Specific Foods Have Been Historically Recorded Documented As Traditional Remedies
Why has it suddenly become acceptable for foods to be considered remedies or at least beneficial to specific health issues when not that long ago foods were “officially” thought of as being completely irrelevant to a person’s health and well being?
Not that long ago any suggestion that foods had beneficial health effects could not be mentioned for fear of censure. People in the alternative health field have always had to tread very lightly because even suggesting something as benign as water to quench thirst, is quite illegal. Presently, “celebrity” doctors of all kinds are openly speaking about the health benefits of foods that almost everyone in the alternative health field had already known for well over a century in North America and for millennia in the rest of the world.
In some cultures the specific health benefits of certain foods are well known and applied in everyday life. Recently, a few friends went to a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner and the owner, who knew us quite well, noticed that one of us had a cold. He suggested a specific dish from the menu that would help with the cold and offered to further spice it to make it even more beneficial. Sure enough, it worked. After having eaten our friend left without the stuffy nose and sore throat he had walked in with.
In the Orient this is quite common. Last I heard this is still being taught in school as part of their cultural heritage. To them this is as natural as breathing. Similar knowledge used to be part of the curriculum in pre-WWII European elementary schools but, for reasons that are unexplainable, not any more.
“Grass Roots” Change
In the past twenty years people, at a grass roots level, have been talking more intensely and taking an interest in the quality and value of foods themselves as medicines. This knowledge is slowly becoming more familiar to people. Could it be that the health effects of specific foods are so obvious that they can no longer be denied? In North America it has certainly been a long time coming.
Foods are chemically complex. So much so that a complete analysis of all that is in any food is difficult to ascertain. There are individual chemical elements that are easy enough to identify but, they also form complex molecules made of the same elements that can do more than just the element itself. How many of these combinations there are is nearly impossible to know.
Food Is More Than Just Food
Foods have properties that by doing nothing more than placing them into our mouths can stimulate saliva, be warming, cooling or stimulating in some other way; to say nothing of the complex mechanism within foods that give them their characteristic scent and flavor. All these things together suggest that common, every day, real foods consistently produce effects that are particular to their species. To extend that fact; if foods can do this through smell and on our taste buds then, when chewed and swallowed that effect can only continue as the food passes on its properties to the body after digestion.
Some common foods are known to be anti-inflammatory, some hydrate, some are calming, some are stimulating, some soothing . . . it is not too much of a stretch of the imagination to extend that reasoning to suggest that some foods can literally be healing!! It would seem that it is within the very nature of real foods themselves to function as organ modifiers otherwise their effects could not be witnessed and would not be apparent. In some cultures this is taken as a matter of fact. In North America we seem to have been taught to deny it, question it, not believe it and to generally ignore it.
If it were all about antioxidants or “active ingredients,” nutrition would be a very quick study. If this were all that foods are about, foods could be made artificially and still be just as nutritious as real food but, that is certainly not the case. Many modern foods are made that way but, even though they may look like food, they are often non-foods that detract more than contribute to good health.
Some may wonder how the foods they are eating ever came to be foods in the first place. This is an excellent question. The very simple answer is that at one time what determined the value of food was strictly based on survival; making food choices critical, more obvious and reliable.
Food determined where people lived. Often cultures were built around their food. People were acutely aware of what their food consisted of, where and how it grew; how to grow it, cultivate it, culture it and preserve it. It was clear that food came from the Earth, out of Nature. Cycles exist in Nature. People observed them and the natural energies present in them, to take full advantage of them by simply planting and harvesting crops or, slaughtering livestock at specific times. It meant the difference between an abundant yield and food being less prone to spoiling.
Presently, some laugh at these seemingly naive practices but, prior to 70 ago, without them no one would have survived. This is currently an almost lost art still practiced in the jungles of central and South America and anywhere where people are still knowledgeable of Lunar, Stellar and Earth cycles.
It is obvious that traditional foods are part of our cultural heritage. They have proven themselves to be safe, nutritious, life sustaining, health maintaining just as they are. These products of Nature were either picked fresh and eaten or, prepared and combined with other foods. Most were cooked, fermented, smoked or salted into thousands of different types of foods, all well suited to the environment of each culture.
Beware of Foods That Are Not Foods
At present, few know much about the food they are eating or even care. Survival is no longer a primary consideration when it comes to food as it is taken for granted. Little thought is given to what is being eaten or what is in the food. With all the nasty chemicals used in food processing is it any wonder that a majority are chronically sick because of it?
Many foods are been rendered virtually artificial; the life having been removed from them to preserve their shelf life. They are bought less out of actual hunger and more because the endless marketing entices people to. For many, food is not a staple of life any more, its just a nicely packaged product that happens to be edible.
The concept that foods can indeed be used as remedies for what ails us is very, very slowly becoming part of the modern consciousness again after having been nearly erased from the cultural memory. Food is gradually being respected as a staple of life by those who are part of this rediscovered awareness. They want to know more about food; what’s in it, how it’s grown, where it comes from and the lore that had been part of that food for thousands of years before marketing and big business got in the way of everything good to do with food and nutrition.
Food Is Central To Good Health!!
