) 

That study has important information for us. It is not the only dietary change that would help. When I googled research on foods that reduce colon cancer I found these articles. Notice that the articles focus on dietary changes & exercise not on one particular food, mineral or vitamin.

My point here is that I can find research for any type of cancer regarding reducing the risk & increasing the survival rate. The results are overwhelming similar; a change in lifestyle, diet & exercise. Even though we see studies about a particular food, for example tree nuts & colon cancer, eating just that food along with the standard American diet will not reduce the risk significantly, if at all. 

The results of research studies as to what is the best diet & lifestyle to reduce the risk & increase the survival rate of people with chronic diseases, including cancer & obesity, always comes back to these points.

  • Lifestyle changes; no smoking & reducing alcohol intake.
  • Exercise daily. This depends on your ability not someone else’s formula. Even 5-10 minutes a day is a good start.
  • Eating a healthy balanced plant based diet. Mediterranean diet or one similar.
  • Cutting out or back on processed foods & added sugar. Read those  labels & the ingredient list.
  • Portion control. If you’re paying attention to serving sizes, eating until you are sated, not stuffed, then you are taking in the nutrients needed in the amounts the body needs to function. 

This is a list from the Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine, PCRM  to reduce the risk of cancers. 

Applying the Precautionary Principle to Diet and Cancer: Six Tips to Reduce the Occurrence of Cancer

  1. Avoid dairy products to reduce risk of prostate cancer.
  2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.
  3. Avoid red and processed meat to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
  4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.
  5. Women should consume soy products in adolescence to reduce risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer survivors should consume soy products to reduce risk of cancer recurrence and overall mortality.
  6. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several forms of cancer.

This is very exciting news! In the Newsletter this week from T.Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies was this article: Center for Nutrition Studies Donates $1.5 Million to Highland Hospital for New Nutrition Research Program  By  Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY will receive a $1.5 million donation from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies for a new nutrition research program. Lead by Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D., and Erin Campbell, M.D., M.P.H., this significant research venture will focus on plant-based nutrition and will be part of Highland’s new Weight Management & Lifestyle Center.

Initial research done through Highland’s Weight Management & Lifestyle Center will focus on nutrition and cancer. The pilot project will be a first-of-its-kind study that looks at the effects of plant-based nutrition in patients with advanced breast cancer, who are also receiving conventional therapy. The Center plans to do additional studies on nutrition as an intervention in a variety of diseases, partnering with experts in various specialties at the University of Rochester.

The reason I am excited about this study is because it will center on a plant based diet while undergoing conventional treatment. “This type of diet avoids or minimizes meat, dairy, and processed foods, including added fats and sugars. A plant-based diet includes pastas, breads, rice, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables.” It will be done by Dr. Campbell, who wrote The China Study. This is important because he has constructed other programs that were testing a vegan diet on the general population in parts of Kentucky who signed up to correct health issues. The outcome of those tests were very impressive. Can’ wait to see the results of this clinical trial!  

To find out more, visit lifestylecenter.urmc.edu

I am heartened to see that globally people are turning to healthy, basic, whole foods to eat. It gives hope to the idea of decreasing cancer & other chronic diseases & ending obesity. Moliere appears to be the first to say, (in a comedy he wrote in 1668 called “The Miser”): “One should eat to live, not live to eat”. What this means to me is that we should be preparing & eating healthy balanced meals to nourish & sustain our bodies. I think it also means that these meals should be eaten with friends & family when possible & sitting down at a table. It should be a community/family ritual. Food is our medicine but so is the camaraderie & love we get when sharing it with others in a mindful way.

Until next week…Mary 🙂