Food + Diet

Herodotus said “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

This is reminiscent of the interchange between René Zuber and Gurdjieff, which Zuber recounted as follows:

“One day I ventured a remark. ‘In fact, Monsieur, cooking could well be a branch of medicine?’ which brought the response, ‘No, medicine branch of cooking.'”

Historically, medicine has been primarily plant-based. This was the case in pretty much all ancient cultures Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian (via Ayurvedic medicine), Persian (via Avicenna). This persisted up to the modern era prior to the advent of pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, that industry had its origins in herbal medicines, and some pharmaceutical products are compounds isolated from raw herbs.

However, the pharmaceutical industry prefers to create/invent new compounds—compounds found in nature are difficult to patent, and this constrains the potential profits.

Food is de facto medicine

Many of the herbs and spices we add to dishes when cooking are medicinal in the sense that they are known to be helpful for particular ailments. It is also true of some foods, such as onions, ginger, berries, some mushrooms, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, and seaweed. They all can assist particular conditions.

In general, from the nutritional perspective, we need a mix of fats, protein and carbohydrates, and to assist our gut bacteria, we need fiber. It doesn’t seem to matter much what form they arrive in. The various minerals the body needs will normally be found in the foods we eat (although our food can be deficient in some minerals).

Aside from that, we store a good supply of most of the vitamins we need. The prime exception is vitamin C, which we neither store nor metabolize but is usually abundant in the fruit and vegetables we eat.

Thus, if our diet is well organized, the immune system is receiving the help it needs to remain healthy.