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Real food as medicine
If you are trying to prevent or heal from a chronic illness, do not underestimate the power of a real food, nutrient-dense diet!
Many folks would agree that a healthy diet is important to overall good health, but very few actually understand how truly therapeutic real food can be!
Those who say that food is medicine, not only believe that nourishing food can prevent illness, but know that it can often cure as well!
I’m excited to report that there are many new “food as medicine” initiatives happening now around the country and world!
The Healing Power of Real Food
This post is the second in a 2-part series on the healing power of real food.
In my first post, Real Food as Medicine – Part 1, I offer very practical beginning steps to improving your diet.
Perhaps you already follow these steps or you would like to know how to go deeper?
This post is for you.
If you haven’t yet read part 1, you can read that here.
To quickly review, here are the “5 Baby Steps” covered in part 1:
- Read Labels
- Shop the Perimeter of the Grocery Store
- Prepare foods yourself
- Get rid of processed, pre-packaged or “junk” food from your home
- Follow the “80/20 Rule”
5 giant steps: How to start eating real food
Let’s move on to the next steps in beginning a real food healing diet.
These are more challenging steps so I advise that you take it one step at a time.
1. Buy Organic!
You can drastically improve your family’s health by buying organically grown food.
Not only do organic foods have significantly less chemical residue (even organic produce can have some traces of chemicals due to drifting) but foods grown using organic farming practices are usually more nutrient-dense due to healthier soil conditions.
Modern farming practices strip soil of vital nutrients while organic farmers use more sustainable farming practices which promote richer, healthier soil.
The USDA requires that foods with the certified organic label are grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides. They are also GMO-free.
It’s essential to your family’s health to avoid GMO’s! Learn about the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s)
Help Your Immune System
If you are serious about improving your family’s health, take a serious look at how you can reduce your family’s toxic load.
An organic diet can really help.
Our immune systems can only handle so much before becoming overloaded. Many healthcare practitioners would agree that an over-taxed immune system is a key factor in the development of chronic illness.
Many parents become discouraged because they feel that they cannot afford organic food.
While it may be true that organic food is more expensive, it is not impossible to get more organic food into your family’s diet!
It’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be an “all-or-nothing” decision to eat organic. There are ways to make eating organic more affordable. Here’s how:
Tips for Eating Organic on a Tight Budget
- Grow your own organic vegetable garden.
- Buy organic food items when they go on sale.
- Buy items on the “Dirty Dozen” list. Every year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a list of the 12 most pesticide-laden produce items. Perhaps you can begin by making a commitment to purchasing these organic produce items. It’s a great place to start! Check out the dirty dozen list here.
- Shop at your local farmers market. Many local growers do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Ask before you buy!
- Buy organic, pasture-raised meat, but eat less meat! Because the meat is so much more nutritious, you can actually eat less! Stretch the meat by adding it to soups, stews or casseroles. If organic, grass-fed meat is twice the price, eat half as much! Don’t throw out those bones either. You can use them to make tasty, nutritious bone broth. How important is eating organic, pasture-raised meat you say? Very! Here’s a great article on the importance of avoiding factory-farmed meat. There is a very significant difference in the quality of the meat. I don’t have space to explain it in this post, but I highly recommend that you find out more here.
- My favorite healthy food blogger has written this post with some great ways to make organic food affordable!
- A few years ago I heard someone say that “you can either pay the farmer, or you can pay the doctor.” That quote has stuck with me over the past few years and has been really helpful when I struggle to justify a more expensive food purchase. We have had very few doctor bills in recent years, so I am optimistic that our healthier diet is paying off! You can not put a price tag on good health!
- Eating a healthier real food diet requires more time in the kitchen. For this reason, I have had to pare down my schedule to allow for more time for food preparations. Saying “no” to fast or convenient food means adjusting my schedule to include more time in the kitchen.
2. Make Bone Broth
One of my favorite things to make for my family is homemade bone broth.
Bone broth is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It is very nourishing and healing. Not only that, but it is also very affordable to make!
Do you remember hearing in year’s past how grandma would always make homemade chicken soup for sick family members?
I was always under the impression that it was the garlic that made this soup so special. But it wasn’t the garlic, after all. It was the medicinal broth!
This broth is made from leftover bones that are first soaked in water with apple cider vinegar added, and then slow-simmered to extract vital nutrients such as gelatin, collagen and minerals.
You may have heard of the bone broth craze since it is one of the newest trends in health food.
However, bone broth is really an ancient, traditional real food that is centuries old.
Many cultures have their own version of this medicinal broth. The nutrients in bone broth are known for supporting overall immunity and for promoting joint, hair, and skin health.
Bone broth is also well known for its amazing gut-healing properties. Many nutritional gut-healing protocols include daily use of bone broth to assist the body in reversing various conditions including autoimmune disorders, cancer and Lyme’s Disease.
It is very easy to make bone broth once you figure out a process that works for you.
Here is a great article with a video that teaches you everything you need to know about making homemade bone broth.
In addition to sipping the broth by itself, bone broth can also be used as a base for soups, stews, sauces and gravies. One of my family’s favorite and most economical meals is homemade chili made with grass-fed ground beef, bone broth, pre-soaked beans and lots of celery and other veggies. Yum. Yum!
