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Dr. Richard Isaacson

Food as Medicine: A Holistic Physician’s Guide to Nutrition - Part I

In my holistic medical practice, my belief is that each and every one of us is a unique body/mind/spirit entity, and how we heal is unique and individualized.  Drawing from Asian concepts of health and healing, my goal is to help my patients reestablish balance so that healing can occur.  Amongst the tools that I use are acupuncture, homeopathy, vibrionic medicine, nutrition, herbal medicine, mind-body approaches, and prayer.  In this article, I highlight the use of food as medicine, a concept that Western medicine has long forgotten, and one that continues to play a significant role in non-Western healing traditions throughout the world.

Food as Medicine:

In ancient times, food was our ancestors’ first medicine.  In fact, Hippocrates, considered one of the founding fathers of Western medicine, said:  Let thy medicine be thy food, and thy food, thy medicine.  In my work, my goal is to facilitate gentle changes in food choices and habits so that my patients can experience the healing power of food, and find meals pleasurable and satisfying.

General Guidelines: 

While each and every one of us has unique nutritional needs, the following are general guidelines.  How each of us responds to specific foods is unique and individualized.  While a certain food substance in one individual may be curative, in another it may aggravate symptoms or a condition.  I provide specific details regarding a patient’s individual constitution and dietary needs, including meal schedule, frequency of meals, and snacks. 

Some of us are more sensitive to food choices than others, and individual constitutions may be more or less tolerant to some of the suggestions below.  Follow these general guidelines, but keep in mind that your nutritional needs are unique, and you may have specific needs that differ somewhat from the information below. 

Make changes gradually.  Your body has all the wisdom it needs to heal itself, but it also needs gentleness.  There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods.  Cravings for foods and/or substances considered “unhealthy” are merely signs that on one or more levels (body/mind/spirit) you are not getting all that you need.

Food choices:

* Our bodies recognize the nutrients in food that are closest to their natural form and that have not been chemically or mechanically altered.

*Try to eat fresh cooked food that is in season whenever possible.

* Try to avoid frozen food and leftovers.  Food that is cooked and then refrigerated or frozen, not only has little nutritional value, but can actually be toxic to our bodies.  When we eat food that is lacking in nutritional value, we may develop cravings, and may overeat to compensate for inadequate nutrition.

* If you have been advised to eat animal protein (beef, poultry), make sure it is organic.  Non-organic sources contain HGH (human growth hormone) and antibiotics.  HGH can affect endogenous hormone activity, and should be avoided especially if you are dealing with male or female reproductive organ issues (breast, uterine, prostate).  Antibiotics can interfere with the natural flora that live in our intestines, causing digestion and absorption problems.  Also, they can interfere with our immune function.

* If dairy products are part of your diet, make sure these are organic.  Non-organic sources contain HGH and antibiotics.

*  If you include fish in your diet, make sure it is fresh, not farmed, and local.  Farmed fish is often fed growth agents and antibiotics.

* The best dairy products are made from raw milk (milk that is not pasteurized).  Raw milk products contain all the necessary enzymes and nutrients needed for proper digestion.  Pasteurization destroys these natural enzymes.  Foods that lack these natural enzymes can contribute to malnutrition and overeating as the body tries to compensate for the lack.  See for sources of raw milk by state.

* Try to eat produce that is organic, and in season.  Our bodies are sensitive to the change of seasons, and recognize most optimally the nutrition from foods that are local.

* Regarding grains, avoid all processed white flour and grains.  Eat only whole grains.  I provide specific details regarding grains for each patient’s individual constitution.

* If you eat out at restaurants, and have been prescribed animal protein, try to choose a source that you are certain of, unless the restaurant is reputable and uses organic sources.  Fresh, unfarmed, local fish would be safer than poultry or beef.

2006 Patricia A. Muehsam, M.D.

Dr. Muehsam is a holistic medical doctor practicing in New York City. She can be reached by phone at (212) 946 - 5700.

Click HERE to see Dr. Muehsams listing on The Healing Directory.

• A version of this article was published in The Epoch Times on April 03, 2006

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