Guest opinion: Food as medicine—How much is our health worth?

This is a question people can ask themselves, and this self inquiry will then generate more questions to understanding our own well being. At first thought, the answer may sound like a dollar amount. In honor of ASU's recent Wellness Week, here are a few questions and answers for anyone to begin their search.

What is the actual makeup of the human body? From our bones to our muscles, to our brains and our eyelashes. Most people respond with a few correct answers and say water, calcium, proteins and sodium. All correct! However, what about all the trace minerals, some of which are hard to pronounce, and all they do to keep us functioning as a finely tuned living machine? How do we take a pile of sauteed vegetables mixed into our scrambled eggs, topped with salsa and plain probiotic yogurt, eat the pile with pleasure, and turn it into our body parts and fuel to get us through the day?

EDUCATION — Beginning with a simple analogy, what kind of fuel do you put in your car or truck? Gasoline or diesel is the proper fuel. Why not a mix of soda, energy drinks and water from your garden hose? Because our cars cannot run on that stuff! Exactly! Same with the human body. We sort of can for a while, but overall, not really.

We are not individuals acting alone. We have team players who help make us who we are. This number may be a shocker. We have, as an estimate, 100 trillion bacteria living in our intestinal tracts who work for us. When we eat nutritious foods these bacteria are happy and healthy also, digest parts of our foods for us and 'ship it' back into our bloodstream to get distributed around from our toes to our nose. When we don't, and we get our body teammates out of whack, we get sick, tired, out of sorts, our minds cannot think as well, and often times we tell ourselves, "I need to start eating better." What does that actually mean?

Having been to the annual Food as Medicine Conference last June, I was the one writer amongst doctors, nutritionists, and health researchers from major universities who presented four days of intense biochemistry. I had not taken notes so fast since I was in college! The speakers covered topics such as digestion, what actually happens when we do eat, what foods work well together, organic foods (no pesticides, herbicides, hormones, or genetically modified organisms - GMOs) versus present agricultural practices, and all the ways our diets affect our health. There were discussions on healthy fats and how they work with spices to reduce or eliminate inflammation in our bodies, how some diseases disappear completely when our bodies get the right fuel! The professional consensus? NInety percent of our modern illnesses are self induced via what we eat. We can change...

Since this article is in support of a university program, it is appropriate for all who want to learn more need a HOMEWORK assignment! Remember that word? Go to (The Center for Mind-Body Medicine) and you will be presented with the Food as Medicine Conference information and links to information on: Macro nutrients, micronutrients, essential amino acids (to build proteins for muscles and brain power), microbiome health (those trillions of bacteria in your tummy and intestines that when, acting in concert together can make a lot of noise!), resistant starches, cell health throughout our bodies, and much more including one of the first steps to better health, drinking more pure water.

Now that we are students and adults, our food choices are our own. We are bombarded with food choices through advertising and misconceptions about health. How can certain foods be bad for us last week and good for us this week? Research is being conducted all around the world about how our bodies truly function on food. Learning to break the disconnect between diet and health is possible and much of the research can be done on our own via internet searches. Enjoy the hunt! Always like to end food articles with this: Eat well, be weller, perform wellest!


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