I have really started to acquire a deeper respect for Hippocrates. If we would abide by his teachings, we might achieve better health for ourselves and others. It also makes me wonder how we have strayed so far when these things were known in his time, but forgotten in ours. Many of his writings include fundamental truths that are the basis for Functional Medicine, including:
“Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.” ~ Hippocrates
"All disease starts in the gut.” ~Hippocrates
“Just as foods causes chronic disease, it can be the most powerful cure.” ~ Hippocrates
But it is some of his other quotes that I would like to explore, today.
“Everything in excess is opposed to nature.” ~Hippocrates
What do we see in our world that is excessive? We can talk about sugar, preservatives, and unhealthy fats in our foods. We can talk about the abundance of processed foods that have made it into our daily diets. We can talk about the abundance of obese people, especially in industrialized nations, that keeps growing every day. We can talk about climate change and excessive greenhouse gas emissions that are pumping into our atmosphere. We can also include having too much exercise and not enough rest. Too much rest and not enough exercise. Too much stress and not enough mindfulness. Too much “work” and not enough “life”. Everything in moderation, right? What are the underlying causes of all this excess? Do we practice moderation in our own lives? What is happening in your life that is excessive and causing your life to be out of balance with nature? What choices can you make to you bring your life back to balance?
I found in my own life that I had to cut back on my work hours to bring more balance to my life. I had to enforce boundaries with my supervisors who would ask me to pick up shifts at the last minute. Last year, I would have felt guilted into saying, "Yes". This year, my focus is different. I am focused on what is best for my family and my own health. I have taken time I need to rest and recover. I have also turned to a whole foods diet. I eat more vegetables at every meal (including breakfast). I have embraced exercise and getting out into nature. I have worked to balance "work" vs "life".
“The greatest medicine of all is teaching people how not to need it.” ~Hippocrates
Let’s look at our current healthcare system. It is a vicious cycle that starts with the foods that we eat. Our food system is pumping out nutrient-deficient processed foods. These foods are everywhere. Fast-food franchises on every city or town corner. Most of the aisles in the grocery store (you know…the ones in the middle of the store) are filled with processed, sugar-filled products. Anything that has a long shelf life (other than honey) is probably full of preservatives that are messing with your gut health. Candy has become a part of every holiday. School lunches are full of flavored milks, processed food products, and sugary snacks.
The food industry has encouraged us to eat all these unhealthy products, which are not providing appropriate nutrients to feed our microbiome and keep our minds and bodies healthy. Our children have behavior issues, gut issues, and obesity. We are tired and depressed and tired of being depressed.
So, then, we finally go to the doctor and get a check-up and discover that we are pre-diabetic, have high blood pressure, heart disease or other chronic diseases. We are anxious, have chronic headaches, or chronic rashes and gut issues. We don't know where to turn. There is so much conflicting information out there. How do we know who to trust? Our medical system is supposed to help us achieve health and wellness, right?
Well, rather than address the underlying causes for these chronic issues, the conventional medical system prescribes medications to take for the symptoms. The medications can lead to side effects which means another prescription. Another symptom, another prescription (and so on). Our medical system makes a lot of money when people eat poorly and have chronic health issues. As pharmacists, we were taught to write a list of symptoms and make sure there is a medication to treat each one.
I want to know what are the underlying causes of disease? What is happening on a cellular level in the body? How have our genetics influenced our health? What is our microbiome doing? Are these issues addressed in routine medical visits? In a word, no.
“Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food.” ~Hippocrates
Most chronic diseases can be improved by fixing the diet first. I am encouraged that I am seeing more organic, gluten-free, or non-GMO products on the grocery store shelves. I am encouraged that companies like Butcher Box, Moink, Misfits, Thrive Market and Farmbox Direct are becoming successful companies. I am encouraged that I am seeing things like Banza (chickpea pasta), From the Ground Up (gluten-free plant-based snacks), Siete (grain-free tortilla chips), Three Wishes (gluten-free cereal) and other products starting to make an appearance on grocery store shelves. I also like to see the rainbow of vegetables offered by places like Misfits or Farmbox Direct. (I do not have any affiliation with any of these companies).
As a pharmacist, I would love to “leave [my] drugs in the chemist’s pot” and use food as medicine to heal the body. I would love to help everyone reduce their pill burden and heal their chronic diseases with food. The food and pharmaceutical industries do not seem to want the same things, but you can use your power to choose and leave the sugary, processed, unhealthy products on the shelf and start eating whole foods instead. When you are ready, I can help guide you to find the answers you are looking for. The answers to the root causes of your chronic diseases. I can’t do it for you; you must choose for yourself.
“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.” ~Hippocrates
Are you ready to pivot to functional health and wellness?