People are continually looking for quick fixes to the problems that plague them. This is reflected by the massiveness of the supplement and pharmaceutical industries, which generate billions of dollars every year selling everything from weight loss products to blood pressure-lowering medication to herbal extracts to caffeinated energy drinks. The offered products are sometimes presented and portrayed as magic bullets, highly effective at producing a particular outcome. Many of them do indeed have an effect; however, it tends to be short-lived and/or superficial, as well as have unintended adverse consequences.
Instead of reaching for these types of seductive offerings right off the bat, it arguably makes a lot more sense to give healthy eating a try. It might not seem as exciting, and is going to require more discipline than swallowing a handful of pills on a daily basis; however, the potential reward is also going to be that much greater. Actually, I’d argue that nothing comes closer to being a ‘magic pill’ than healthy food.
Almost all disease is diet-related
The food we eat affects every aspect of our bodies, ranging from our brain function to immune operations to musculoskeletal fitness. In many instances, the impact is profound. For example, diet composition is one of the key determinants of gut microbiota composition and immune system regulation, which in turn are major determinants of health. Hence, it’s not surprising that unhealthy eating has been linked with almost every disease under the sun, ranging from cardiovascular disease to acne vulgaris to colon cancer to autoimmune illness to Alzheimer’s disease (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
In light of this information, it comes across as disturbing that the conventional medical apparatus places so little emphasis on diet as it relates to health and disease. This negligence starts back in medical school, which largely glosses over nutrition, and from there continues into clinical practice. I find this concerning not just because many patients aren’t getting optimal care, but also because it purports and upholds the idea that diet isn’t that relevant to the fight against disease, which is obviously incorrect. Actually, I’d argue that in a majority of cases of chronic illness, nothing is more relevant.
Many patients are probably going to be reluctant to change their eating habits, much rather preferring a prescription for pills than for healthy eating, but this may change somewhat if they are presented with a clear, convincing rationale for going the dietary path. At the very least, they should be informed that diet matters (a lot), not just with respects to the prevention of disease, but also with regards to the treatment of it.
A healthy diet is not a panacea, but it’s the closest thing to it
On this site, I’ve repeatedly stressed that a healthy diet is only going to get one so far. If you are severely microbially/parasitically compromised, don’t move around much, regularly sit in bed late at night immersed in the digital world of your blue-light emitting phone, and/or otherwise score poorly in some major health/lifestyle area, you’ll obviously have to address those issues to achieve true wellness. Also, perhaps needless to say, genetic and epigenetic predispositions are obviously going to factor into the equation.
With that being said, a healthy diet, by itself, can do wonders for a lot of people. This is reflected in the scientific literature, which shows that healthy (evolution-informed) eating can bring about dramatic improvements in glucose metabolism, cardiovascular health, inflammatory variables, and cognitive function, among other things (e.g., 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). This clearly highlights that prudent nutrition is a potent, all-round inducer of health.
As I see it, nutrition should be a priority in the prevention and treatment of virtually all diseases. That said, it’s obviously going to be of greater relevance to some disorders than others. In particular people who suffer from obesity-related conditions, such as type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia, would be wise to make diet a primary concern of theirs, as I see it.
If you’re a diet-conscious ancestral health enthusiast, then you’re probably already cognizant of the fact that the food we eat has a dramatic impact on our health, and you may perhaps perceive this article as redundant. Bear in mind that not everyone possesses your awareness though. The reason I feel an article such as this one has relevance is that a lot of people, including many sick individuals, appear unaware of just how important nutrition is to the prevention and treatment of disease. Many look for pharmaceutical and supplemental fixes to their problems, when they’d actually be much better off pursuing health through dietary means.
It feels self-evident that food is of the utmost significance to bodily wellness, given that it basically enters into us. The recognition is neither mystifying nor new, yet it’s frequently ignored. Moving forward, we may be wise to heed the advice of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who reportedly once said the following:
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food