It is impossible to get completely well without consideration to what we are eating. To any Herbalist, Naturopath, Homeopath or Osteopath it is presumed that when a correct remedy is being given that it should be taken with a conscientious consideration to a proper diet for it to be completely effective. And finally; now even some MD’s are starting to accept this concept. You’ll see them on the talk show circuit or on PBS reciting what practically everyone else in the alternative health field already knew quite well at least 100 years ago.
Countries in civil wars that have massive populations of starving people excluded; should you ever speak to people from other parts of the world – to them being sick is a rarity. Most live their whole lives without ever knowing sickness and die a quick peaceful death in ripe old age. Their lives are by no means perfect and they do not live in a paradise. They get their physical activity from daily physical work. Most of them attribute being sick with something they had likely eaten than with some unknown virus.
You rarely hear about these people because few ever bother talking with them. When they come to live in North America they complain about not feeling well. They relieve their maladies by returning for a brief stay to their Tropical, Central or South American, European or African countries, to do nothing more than simply eat the normal foods of those countries and, for the most part, their problems go away. No meds; just good, real foods.
It is not too much of a stretch to logically conclude that people get sick from what they are eating or, more accurately, their habitual non-food or chemically laced diets? Most simply cannot fathom this because they believe that with all the regulations for food safety in place that they are being protected without ever considering that public policy is more often the result of bought influence rather than genuine public interest. Even though we hear more and more that fast foods, processed foods and food additives are a major cause of ailments; most, having misplaced their common sense, will just eat what’s in front of them, chemicals and all and then wonder why they’re sick.
If stands to reason that if bad foods can potentially make you sick, good foods should go a long way towards restoring health again. We see it over and over again, in study after study, and even in anecdotal documentaries like “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead!” Which proves that at times one of the fastest ways of getting well is by eating relatively little or only eating certain foods; something that some have done with great success, long before resorting to a remedy – natural or otherwise. Sometimes no food, is the best food. Especially, when we do not feel good from what we have eaten.
Everything Has Its Own “Food”
Even machines “eat!” Machines are built around the fuels they are intended to operate with. Your car’s food is gasoline, your fireplace requires wood, your computer uses electricity, etc. Lions need meat, deer need certain grasses, otters need abalone etc. We as humans can eat whatever we want, but, some things would certainly be better for us than others.
Good foods are their fuels of all living things. Sometimes one food is more appropriate than another depending on what we need at that moment. On a hot day we find watermelon cooling. On a cold day, we find a spicy soup warming.
In the Orient there are practically no species that are off limits as far as being edible as foods. In a culture that recognizes the medicinal value of everything natural, that is understandable. Although practically everything that walks, flies, swims or crawls has been eaten at one time or another, we in the West tend to limit what we eat to animals and plants that have been domesticated after having found them to have been reliably fortifying, sustaining and even curative over several thousand years of continuous cultivation and husbandry.
For as much as we may be disgusted by some Oriental dietary habits, we seem to have overlooked the fact that we in the West have now adulterated many or most of the foods we eat. It would seem that even the bugs being eaten in the East would be better for us than our own traditional but completely adulterated foods.
Good, healthy, clean, natural foods eaten in moderation have never been a cause for concern. Traditionally, meats were eaten less often because livestock served several essential functions making it too valuable to slaughter with too much frequency. Smaller animals like goats, sheep or hogs were slaughtered long before cattle or horses. Traditionally, most common folk ate foods from the vegetable kingdom, milk from their cows and milk products that could be derived from it as well as poultry. Meat was eaten somewhat sparingly and often in a cured or preserved form to see them through Winter.
In general, heavier foods like meats, although fortifying, if over consumed can be congesting to the body. In which case, they are sometimes cooked with fruits, spices and some salt to make them more digestible.
Most of the remedies that come from Nature are from the mineral, vegetable or animal variety. All are important and each affects the body differently. Many have become our everyday foods.
A Closing Thought
It is impossible to mention all there is to be said about every aspect of food, food production and food practices in any page, post or book. The important thing to keep in mind is that we all depend on food – real food, for our life and health. Anything that should get in the way of or threatens that should be suspect and even boycotted.
Presently, we live in a time of conflict – conflict in the broadest possible sense. People are feeling it more and more. It would seem that our lives and what we need to sustain it is under attack and food is very much at the center of it. Because food is so important to life, has an inexhaustible market and is extremely profitable, there are conflicts of interest at all levels centering on food.
If it were up to some of the food producing corporations, they would render our foods chemically inert and devoid of any biological activity (life) in an ongoing effort to make them indefinitely shelf stable consumables for the sake of preserving their investment in the stock of their “food products.” Recently, in Utah a news report stated that someone had kept a McDonald’s Big Mac for over a decade without it discoloring, rotting or molding. Not sure but, they were talking about selling it on eBay. How ridiculous is that? If that was already possible over a decade or more ago then, what has “food science” been up to since?
It would seem that food regulations are at the point that this is what is being expected of all foods that are intended to be manufactured and packaged. If this keeps going as it is, our foods will become biologically inert on the pretense of addressing health concerns, real or imaginary, at the expense of food value. And, you thought people were already pretty sick as it was!
The best solution is to make a personal responsibility to eat better and become more vigilant about what we are eating. There are still small local farmers around. Source out a local farmer who sells directly to the public. Grow your own garden and prepare your own foods. Sadly, these too are all under legislative threat!!
What is the world coming to!!