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Natural Awakenings Boston

Food as Medicine: Nutritional Therapy is Right for Everyone

Mar 01, 2019 02:39PM ● By Beth Gardner

Healthy food can act as medicine in promoting proper function of our body systems and decreasing the likelihood of developing a chronic disease.

Our bodies depend on the nutrients that can be found in foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Potassium found in bananas, for instance, helps control healthy blood pressure; and apples, which are high in soluble fiber, can help lower cholesterol levels. By incorporating nutrient-dense foods into our diets, we provide our bodies with the tools they need to keep our systems intact.

On the other hand, diets packed with processed foods, sugar and fat, can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases such as inflammation, diabetes and obesity. When we consume foods high in refined carbs or sugar, our bodies digest them into sugars and fatty acids, creating unwanted fat in our bodies. Over time, an over-consumption of these foods can make us more susceptible to developing health problems, such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar. These conditions can then lead to heart disease and other chronic illnesses. While diet may not be the sole solution to reversing the effects of a particular disease, an individual can certainly benefit from a change in diet.

Antioxidants found in fruits such as pomegranates, can lower both cholesterol and blood pressure; and leafy greens contain a good source of vitamin E that can protect the body from inflammation-causing molecules. Our bodies also process these fruits and vegetables into energy. Whole grains, which are high in fiber, also may help reduce cholesterol, as can heart-healthy avocados, which are rich in good fats. The list goes on, but nutrient- dense foods can all act as natural remedies to bolster our health and aid in preventing disease.

This form of nutritional therapy is right for everyone. While each individual may need more or less of certain nutrients depending on their health conditions, the food we choose to eat ultimately impacts the overall function of all of our bodies. However, we realize this change in lifestyle may be challenging to adopt at first for a variety of reasons.

People often get so caught up in the idea of dieting, they forget the importance of nourishing their bodies and finding the proper balance. The word “diet” in general, can even have a negative connotation, implying a limit on our food choices and overall consumption. We suggest adopting a healthy mindset that focuses on what you should eat, rather than what you should not.

Some people simply do not have the time to cook meals, and thus resort to frozen meals or takeout. While these may seem like a better alternative in the short-term, the effects of poor eating greatly increase the risk of developing chronic diseases later on. These individuals should consider a consultation with a wellness professional to develop a healthy eating plan that works for them to fit their lifestyle.

Beth Gardner is a certified lifestyle educator and director of health and wellness for Acton Pharmacy, Keyes Drug, in Newton, and West Concord Pharmacy. To learn more or to set up a consultation, email [email protected].

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