Diet Therapies


diet“Let Food be Thy Medicine”

Hippocrates, recognized as the “father of medicine” for his accomplishments nearly 2500 years ago, said “Let thy food be thy medicine”.

Diet therapy is a broad term for the practical application of nutrition as a preventative or corrective treatment of disease. This usually involves the modification of an existing dietary lifestyle to promote optimum health. However, in some cases, an alternative dietary lifestyle plan may be developed for the purpose of eliminating certain foods in order to reclaim health. For example, the latter kind of diet therapy is often recommended for those who suffer from allergies, including those that are not food-related. Elimination diet therapy is often found to be helpful in improving symptoms associated with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity in children.

There are also a number of diet therapy models that are intended to target or promote greater resistance to specific conditions. Often, these diets are named after a particular region or culture that regularly consume certain kinds of foods and are relatively free of certain diseases. For instance, the Mediterranean Diet stresses the use of healthy sources of monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil. It’s also abundant in lean meats, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables, while red meat and dairy are limited. Studies have shown that those who embrace this kind of diet can significantly reduce cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.

Diet therapy may also be employed in the prevention or supplemental treatment of cancer. The intake of high levels of antioxidants and bioflavonoids that come from many fruits and vegetables deters oxidative stress in the body, which may help to prevent many types of cancer. Specifically, vegetables in the mustard family, such as broccoli and cauliflower, may decrease the risk of stomach and colon cancer. In addition, limiting total fat in the diet to 30 percent of total caloric daily intake may reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer.

Condition-specific diet therapy typically calls for the use of a checklist of foods to eat and, more importantly, foods to avoid. For instance, diet therapy for arthritis consists of anti-inflammatory foods, and the elimination of foods high in oxalic acid and those known to decrease calcium absorption. Diet therapy for depression, on the other hand, seeks to promote increased production of certain brain hormones, such as serotonin, by increasing complex carbohydrates, B vitamins, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Hippocrates, recognized as the “father of medicine” for his accomplishments nearly 2500 years ago, said “Let thy food be thy medicine”. Meanwhile, ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptian athletes and warriors are known to have consumed the meat and organs of specific animals based on their respective physical attributes (e.g. strength, endurance, ferocity, etc) and/or to have taken concoctions (e.g. beverages) made from plants based on their physical performance benefit beliefs.

Nutraceuticals are substances found in natural foods that seem to have the potential to prevent disease or be used in the treatment of various disorders.

Meanwhile, functional foods are the foods in which one or more nutraceuticals can be found. Nutraceutical substances include some of the more recognized nutrients, such as vitamins C and E and the mineral calcium, but also include such substances as genestein, capsaicin, allium compounds, carotenoids (e.g. lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin) phytosterols, glucosamine, catechins (e.g. EGCG), fiber (e.g. psyllium, oat bran) and so on. 

Nutrition is the master healing science. All else is mere remedy at best. Nutrition necessitates lifestyle change, while other methods, effective as they may seem, are temporary if nutritional changes are neglected. We cannot hope to get well by taking medication and consuming junk food… all other therapeutic disciplines are secondary to nutrition… Nutrition is the Master Science and stands above all other sciences in the healing arts.”
- Dr. Bernard Jensen