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||Healing & Alternative Health:
||The Healing Power of Food
||by Gerri Shapiro, MS Ed
"Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food." -Hippocrates
Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away?
The foods we consume play a major role in our health and well being. Unfortunately, with our McDonalds lifestyle and microwave oven craze, much of the art and knowledge of using food to prevent illness and promote wellness has been lost.
When we learn more about foods and their healing properties, we are empowered to reclaim control over our bodies and our health.
Food Is Making A Comeback
As health costs skyrocket and harmful side effects of drugs become more apparent, food is making a comeback. Leading scientists are now proving that fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains do, indeed, make us healthy. In fact, researchers are now predicting that one day doctors may actually forego giving you drugs and instead prescribe onions in your diet to control cholesterol, chili peppers to fight emphysema, carrots to prevent cancer, cranberries to ward off infections and beans to regulate diabetes!
Diet and Cancer
In a comprehensive report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, scientists concluded that poor eating habits accounted for a third of all cancer. They are recommending a plant-based diet, focusing mainly on vegetables, fruits and whole grains as an important guideline in lowering the risk of cancer. These foods supply fiber as well as a variety of antioxidants and phytochemicals known to protect cells from the damage that can begin the cancer process.
James Duke, a U.S. Department of Agriculture researcher says "When it comes to cancer, at least, prevention is much more plausible than cure. It's so painless to up our anti-oxidant or fiber intake. The evidence of the beneficial effect of changing our diet is so strong that we are foolish not to do it."
A diet high in vitamin C containing foods such as red and green bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, strawberries, spinach, oranges, cabbage, grapefruit and cantaloupe can help destroy free radicals before they enter the cells, where they may eventually result in clogged arteries, heart attacks and strokes.
Wheat germ, rice ban, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, peanuts, soybeans and vegetable oils in general - all containing significant amounts of vitamin E, protect cell membranes.
Yellow and red onions, red grapes, broccoli and yellow crookneck squash contain another effective antioxidant called quercitin. It is one of the few food substances that has been shown to block cancer both in the earliest stage and in tumors. Quercitin also protects arteries and discourages blood clots.
Grains also help suppress cancer-causing agents, and due to their high fiber content help reduce constipation. The gummy fiber found in both oats and barley helps lower blood cholesterol as well.
As reported by author Jean Carper in her books The Food Pharmacy, scientists suspect antioxidants are the reason that fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and nuts promote health and help prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease and arthritis.
Antioxidants quench toxic molecules known as free radicals that are a by-product of normal metabolism. They can be produced from exposure to the sun, x-rays, tobacco smoke, car exhaust and other environmental pollutants. These free radicals damage DNA, corrode cell membranes, kill cells and are directly responsible for gradual deterioration during the aging process. Eating foods high in naturally occurring antioxidants could prevent the onset of degenerative diseases and enable people to live out their lives in optimum health.
Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, grapes, apples, Brazil nuts and cashews all contain ellagic acid. This antioxidant helps block four different types of cancer-causing agents.
Fresh and dried apricots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, carrots, kale, dark leafy lettuce, spinach, winter squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes are all high in beta-carotene. This is the substance that converts to vitamin A in the body, and is considered the major reason why fruits and vegetables protect against cancer, particularly lung cancer. A diet high in beta-carotene containing foods may reduce the risk of lung cancer even among people who have smoked cigarettes for years.
High potassium foods, including potatoes, cantaloupe, bananas, tomatoes and low-fat yogurt, seem to help protect blood vessels against damage from high blood pressure.
Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, horseradish, kale, radish, rutabaga) contain compounds which block the formation of cancer, particularly colon cancer. Lower risks of breast, uterine and hormone-dependent cancers are also linked to high intake of cruciferous vegetables.
Beans have been found to be effective in lowering cholesterol and regulating insulin and blood sugar levels.
Raw garlic helps kill bacteria and boost immune function, while cooked garlic can help lower blood cholesterol as well as help prevent bronchitis.
Foods That Fight Pain
According to Neal Barnard, M.D., author of Foods That fight Pain, foods work against pain in four ways:
(1) They can reduce damage at the site of an injury;
(2) they can cool your body's inflammatory response;
(3) they can provide analgesia on pain nerves, and
(4) they can work within the brain to reduce pain sensitivity.
A major factor in the successful treatment of fibromyalgia, as well as chronic pain, is specific nutrients that exert a strong regenerative effect on the body's systems, including the nervous system.
Christine Craggs-Hinton, a fibromyalgia sufferer, and author of The Fibromyalgia Diet, made the important discovery that changes made to her own diet had the greatest positive impact on reducing her fibromyalgic symptoms. Christine stresses that it is important to take responsibility for your own illness, a part of which is being fully aware of what you eat and drink.
Rebuilding and Healing Our Bodies
Foods contain many components which work together to provide optimum health. All foods, in their essential, unadulterated form, provide nutrients that support growth and healing. Diet treats the causes of disease, not just the symptoms, by balancing the body's systems and by helping the body to repair itself. Whenever we supply ourselves with missing nutrients, our bodies have the raw materials necessary to rebuild and heal.
The importance of a good diet is nothing new. What is new is the affirmation that the incidence of most chronic diseases has a dietary link and that a good diet can help prevent as well as treat disease.
Hippocrates may be right. Food is our best medicine.*
*(For those currently on medication or on a specific diet, it is important to consult your health practitioner before making any kind of dramatic changes in your diet.)
Gerri Shapiro, MS Ed, is a leading health educator and Bowen practitioner who has worked with the World Health Organization, Asian Development Bank, USAID and Management Sciences for Health in the areas of alternative and traditional medicine. She is a member of the American Massage Therapy and American Holistic Health Associations. She is the editor of www.boweninfo.com, a Bowen information and resource site, and is the producer of the self-help video Miracle Pain Relief - The Gentle Power of Bowen For Family and Friends, (www.miraclepainrelief.com), designed for lay people who do not have access to a Bowen practitioner.
Gerri Shapiro, MS Ed, is a leading health educator and Bowen practitioner who has worked with the World Health Organization, Asian Development Bank, USAID and Management Sciences for Health in the areas of alternative and traditional medicine.
She is a member of the American Massage Therapy and American Holistic Health Associations.
Gerris is also the editor of www.boweninfo.com, a Bowen information and resource site, and is the producer of the self-help video Miracle Pain Relief - The Gentle Power of Bowen For Family and Friends, (miraclepainrelief.com), designed for lay people who do not have access to a Bowen practitioner.