With regard to your health, food is everything and food is nothing

So, let’s start with the obvious: the food that the majority of our country eats is not good. If you are eating packaged foods, convenience foods, or any other processed food (and this includes drink, which would really be anything outside of water and herbal tea), it is a major problem for your health. The type of fuel that you put into your engine will dictate the performance and longevity of it. Garbage in equals garbage out.

Now let’s move past the obvious and into the world of nutritional recommendations and diets. As of right now, these are the ones I can think of (and I’m sure there are plenty more): Paleo, GAPS, Atkins, Anti-inflammatory, South Beach, Ketogenic, Altshift, etc… If you really break it down, all these dietary recommendations are built around similar principles, but each has their own specific guideline. The cornerstone of most diet plans that create benefit for people is tied into these concepts, 1) whole food nutrition, 2) reduction of certain types of sugar and carbohydrates, 3) reduction of inflammation.  I believe all of these principles are relevant and have healing properties that contribute to the health of each individual. But then what? Often in my practice I have found that patients come in and they have already been on these diets. The curious thing is that they are still experiencing the same symptoms that they had before starting these diets.  This is a little puzzling. One would think that if you eat the right type of food, that should equate to health. Well, that is true, but only partially.

Another concept that is worth discussing is this idea that our food supply is so depleted that we can’t get the proper nutrition from food anymore. I’ve seen the studies, and it does make sense that the amount of iron in spinach 100 years ago was x number of times greater than it is today. Supplement companies use this rhetoric to drive people towards believing they need supplementation to achieve optimal health. Remember, health is not found in a bottle. There never has been nor will there ever be a substitute for whole food, even if it continues to become depleted.

We have to remember that food is really only two things, fuel and medicine. As far as fuel goes, as I stated above, you have to fuel the engine properly or it will break down. And if your engine is broken down, then the proper food choices can begin healing the engine. But this will only take one so far. Once a person becomes consistent with their nutritional choices (and yes, if you are looking to maintain health, you have to be consistent with what you put in your body for the rest of your life), you will learn that food only takes you to a certain point with your health and really is not as relevant as you might believe it to be.

As far as the medicinal side of food, here are some simple correlations between the 3 “real food” groups and how they help the body heal:

  1. Fruit- detoxifies. Fruit has a high electrical charge that supports the detoxication pathways within the body. This helps to support elimination through the kidney and liver and create an alkaline environment. Berries and melon are best. If you have high blood sugar, you need to stabilize this before you begin detoxifying.
  2.  Vegetables- builds. Within veggies are the nutrients needed to build our structure and physiology. They do not burn as fast through the system as fruit, but the density of their nutrients supplies the body with needed vitamins and minerals to maintain proper pH.
  3. Meat- stabilizes. If you are dealing with any type of blood sugar dysfunction, Nature created meat for us to quickly stabilize this response in an effort to break the “fight or flight” pattern. This is the beneficial side of meat. The downside is that is acidifies the body and slows the kidneys.

I have created a simple flow chart (which I put into words here) to help one understand what is the best fuel for them:

Eat meat and veggies if you are under constant stress (either physical or emotional)

Eat meat, veggies and fruit as stress begins to subside.

Eat veggies and fruit after stress has been abated and you are working to rebuild physiology.

Eat primarily fruit as you move to a place of balance and continual detoxification.

NOTE- this is not, and will not be, a perfect model within our culture. Your work is to understand–based on your temperament–what are the best nutritional choices for your self care.

So, to sum it up: food is very important, but once you have created a self care nutritional plan (i.e. you know what you need to eat to feel good), now the real work begins!  This work is centered around your detoxification pathways , along with your daily self care plan that supports healthy blood and lymphatic flow in your body.  It’s also related to your belief system, and how you choose to interpret adversity in your life in the effort to reduce fear (see my blog post on reduction of fear). It is centered around rewriting the story of your life to a narrative that inspires you to help others in your own unique way (not through codependency). All of this is about learning how to take care of yourself as you grow closer to your spirituality (God, Nature, etc.). If this is not achieved, symptoms will reoccur and disease progression will continue, in spite of proper nutrition.

Food is everything in the beginning (and remember, you cannot go back to putting garbage in the engine), but food is really nothing  (an understanding of the work that is needed beyond changing nutrition) in the quest for true health.


Naturopathic physician who is educating people about their health in order to empower them to practice self care.