Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine

It has long been a tenet in natural medicine that you can prevent and cure disease by changing your diet. What’s fascinating is that modern medical research is belatedly arriving at the same conclusion.

It’s the emerging scientific understanding of the crucial role that bacteria plays in our digestion which is set to revolutionise the way we treat disease and promote wellbeing.

To cut a long story short; if you eat well you cultivate healthy gut bacteria. If you eat a poor diet with lots of refined foods then the impact on your gut bacteria is calamitous and that has big consequences that can take years off your life and leave you vulnerable to a host of conditions ranging from heart disease, to cancer, asthma, allergies, arthritis, autism, depression, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

The crux of this story comes down to link between the bacteria in your gut and the functioning of your immune system. Basically it is in your gut where your immune system gets schooled on what is benign and what needs to be attacked. If you’re lucky enough to be born vaginally then this education starts at birth where, as you pass through your mother’s birth canal, you are populated with lots of healthy bacteria that caesarian babies miss out on. Similarly if you’re breastfed, you ingest the perfect nutrients to support development of healthy bacteria.

Of course the other common factor in the decimation of healthy gut bacteria is the exposure to antibiotics. Clearly each medical intervention has its place but they also all have their consequences.

Even having the best possible start doesn’t count for much if you feed your gut bacteria the wrong kinds of foods. Prolonged exposure to a typical modern Western diet, which is overly reliant on processed foods and significantly lacking in fiber is enough to send your healthy bacteria packing and importantly, develops a tendency towards systemic inflammation. Now inflammation may not sound too scary but it is code for a malfunctioning immune system and is the same mechanism that drives autoimmune disease and a whole lot of nasty disease processes, so take heed!

Oh and the other evidence emerging from the latest research is that vinegar can help restore the healthy gut bacteria. That’s what naturopaths have been saying for centuries. It’s good to be getting everyone on the same page at last, Hippocrates would surely be smiling in his grave.