We all know the Hippocrates famous quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” but can we really prevent visits to the doctor just by eating certain foods? Can food be medicine?
I think absolutely! We need doctors and nurses of course, now more than ever we realise that and we can appreciate them so much but we do need to look at our lifestyles and our food choices and wonder why so many people get sick, suffer from chronic and age-related diseases that in my opinion can very much be avoided and slowed down.
There’s a place for doctors and medicine but there’s also a whole lot of room for as you say using food as medicine. For example, turmeric/curcumin has been extensively studied in modern medicine and Indian systems of medicine for the treatment of various medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis, haemorrhoids, gastric ulcer, colon cancer, breast cancer, atherosclerosis, liver diseases, dementia, brain injuries and arthritis.
This root is used as a powerful anti-inflammatory drug in some parts of the world and I think it’s a very positive reminder to us of just how powerful food as medicine can actually be.
Someone who ate well, focused on a predominately wholefood unprocessed diet that was rich in veggies, fruits, good quality proteins and healthy fats; didn’t smoke, drank occasionally, kept their stress levels fairly low and participated in exercise are most likely going to have less trips to the doctors than someone who’s diet is made up of processed/fast food, a lot of sugar, consistent alcohol consumption, cigarettes etc.
The latter person is going to find they have a lot more inflammation in the body due to diet choices and also a compromised immune system from lack of nutrients. So again you can see how food can play a huge part in acting as medicine.
What is your view or value on organic food? Are there certain foods we should definitely only buy organic? The dirty dozen?
Organic food is wonderful because it’s grown without pesticides, hormones etc. However only if it’s within your budget. Feeding a large family solely on organic food can be pricey and often double your weekly shop if you don’t shop smartly.
It’s much better to still be eating your fruits and veggies than not to be eating them at all because you’re worried about not buying organic. My advice would be to check out your local farmer's markets, greengrocers, lots of farms have online shops where you can arrange a local delivery or pick up and this organic produce is often a little cheaper than your average supermarket and is always fresher.
I don’t always buy organic but I do have a few non-negotiables on foods we eat regularly and those that we eat the skin on. I will always choose to buy organic meats and organic dairy due to the hormones and antibiotics, I’ll also always buy free-range organic eggs this is not only due to the quality of the product but I also think it’s the most humane option and the nutrients aren’t compromised.
With regards to fruits and veggies, I’ll try and follow the dirty dozen but often will look at things I have each day for instance I have spinach regularly in my smoothie, and I eat the skins on things like apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc. so these things affect my choice on what I buy organic and what I don’t. Bananas I don’t! I like to buy organic flour as often this is actually one product that has a lot of pesticides and I like to bake a lot for my family.
The dirty dozen is a guideline of fresh foods that contain the highest level of pesticides so its recommend that if you ca you follow the list and shop accordingly- again d what you can, look at what you eat the most and go from there. Otherwise, just ensure you wash your fruits and veggies well you can buy a great ‘wash’ in most health food shops or online.
Strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and sweet bell peppers.
At Supernova we believe ‘fitness’ is so much more than a six-pack and physical strength. This is why our powders contain 40-50% organic adaptogens for balance in all areas of the body. Which foods, specifically, can boost our mental health, hormones, neurotransmitters etc?
Healthy fats are absolutely critical for optimum brain function, moods and regulating our hormones. So they would be my go-to and I try and incorporate them into every meal. Think avocados, nuts and seeds, extra virgin olive oil, flax and chia seeds, organic dairy, grass-fed butter, full-fat organic Greek yoghurt, and unsweetened coconut yoghurt. Roughly 60% of our brain is actually fat so you can see how beneficial and important it is to consume the right types of fat daily. An example day might be a smoothie with nut butter, greens, some fruit and flaxseeds. A lunch consisting of roasted veggies, legumes, and leafy greens drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and dinner maybe some organic chicken or fatty fish like salmon, sweet potato, avocado and greens. I love to snack on nuts!
What foods do you recommend specifically to boost immunity? Surely there are more effective foods than an orange a day for vitamin C and do we need any other minerals or vitamins for the vitamin C to be absorbed properly?
Oranges are great for immunity and while they do have a dose of vitamin C in them there are some surprisingly high other options! Broccoli, bell peppers, kiwis and cherries are some of my favourite sources and can easily be eaten daily and incorporated into different meals. While foods don’t necessarily ‘boost’ immunity they can certainly support it. A diet that is consistently healthy, varied and rich in antioxidants, nutrients and minerals all year round is the best you can do to support your health and entire immune system. Focus on foods in their whole form, eat an abundance of vegetables and fruits, get a little sunlight daily, move and get enough sleep. It’s also a brilliant vitamin for helping our bodies absorb iron, something to bear in mind when you’re preparing your meals. A squeeze of vitamin-c-rich lemon juice in your green smoothie with help you better absorb the iron from your spinach intake.
What’s your view on vitamin C ‘therapy’?
Vitamin C is a crucial vitamin for our overall health; if high levels of vit C (when taken and absorbed through the blood- not mouth) can be beneficial to those with cancer, tumours, or virus’ then it’s a wonderful form of medicine. I use high-dose vit C when I can feel a cold coming on at home but I would always say to get a professional opinion before taking more than 3000mg – you don’t want to take high doses for a long period. However, it’s very hard to overdo your vitamin C consumption through whole foods.
What’s your go-to comfort food?
I love to make something that’s really nourishing on all levels, something warming and cosy like a sweet potato and lentil shepherd’s pie, a curry, or a Sunday roast are comfort favourites in my house!
What’s your family's classic meal?
We all eat a little differently in my household with 3 girls (1 veggie, 1 pescetarian, 1 omnivore – argh!) and my husband is a vegan and then there is me – and I am an omnivore too. So a classic meal for us would always be based around lots of lovely veggies, a roast is a great example where I would do an organic free-range chicken and also a homemade nut roast with gravy, so there’s something for everyone! Roasted and stuffed sweet potatoes loaded with black beans, hummus and a colourful salad are also a classic favourite.
We fully believe in balance in diet and all areas of life. What’s your ‘vice’?
Definitely, I couldn’t agree more! I love a good night out and I also love food – a good restaurant and good wine is heaven.