December 24th 2009 - FOOD IS OUR BEST MEDICINE
by Dr. Rene David Alkalay
Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” said, “Let food be your medicine.” Throughout history, health care trends and fads have risen and receded. Today there is a vast array of food fads and it is little wonder that the average consumer finds themselves lost in variety that is available. However, one truth continues to emerge is the wisdom of Hippocrates in connecting good health to nutrition.
We need food to live and at those times when food is scarce our ability to survive has been largely due to the fact that we are omnivorous, that is, we eat just about everything. This is a distinct advantage when we were competing with other animals for food sources. Many animals are specialized eaters and when their food source disappears, they simply become extinct. Yet, our very strength easily becomes our weakness. The variety of food available to us today is perhaps greater than at any time in history, and yet we are considered among the most undernourished people in history. Food and nutrients are simply different ideas.
Ideally, we would get our nutrients from our food. Today, many of the foods sold are nutrient poor and are not supplying our bodies and minds with their needs to continue functioning effectively. This is reflected in the dramatic rise of chronic and serious diseases and an overburdened health care system.
The understanding that particular foods may be healing for particular conditions is a very old idea. We’ve quoted Hippocrates, but we also find stone and papyrus records dating back to 4000 BCE that present the concept of special foods for various health conditions. Food has been a standard part of health in every part of the world. In this sense, foods were used as “drugs,” or more correctly, as medicines, as were herbs and other substances from the natural world around us.
Many of the drugs that we currently use come from the plant kingdom, or are chemical imitations of substances found in plants. It is with the advent and advancement of pharmaceutical drugs that consumers en masse have turned away from the natural sources that have healed and sustained the human race throughout our history.
An interesting development has occurred. The medical community, along with studies in modern science, has revealed that most chronic illnesses are indeed related to diet and lifestyle. What we eat may not be what we are, but it certainly plays a role in how we feel and the general functions of our bodies. In the vast food choices put before us, it is more difficult and yet more essential than ever to make intelligent choices.
How do we define health? The general medical definition is that health is the absence of disease. Yet, most of us have an intuitive understanding that this is not a sufficient definition of health. Health is an optimal condition of the body, mind, and spirit. It is a state of balance and harmony. Health is a state of vitality in which we experience joy and an excitement in living. It is the condition of being “whole,” a state of gratitude for the gift of life, of being fully alive in the present moment, and anticipation for the next moment of being.
Rene David Alkalay is a Naturopathic doctor and has been in practice since 1970. He has worked with thousands of individuals with “incurable” and terminal diseases and helped them to re-discover their birthright of good health. He has worked specifically with cancer and heart disease patients, as well as diabetics, and individuals with chronic liver disease. He is in private practice and the spiritual director of the Tree of Life Yoga and Wellness Center in Forest Hills, NY. If you have health concerns or health questions, you may reach Dr. Alkalay at 718-544-5997. Visit the website at treeoflifeyoga.net
Genesis Tree of Life Wellness
102-02 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375