Awareness and conscious choices of foods we take into our body is an important key to living a healthy, holistic and natural lifestyle. In today’s article, we dive into the new science which finally answers the question: “How does food work as medicine?”
“With every bite of food you take, you are deliberately choosing which messages you want to send to your genome.”
– Sayer Ji, “Regenerate”
At Lotus Blossom Clinic, we’ve been teaching the science of using food as medicine for many years. Thousands of valid research studies have delivered clear proof about specific phytochemicals (plant chemicals) found in whole foods which have demonstrable impacts on health. This is for all aspects of health, from cardiovascular systems to our eyesight, fertility, healthy immune systems, healthy and happy brains, weight loss and more. BUT, the underlying mechanisms about how all this actually works was still a mystery. Until now.
In the spring of 2020, with lockdowns and Covid concerns driving so many aspects of our societal lives, a well-known medical researcher from SW Florida published a book named “Regenerate”, and the scientific explanations of the magical process of how food acts as medicine in our bodies became clear to me. First, here’s a quote from his book to get your mental juices going:
“Virtually all water in uncooked and unprocessed plant food possesses beneficial genetic-expression-modifying information. This is a profound departure from looking at water as a fundamentally material, inert bystander in biological systems, as has been the case for centuries.”
“Additionally, within the biological tissue of which they are composed, all foods contain the noncoding RNA molecules known as microRNA’s, which affect the expression of the majority of genes in our bodies, and stimulate biological pathways conducive to our species’ health and wellness. Packaged in exosomes, which are roughly the size of a virus (~65 nanometers), microRNAs survive digestion, whereupon they penetrate systemic circulation in the body and affect the structure and function of all our tissues.” – Sayer Ji, Regenerate
Raw vs. Cooked Foods
Let’s unpack this medicine-delivery mechanism and make it practical. Should we eat only raw foods, or is there value in cooked foods too?
The phytochemicals (plant chemicals) in our foods communicate directly with our cells via tiny molecules. Since these “medicines” are in the water of the foods we eat, often, the greatest health may be found in raw foods. We eat salads and whole fruits regularly and recommend a daily smoothie for everyone! Smoothies can be made for general health or be customized to address and help reverse health conditions. At the clinic, we offer blend options specific to each person’s needs.
How about Processed Foods?
The processing of foods can alter them a little…or a lot. One of my favorite foods, chocolate, is nearly always fire roasted and heavily processed. After all that alteration, it delivers only a small whimper of the medicine otherwise found in its raw form, called “cacao”. I’ve written extensively about the medicinal value of raw cacao (and my own healing). See links at the bottom of this article to learn more about this phytochemically-packed food, and among our approximately 200 articles, we have an entire menu option called “Chocolate” in our website Library.
Considering Cooked and Cultured Foods
Never fear, there is a place for cooked foods. Indeed, certain whole, cooked foods can be most helpful. For example, for someone with constipation, a warm and tasty, protein-packed sweet potato contributes the bulk of fiber to help move the bowels. Spices are often enhanced and made more absorbable when cooked with oil. One example of this is turmeric, which you often find paired with pepper (contains oil) to enhance absorption of the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin.
While most common foods used in salads and smoothies—the greens, the beets, the cucumbers, the fruit, the ginger, etc.—are indeed best acquired in their raw, uncooked form, cooking is a precursor to digesting certain foods. Two examples are beans and mushrooms. The cell walls of these foods cannot be broken down by our stomach acids. The chitin of the cell walls of a mushroom are quite tough and “woody”, so mushrooms require cooking to break down the chitin barrier. Otherwise, the medicinal messages inside cannot be freely transmitted/absorbed and would just pass through us.
Some of these mushrooms are the basis of certain medications such as Lovastatin found in Oyster Mushrooms. We use medicinal mushrooms extensively in Chinese Medicine, although mostly in supplement form because you have to consume a LOT to acquire enough of the phytochemicals. These are excellent natural medicines for immune system issues such as cancer and MS.
Regarding beans, who wants to chew a dried bean with the consistency of a small rock? Obviously, we would be missing out on much or most of the nutrition available therein, such as B-12 to help energize our bodies!
Also, fermented foods, aka cultured foods, are exceptionally healing. They are altered to a pre-digested-like state via the fermentation process, and they readily absorb to interact with our cells and tissues. They provide us with probiotics (pro-life) to balance, energize and heal.
An Herbal Study
An example of healing potential of a microRNAs comes from an animal study using the Chinese honeysuckle, which is a traditional remedy for colds and flus. The study demonstrated that a microRNA isolated from this honeysuckle is delivered, via the bloodstream, straight to the lungs. That’s the area of active influenza infection. Once there, the study showed it targeted and inhibited the replication of influenza A virus. (Note: we’ve seen it help prevent or shorten many types of flus and colds.)
Quite possibly our favorite, most-used Chinese Herb is Yin Chiao (aka Yin Qiao). We believe everyone should have this in their medicine cabinet, and we typically pair it with Gan Mao Ling as a preventive. These herbal blends have been highly successful for us and our patients…not to mention being helpful for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.
To sum it up, the messages in the water molecules of whole foods (organic and non-GMO is best) are powerful creators of health and healing. Science has finally proven that they work by entering our cells at a microscopic level to turn gene expressions off or on. This is Nature’s intelligence at work.
Whole and natural foods have evolved with humans and other creatures over the millennium, so it shouldn’t surprise us that these foods, when used appropriately, are function-altering, life-giving, nourishment for our bodies to keep us healthy and well.
I encourage you to check out Sayer Ji’s book, “Regenerate”. You’ll find it fascinating and eye opening. For those into the research of it all, this book is heavily laden with research citations.
References & Helpful Links
Regenerate – Unlocking your body’s radical resilience through The New Biology. Hay House, Inc, 1st Edition, March 2020. Buy on Amazon.
“Chocolate as Medicine”, Deb Martín
“The Chocolate Diet”, Deb Martín
May Food be Your Medicine,
Dr. David and Deb Martin
Lotus Blossom Clinic
Serving the Greater Fort Myers area with Natural and Holistic Medicine, including Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Massage, Science-backed Food as Medicine, Laser Therapy, Energy & Transformational Sessions…and Community Classes & Events both Virtual and In-Person!
We are not M.D’s, Nutritionists, or Dieticians. Vickie Gelardi and Deb Martín are certified in the Conquering Any Disease, a High-Phytochemical Food Healing System, and they work under Dr. David Martín’s directions with his patients, helping them incorporate his dietary guidelines into their lives to improve their health.