3. Eat Fermented Foods
Another category of real food that I would highly recommend adding to your family’s diet would be fermented foods.
Because of naturally occurring probiotics found in these fermented foods, they have great gut-healing super powers!
These highly nutritious traditional foods have been around in many cultures for a very long time. For example, Korean’s have kimchi, Russian’s have kombucha, and German and Slavic cultures have sauerkraut.
One of the most commonly known fermented foods in the United States is yogurt, which is cultured (fermented) milk.
Kefir, which is another form of cultured milk, is also becoming more common in Western diets. Unfortunately, many store-bought varieties are made with sugar and food additives, significantly reducing its medicinal benefits.
Try making your own yogurt and kefir using the easy recipes below. Add local raw honey and fruit to sweeten them.
Like bone broth, fermented foods are surprisingly simple to make! For a more in depth look at fermented foods and some great recipes, check out these 2 fermenting guides:
Here are some more easy recipes and videos below:
4. Avoid Pasteurized Dairy
While many people still consume pasteurized dairy, more and more folks are developing an intolerance to it.
Why? Because milk was never intended (in nature) to be heated to high temperatures.
That is what happens when milk is pasteurized, killing most of the milk’s nutrients, beneficial bacteria and naturally occurring digestive enzymes.
This process renders milk virtually indigestible. There are also those who believe that because pasteurized milk has been damaged, the milk is toxic and unsafe to drink.
Here is one such article here.
Happy Cows Make Happy Milk 🙂
While it is certainly true that factory-raised animals do not produce safe milk without pasteurization, grass-fed animals are raised in very different conditions.
Cows that are free to roam and graze on green pastures are much healthier than animals raised in confinement and forced to eat a diet that is not natural.
Comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges. Yet that is what most advocates for pasteurization often do. (source)
The dairy industry is a big money producer.
Modern farming practices promote mass-production of milk which translates into bigger profits for the dairy industry.
Cows raised on factory-farms may spend their entire lives indoors without proper exercise or sunshine. When cows are raised under these conditions, pasteurization is, unfortunately, necessary to ensure the safety of the milk.
Health Benefits of Real Milk
Cows allowed to graze on lush pasture produce rich, nutrient-dense milk.
Because the nutrients in real milk have not been destroyed during the pasteurization process, raw milk is full of vitamins, minerals, probiotics and digestive enzymes, making it far superior to pasteurized milk.
In addition, the naturally occurring digestive enzymes make it much easier to digest. If you are lactose intolerant or cannot tolerate pasteurized milk, you may be pleasantly surprised how good you feel after drinking this healing milk!
5. Eat Traditionally-Prepared Grains, Nuts and Seeds
This is something that is not very well known in modern food preparation, but can reap amazing health benefits!
If you study traditional cultures and their food preparations, you will learn that many traditional societies never ate grains without first soaking, sprouting or fermenting them.
Why? Because they were smart!
You see grains, nuts, and legumes are seeds. All seeds are basically indigestible. They contain a substance called phytic acid, which protects them from rotting or being digested by animals.
Even when consumed whole, seeds are known to completely pass through an animal’s digestive tract and be completely viable! This is a mechanism designed by Our Creator to protect the seed and allow the plant to reproduce. (source)
Traditional societies learned how to prepare these foods to deactivate the phytic acid and make them more digestible.
Unfortunately, we have abandoned these wise practices in our modern food preparations, in order to save time and money in our fast-paced modern world.
By properly soaking, sprouting, or fermenting grains, nuts and legumes, they are not only more digestible, but far more nutritious!
Try soaking, sprouting or fermenting (sour dough) your grains to drastically improve their nutrient content.
Especially If you suffer from digestive disorders, food allergies or other chronic illness, I encourage you to learn more about this healthy traditional process.
Start your research here.
The Danger of Glyphosate
You may have observed that there are so many people now days who are on gluten-free diets.
Every time you turn around someone else is gluten-free! Have you noticed this trend?
Perhaps this is you and you have a very hard time digesting gluten. Is it really the gluten that is bothering so many people or could it possibly be glyphosate which is sprayed on the U.S. wheat crop?
Glyphosate is the main ingredient found in Monsanto’s Round Up.
It is routinely sprayed on the U.S. wheat crops before harvest to help dry down the crop to ensure a faster, more abundant harvest. (source)
This is another great reason to buy organic!
Makes a lot of sense, right? Spray toxic weed killer on our wheat supply just days before harvest and then harvest and sell the poisoned food to unsuspecting consumers. Unbelievable! But, thanks to the EPA and the FDA, this practice continues with no sign of stopping!
Many food activists, scientists and healthcare professionals theorize that it is the glyphosate residues that are causing damage to our gut flora, contributing to all the digestive issues (and the rise of chronic illness) in the United States.
Interestingly enough, I have spoken to “gluten-free” friends and relatives who have traveled to Italy and other countries who have banned Round Up, and they have no adverse effects from eating wheat products while visiting those countries!
*Disclaimer – The information in the post is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. I am only sharing my family’s journey towards better health. Please make sure that you talk with your doctor if you are experiencing serious health concerns.
How has eating real food helped you or someone you know heal from chronic illness? Please share!