“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
-Hipporcates 460BC – c. 370
In simple terms, holistic nutrition is healing the body with whole foods. Whole foods are inherently complete and perfect in their natural state. They are as nature intended them. For instance, picture an avocado, a head of broccoli or an egg – they contain balanced ratios of minerals, vitamins, fats, carbs, sugars and other nutrients that are vital to the body. These foods are not altered or stripped of their nutritional content in any way. Our body knows how to break them down to utilize them for maximum energy. In the ancient healing practices of Chinese medicine, many whole foods are considered herbs.
Holistic nutrition looks at the ‘whole’ picture. For example, it factors in the quality of the soil the food is grown in which impacts the nutritional value of the food, which in turn affects our health. Whole foods are most nutritious when they are organic, seasonal, locally grown and fresh. A farmer’s market a great place to begin your path into holistic nutrition!
Food in our modern world has become more confusing than ever before. Trying to determine what food is good for us can be overwhelming. There are so many questions; is soy healthy? What about dairy? What does ‘all natural’ mean? As man evolved, we ate what was present in the natural world – vegetation, fruits, nuts, seeds, animals and fish. Yet, we have strayed far from this path to one where processed foods have become the “norm” that most people depend on to get through their day.
Many people don’t realize that the ingredients in most prepared foods are artificial – they are not really food. Before eating something, ask yourself, “Would our grandmothers have cooked with these ingredients?” If you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce an ingredient on a label – don’t eat it!
In 1971 when President Nixon declared war on cancer, it was the 8th leading cause of death, today it 2nd to heart disease. Obesity is now a national epidemic and diabetes has become the 7th cause of death in the US. Especially concerning is the prevalence of diabetes in our children. Study after study has clearly established the links between these diseases and diet.
Holistic nutrition can also play a key role in fertility. To quote William Keye, Jr., M.D., past President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (2002), “…The more we discover about the effects of nutrition on fertility, the better advice we can give our patients.”
Holistic nutrition addresses digestion, balance and moderation for each person. Studies have shown that making the right food choices can prevent and help heal a myriad of health problems such as heart disease, autoimmune diseases, obesity and cancer. The old saying goes a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Not so. Studies have found that when it comes to calories, it is not a democracy – not all calories are created equal!
When it comes to eating and digesting, each individual is unique. You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eat” well “you are what you absorb”. Holistic nutritionists create diet plans that are tailored to each patient’s individual needs based on their current lifestyle and laboratory testing. Other key components of holistic nutrition are nutritional supplements and herbs. Merge Medical Center is a leader in the Charleston area for these kinds of treatments in holistic nutrition.