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How food can be used as a medicine?

Updated on April 23, 2011

In terms of understanding how food can be used as a medicine, we need to understand some basic aspects of life. Read below.

Food as a medicine - Western Approach

The father of western medicines said "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." He was a naturopath, a healer who worked with aspects of diet and fasting to improve health. Effects of over consumption of salt, sugar, saturated fat, and artificial flavors are known to be the major contributors of heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity.

Food as a medicine - Eastern Approach

Ayurvedic Tradition in India (some 4000 years old) has a heritage where the boundaries between body, mind, spirit, matter, food, and medicine vanish. Diet is considered to be potentially balancing all aspects of life.

According to the ayurvedic science, human body is made up of panchamahabhutas. One of the Tridoshas such as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha will always tend to dominate. This influences the type of food that will suit an individual.

The three doshas in detail are -

  1. Vata --Wind dominated individuals prone to insomnia, dislike cold and find it painful. They have dry skin and sparse hair. They often suffer from constipation. Hot and moist food suits them. They also need food which tastes sour.
  2. Pitta---Bile dominated individuals who sweat a lot and are angry. They are quick tempered and easily excited. They are hungry and thirsty most of the times, eat a lot and become overweight. Cold and heavy dry food suits them.
  3. Kapha--Mucus dominated individuals. They are well-built with broad foreheads and thick hair. They have good digestion and sound sleep, eat moderately. They are prone to cough and cold. Hot and light dry food suits them.

The above information is very basic and every body is aware. Sedentary lifestyle, poor dietary habits liking eating junk food, lack of exercise have been responsible for lifestyle disorders even amongst the younger generation. According to the latest WHO report approximately 40% of deaths are due to such disorders in urban India. Diabetes Type 2 is reported to have engulfed approximately 60 million of population in India.

Scientists and technologists are busy in isolating bioactive compounds form medicinal plants all over the world to fight the menace of lifestyle disorders.

Most of the junk food which we often eat such as pizza, burger, samosas, bhelpuri lack in fibers. Dietary fibers are essential in our food intake. Fibers are of 2 types, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers have indirect effect on blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels whereas insoluble fibers have direct effect on laxative action. Most fruits and vegetables have good quantity of dietary fibers.

If you wish to defy ageing phenomenon, here is a bioactive compound, Reservetrol, which scientists have isolated from skin of red grapes. This compound is a very good antioxidant which prevents free radical formation thereby delaying ageing. Red wine is also okay for the same. I have often wondered about the red grape also. I remember when I was a child, my grandmother would always bring us some grape juice when we had a cold. I used to drink a small glass of grape juice every night as a treat. I strongly believe that proper foods are essential for good health. I have personally witnessed it curing certain diseases. There are too many preservatives and additives in the food supply nowadays.

So at last, I would say that improving your dietary intake and eating a balanced diet will lead you to live life longer and in a healthy way. I will tell you more about Ayurveda and benefits of ayurvedic medicine in my upcoming hubs. Until then, bye, bye.......


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    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Thanks Pankaj. Food itself is a medicine and I will definitely publish more hubs on herbal medicine and food as a medicine in my upcoming hubs.

    • pankaj3625 profile image

      Pankaj Pathak 9 years ago from Delhi

      Amazing, kind soul. I had never thought that food can also be used as medicine. Marvellous write-up. Keep me in touch with some more useful tips like this. Your hubs are really praisworthy and beneficial for common man. Good luck.