If I could use only one medicine for the rest of my life, I would choose food. Not just any kind of food, but organically grown vegetables. Real food, grown in the ground, without chemicals, as medicine. Food as medicine. It’s a fairly simple concept that can have a huge impact on your health.
When I was 19 years old, I came home from college for summer break 10 pounds overweight and freaking out about it. I did not feel good. I decided to try the calorie deficit theory of eat less calories and exercise more to lose weight. The problem was that it did not work. Fast forward years later to today, where I know now that the weight gain and the inability to lose weight was due to a combination of stress and poor nutrition choices. Understanding food as medicine back then would have surely saved me a lot of angst.
Food as medicine.
Think about what you’ve eaten so far today, if you’ve eaten that is. I know not everyone eats breakfast. If you did eat something, what color was it? Did it come in a package? Did you have to cook it? Now think about what you’re going to eat for the rest of the day and ask yourself those same questions. What color will it be? Will it come in a package? Will you have to cook it?
If you’re like the average American, then today you will eat around 14 grams of fiber, 110g sugar or 22 tsp, and 1.6-3.2 cups of coffee or somewhere between 152 to 304 mg caffeine.
To put that into perspective, today, you would be eating ½ the minimum recommended daily intake of fiber according to the Mayo clinic, which is 25-38g fiber/day. In one year you would be eating 70 pounds of sugar, or the weight of 1 child in sugar. And, if you’re hopped up on caffeine all day everyday, you may be suspect to sleepless nights, anxiety, headaches or high blood pressure.
Wow, imagine that! Some of the people you know are probably caffeine addicts eating children made out of sugar. It’s a good thing you’re not made of sugar!
You may be wondering, “Dr. Lopes, what’s the fix, what can I do?”
“Duh, eat more vegetables!” … right?
YES … NO … MAYBE?
My answer is not so simple.
YES, eat more vegetables, please do, because vegetables save lives! When organically grown, in nutrient rich soil, vegetables offer a powerful blend of vitamins, nutrients, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. This will go a LONG way to helping create, support and balance a clean body with a functioning metabolism. It’s like the fountain of youth found in food!
NO, eating more vegetables isn’t the easiest solution out there. Nobody wants to eat salads everyday all day. I certainly don’t. But that’s where the internet offers a great resource on how you can get really creative with how to incorporate more vegetables. There are so many amazing recipes and ideas on the internet, from vegetable soups, to smoothies to interesting salads and everything in between.
MAYBE, what would be most helpful is to take it step by step and start by focusing on what you CAN eat, not on what you CAN’T. Maybe tomorrow you might try to add 1 color to your dinner. Maybe the day after that you try to add 1 color to lunch. Take it step by step for long term success.
In today’s economy of consumption coupled with an ineffective health paradigm, more people are developing chronic disease at a younger age. We can take a preventative, proactive and empowered approach towards ensuring our own good health and longevity by using food as medicine. Popeye knew there was something to spinach. I prefer Kale myself, but potato, potāto. Food as medicine, vegetables save lives. While you may not gain super powers from eating more vegetables, the next life saved could be yours!