E1: The Science Behind Using Food as Medicine
My first YouTube episode is out in the world! This has been a labor of love and something that I am so excited to share with you. It definitely feels semi-insane to launch this youtube channel in the third trimester of my pregnancy! But at the same time, I shoot out of bed with excitement every morning thinking about all of the topics that I have planned to share.
On the BeingBrigid Youtube Channel, I’ll share the actual science of using food as medicine, nutrient-dense recipes that are anti-inflammatory and low glycemic, and lifestyle tips. My goal is to create an environment that is grounded in the cutting edge science on nutrition and lifestyle while also walking you through how you can make a healthy lifestyle doable. So many of the podcasts and channels out there make it feel like you have to live in LA and be inundated in the wellness scene in order to be “healthy” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. My team and I have worked with people from all over the country and have helped them succeed regardless of where they live. In this channel, I want to help you see that it’s possible to optimize your health regardless of your circumstances!
In the first episode, I dive into the Science of Using Food as Medicine. I cover the science behind how food impacts your health, how food impacts disease, and key takeaways. Did you know that nothing is killing more Americans than the food we are eating each day? It’s an unfortunate truth that is driven by a food industry that pays no attention to health and a health industry that pays no attention to food, as author and activist Wendell Berry put so eloquently.
How Food is Driving Disease
Every year, Americans spend trillions of dollars on healthcare–most recently we spent $4.1 trillion to be exact–but we see very little improvement in actual health. According to a US News report, out of the top 11 wealthiest nations in the world, America spends the most money by far on pharmaceuticals, surgeries, and other health interventions, yet we report the worst health outcomes. How is that possible? Look no further than our food!
America’s healthcare industry puts little-to-no emphasis on evidence-based diet and lifestyle changes that can reverse disease and improve overall health. And that’s partly because the food industry funds much of the research around nutrition. Every year, the food industry funnels millions of dollars into lobbying efforts that not only influence health experts but also impact the federal guidelines like MyPlate (which replaced the food pyramid) and the School Lunch and Breakfast Program. The result is a nation of chronically ill people addicted to the foods that are making them sick.
Numerous studies show that diet is the number one driver of chronic illness. A 2020 report from the CDC showed that 7 out of 10 of the leading causes of death in America were diet-related, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and kidney disease.
Diet has also been shown to be a huge factor in other chronic conditions that impair quality of life! This includes digestive issues, depression and anxiety, autoimmune diseases, thyroid diseases, PCOS and infertility, arthritis and chronic pain, osteoporosis, acne and skin conditions, migraines, and much much more.
The Importance of Food as Medicine
Because the healthcare industry knows so little about nutrition and is so heavily influenced by food industry lobbyists, doctors often reject the idea of treating health conditions with anything other than a pill. When I was 16, I was told by my doctor that there was no other option for me than to be on medications for the rest of my life. Thanks to my parents and a functional medicine doctor who knew about using nutrition to heal, that has not been my story.
Food has been used for treating and preventing disease for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations planted certain crops specifically for medicinal purposes. Even Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” He believed diet was the most profound way to impact health, and our modern science supports his ancient theory.
According to a recent report by the Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center, studies show that “sustained dietary changes can be as effective as pharmacological interventions in treating certain diseases.” And what’s more, using medicine in conjunction with a healthy, tailored diet is shown to be more effective than drugs alone.
Many prominent organizations like the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Rockefeller Foundation, and even the White House are beginning to acknowledge the importance of using food as medicine. For the first time in over five decades, influential institutions like these are putting money into research and programs to prioritize access to nutritious food and use food as medicine to prevent, treat, and manage diet-related illnesses. Learn more about these key initiatives in the episode.
How to Implement Food as Medicine
Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill that can fix chronic symptoms, conditions, and diseases. But the great news is, you can improve your health with the choices you make day-to-day, starting with your food. Here are a few takeaways to help you get started.
1- Prioritize Anti-Inflammatory, Nutrient-Dense, Biochemically Rich Foods
Not a single human alive is immune to the negative impacts a high-glycemic, inflammatory diet can have on your health and your life. In order to show up for yourself, your family, and your life in the fullest way possible, you have to focus on foods that fuel every cell in your body and improve the biochemical reactions that make your body function optimally. These are things like:
Nuts and seeds
Beans and lentils
Healthy fats and oils
High-quality fish and other animal proteins
2-Substantially Reduce your Intake of Ultra-processed Foods
There is considerable research emerging that shows packaged, processed foods are directly tied to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, early death and more. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that for every 10% increase in ultra-processed foods, there was a 14% increase risk of early death.
Yet, packaged, ultra-processed foods take up 60% of our food supply. But there are zero benefits to consuming these foods (outside of convenience). They’re completely void of any nutrients that help to improve the way that you function. Move away from ultra-processed foods and focus more on whole foods that are far more nutrient-dense and bioactive.
3-Start Taking Control of Your Own Health
The healthcare industry often doesn’t prioritize nutrition as a factor in health. The good news is that you don’t need to wait for permission to be your own healthcare advocate. You can start today!
Even if your doctor says nutrition has nothing to do with your condition, I’m here to tell you that it does. And the science is behind me.
More From This Episode
If you want to dive into this topic further, check out my latest episode on The Science of Food as Medicine. This episode is perfect for anyone who needs a reminder of the importance of using food as medicine. It’s also the perfect episode to share with a family member or friend that you are trying to encourage to embrace a healthier lifestyle.
If you’re ready to start taking control of your health and using food as medicine today, get in touch. I’d love to show you how to use food that is optimal for your body to restore your health and change your life.