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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Fausnaugh

"Is Food Farmacy the Key to Better Health? Exploring the Power of Functional Foods"

Updated: Feb 28

Green vegetables

What you eat is the most important thing you can control when it comes to your health. What foods we eat can decide how much inflammation we have in our bodies, how our metabolism functions, how our body regulates blood sugar, and so much more.


Food is Medicine: A Food Farmacy


Just imagine replacing your prescription pill bottles with a grocery list. A new medical model where the key ingredient for better health is more than prescription medication. This is not to understate the importance of medication for people with specific medical conditions, but rather an exploration of possibilities that include the power of functional foods to better health.


This concept of a Food Farmacy is an effective approach and perhaps the key to health optimization and disease prevention. The focus would be to eat the best amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes to prevent disease, improve digestion, and promote healing and energy. Improving the diet by bringing a rich diversity of whole nutrient-packed functional foods to our table.


Think of Your Body as a Bank


If your body is a bank every time you eat you are either making deposits or withdrawals with your meal, snack, and beverage choices. Wholesome nutrient-diverse options count as deposits while highly processed items and ones having refined sugars count as withdrawals. Deposits help fuel wellness while too many withdrawals may leave you with disease. If we think of our bodies as a bank, we can start to understand how the balance of our body bank can decide the trajectory of our health.


Supporting wellness by making deposits can be achieved by choosing whole unprocessed foods choices that are fiber-rich and have many vitamins and minerals. Achieving proper hydration by drinking enough water daily. Other deposit-worthy factors include exercise, quality sleep, healthy relationships, and stress management. These deposits help create the ideal environment for healing and health.


Making too many withdrawals can deplete our body banks. This depleted environment is conducive to imbalance and dysregulation which may set the stage for disease. We make a withdrawal from our bank when we consume things like highly processed foods, refined sugars, and alcohol. Dehydration, poor sleep, and unmanaged stress also count as withdrawals.


The question is “Am I making more deposits or withdrawals”? It’s never too soon to start incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle. A good approach is to focus on making more healthy food deposits into your body bank. Foods that may have a positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition are called functional foods.


Top 10 Functional Food Recommendations


1.      Green Tea not only has proven anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties but also has a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCC). EGCC can help boost fat breakdown, enhance the metabolic process of converting stored fat into energy, block the formation of new fat cells, and support the best metabolic function.

2.      Wild Blueberries help protect the body against inflammation to enhance the health of your brain and body. Try adding some to yogurt or blending it into a smoothie.

3.      Beans and Legumes are both excellent sources of soluble dietary fiber that help reduce blood sugar, support heart health and maintain a healthy gut.

4.      Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids which help reduce bad LDL cholesterol and increase good HDL cholesterol levels, in addition to decreasing blood levels of triglycerides.

5.      Ginger is a root used as a spice to flavor foods and tea that has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and anti-parasitic properties. It may also aid in preventing chronic diseases like heart disease, hypertension, and lung disease.

6.      Cinnamon, specifically Ceylon cinnamon, is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce systemic inflammation throughout the body. Regular consumption of Ceylon cinnamon can help blood sugar regulation, lower blood pressure, and help with cholesterol management.

7.      Bone Broth supports gut healing to improve nutrient absorption and reduce joint pain. It has large amounts of L-glutamine which help heal the lining of the digestive tract.

8.      Turmeric contains curcumin, a scientifically proven compound that can help alleviate arthritis symptoms and depression and can disrupt the growth and spread of cancer. Turmeric is a spice that can be added to many recipes, made into a tea, or taken as a dietary supplement.

9.      Fermented Foods improve the gut microbiome by supporting beneficial gut bacteria. They promote bowel regularity, reduce inflammation, boost immune function, and help support a good mood. Foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir are all examples of fermented foods.

10.  Broccoli Sprouts support the body’s natural detoxification process by stimulating the liver to change toxic substances into their less toxic form and excreting them from the body. Broccoli sprouts have 100 times more sulforaphane than broccoli which boosts intestinal cells to function more appropriately.

 

Food is Medicine: Invest in Your Health


“Evidence reveals that one of every five deaths worldwide is related to a suboptimal diet” according to a 2020 article in The BMJ. Evidence reveals that food as medicine can work. Making more health deposits and fewer withdrawals does help reduce body weight, normalize blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and support a lower risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.


If you are interested in working with a nutrition expert to learn how to incorporate more functional foods into your routine visit my website contact page www.thymetogethealthy.com/contact. Virtual nutrition sessions are covered by most major health insurance plans at little to no out-of-pocket cost to you.

 

BMJ 2020;369:m2482

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