Food is always looked upon in terms of how much calories it contributes to a meal. However, when we ponder upon, food has much more value than just calories.
Food can be consumed in different form, raw, cooked or processed as per your liking. There is a reason to look out for what you eat due to the choices made to feed our mind. The consumption of convenient and tasty food is more often selected for the pleasure that it provides post meal. A piece of chocolate makes you happy as its consumption releases hormone endorphin. Endorphin are known to decrease the levels of both stress and pain. So, does this mean, you provide a chocolate bar to a depressed person!! Any form of food should not end up being an addiction.
The famous physician, Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. This statement holds true to some extent. A micronutrient ‘Iron’ has the property of increasing the blood count levels thus, influencing the hemoglobin levels of a person that prevents anemic conditions. The easy way out is to pop an iron pill to avoid anemia. But, the fact is a holistic approach is needed than to consider such easy options. These health supplements have more possibility of causing toxicity than having iron through natural foods.
To get the necessary health benefits from the food consumed, you need to look out for how the crop is grown. It is believed that what we eat directly affects the environment. A typical Indian diet though considered to be rice dominant also include few additions of millets, wheat and other grains. However, in the past few decades the production of rice has increased in leaps and bounds to meet the demand of the consumer. Rice by itself does not provide all the nutrition required by the body. To increase the production of rice many farmlands are converted to rice farms which consumes more water compared to millets. Due to single crop production, the nutrients of the soil are depleted. This is one example of killing crop rotation, diversity of the produce and depletion of the natural soil nutrients
Let’s understand how food acts as a medicine.
Corrective measures taken at the agricultural level, will help in retaining the nutrition of the produce, thus providing necessary phytonutrient, vitamins and minerals to provide preventive actions against chronic disease condition.
Fresh or raw vegetables like tomatoes contains Lycopene, grapes and black rice contain Anthocyanins which are phytochemicals providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidative benefits. Inflammation is the root of most diseases and major contributor to the effects of aging. Omega 3 fatty acids present in various natural foods like flaxseeds and walnuts provide antioxidative action to the body. These foods have the property of lowering free radical damage and provide high amount of dietary fiber which has prebiotic effect. All these properties help in prevention of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and metabolic disorders. The famous DASH diet was developed to reduce blood pressure without medication imparts the power of good food (is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and beans and low on empty carbs and sodium which come from highly processed and packaged foods). Today science of epigenetics clearly shows that good food and ecosystem can help even switch off a bad gene and switch on a good gene. Even the so called inheritable genetic diseases are in a way reversible through diet and nutrition.
Food consumed in its natural form retains the maximum property, thus providing preventive measures. Highly processed foods labelled as ‘pure’ can be junk food devoid of any other nutrient accompaniment. Any food taken in moderation can provide the medicinal effect. Overconsumption of any nutrient can create havoc in the metabolic process leading to under or over nourishment. Diversity of diet is a foundation of good nutrition and health.