Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Food as Medicine - Help Heal Yourself

When my husband was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease ten years ago, we were alarmed to discover that the only way he could slow down the progression of the disease would be for him to carefully follow a restrictive diet. Eventually we realized this is true for many people with a wide variety of medical conditions. We have friends who have been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes (or pre-diabetes), cancer or various intestinal disorders such as C. Difida, and in many cases they have also been told the best way to improve these conditions is to follow the appropriate diet.

While there are similarities among the different healthy diets, each one has specific foods which tend to be emphasized in order to provide the patient with the best results.  Because of this, whenever you or a loved one has been diagnosed with any serious disease, it is important to learn about the specific diet which will best control that condition and either help you heal your body or, at the very least, slow down the progression of your disease.

Learn How Food Can Help You Heal

You may want to start your treatment program by discussing dietary changes with your doctor.  However, most physicians did not study nutrition in medical school.  As a result, they may not have any more information than a brochure to get you started down the right path.

Most insurance companies, including Medicare, will cover the cost of a visit to a nutritionist who can talk to you about your current diet and explain how you can make appropriate changes in order to support your specific healthcare regimen.  In many cases, a good nutritionist may also be able to include some healthier versions of your favorite foods so you do not need to give up everything you love to eat.  They understand that you will not stick to a diet if the food does not taste good to you.

In addition, you may want to pick up a book to use whenever your diet confuses you and you are not sure what to eat.  A good choice is "Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How the Body Can Heal Itself."   

Dr. William Li, a heart expert and the author of the above book, has pulled together years of research to come up with specific doses of the best foods to help treat a variety of diseases. Regardless of your medical condition, it is worth reading.



Special Diets Can Benefit You

What are some of the special diets you can try following in order to help heal or slow down your disease progression?


If you have been diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, you may want to use this Amazon link to  the book "Stopping Kidney Disease."

If you are concerned about memory loss, the MIND Diet has been proven to be helpful.  The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to improve heart health.  There are also special diets to help people who have been diagnosed with cancer and diabetes.  Reading about the correct medical-based diet for your condition can make it easier to find satisfying foods to eat. You can use this Amazon link to see a list of books for healthy diets and find the one which is most likely to meet your needs.

When I took the Brain Health Class with instructors from the MIND program at the University of California, they emphasized that there were no drugs which have been discovered which will either postpone or treat most cases of dementia, but they have observed that eating a diet rich in plants, in addition to getting regular exercise, did seem to make a difference for many people.

By following the right diet and making appropriate lifestyle changes, your medications will work better and you will help your doctors perform their job, rather than hinder them.

Does Diet Really Make Much of a Difference?

Despite all the research, many people remain skeptical that following the right diet can really make that much of a difference in treating their disease.  It is important that people understand that for some diseases, such as chronic kidney disease, the right diet is the ONLY thing which can slow down the disease and help you postpone dialysis.

Diet is also extremely important in dealing with diabetes, whether or not you are taking a medication.  In 2002, researchers compared the effectiveness of diet compared to taking the medication Metformin in preventing Type 2 diabetes in people who were considered at high risk. One group of people were assigned a diet which was low in sugar, salt and saturated fat. They were also told to eat lean protein, as well as to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to their meals.  The other group was told NOT to change their diets.  Instead, they were prescribed Metformin.  Those taking Metformin lowered their risk of of later developing diabetes by 31%.  The group who changed their diets and exercised regularly lowered their risk of diabetes by 58%.  The dietary and lifestyle changes were nearly twice as effective as taking the medication alone.*

In studies performed by heart expert Dr. Dean Ornish, it was discovered that people who followed his heart-healthy program were sometimes able to reverse their heart blockages and reduce their episodes of angina.

Eating the right diet for your disease is an effective way to deal with a serious illness.  When diet, lifestyle changes, medication and other treatments are combined, it can make a significance difference in the lives of most people.

Other Lifestyle Choices Can Help Fight Disease

Of course, food is not the only lifestyle change which might help your body fight off a dangerous disease.  It is also important to follow your doctor's orders regarding exercise, alcohol or sugar consumption, lowering your stress, and ending your addiction to cigarettes or other tobacco products.  No matter what disease you have, it is important to take a holistic or whole-body approach to the healing process.

If you are interested in learning more about common medical issues as you age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire, travel and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

* Source:  http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/lifestyle-changes-superior-to-metformin-for-diabetes-prevention/

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Photo credit:  morguefile.com

2 comments:

  1. I learned the importance of what we eat years ago, when I became violently ill. Food can help or hurt us, and it's wise to pay attention when experts speak about this subject. It's annoying to follow a restrictive diet, but it sure beats going to the emergency room.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment. I think a lot of people just eat whatever is easy, without giving it a lot of thought. However, eating the wrong foods can make medical conditions worse and eating the right foods can make many conditions better. It just makes sense to pay attention!

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