Food as Medicine
I just returned from an exciting and delicious conference called Food as Medicine. I was lucky enough to attend it with one of my dear friends and we were both able to stay with another dear friend. So win-win-win for me! I love going to conferences. It’s always an inspiring experience and this conference was no exception. Even an experienced practitioner has more to learn and I definitely took away some nuggets from this training. I thought I would share some of them with you and will be diving into some of the topics further in upcoming posts.
Food as Medicine
First, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the title of the conference. We get so wrapped up into the day to day of our lives and sometimes just getting something on the table can feel like a herculean effort. But let’s take a moment to fully appreciate that food IS our medicine. Every day, every meal, we have the opportunity to nourish and heal our bodies. I love this! Some of us may have years of negative associations with food or meal-times. This concept of food as medicine flips the negativity on its head and puts the power of health and nourishment back into our own hands.
The conference was primarily focused around brain health and the gut-brain connection. Perfect for the focus of my work! In my next post I'll be diving deeper into the microbiome and how it’s absolutely in our best interest to maintain good microbial diversity. First and foremost this is accomplished with lots of vegetables, fermentable fibers and probiotic-rich foods. I'll post some lists of these foods soon.
The research between digestion and neurology is growing and is undoubtedly showing connections. With a healthy gut comes a healthy brain. It also makes you wonder if perhaps the growing rate of neurological disorders (anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, dementia, etc) might be connected to inflamed and unhappy guts with lower rates of microbial diversity? This will be another important topic I will be covering further in a future blog post.
I had the privilege of meeting one of the foremost Integrative Neurologists exploring this exact topic; David Perlmutter, MD.
This conference was hosted by the Center for Mind Body Medicine. So of course the connection between our emotional health and all things digestive and brain-related were explored. We investigated mindfulness techniques to help us re-connect to ourselves, our health, and our food. One particularly fun exercise we did was a group 5-minute shake followed by dancing. Thankfully everyone had their eyes closed so the fear of being judged was quickly relieved. It was surprisingly fun and energizing. We also spent some time reviewing the importance of Vitamin Z (aka sleep) and Vitamin L (love). This reminds us that we can't reach optimal health without taking into account all aspects of our lives.
So in summary here are the main points I came home with and was excited to share with all of you:
- Let each meal be an act of love for yourself and those you are feeding.
- Think ancestrally – what foods were available before the food industry started packaging all of our food.
- Microbial diversity is key to so many aspects of health; including your brain.
- Feed your microbes so they don’t feed on you. (Eeek!)
- You can never get enough vegetables and especially those with fermentable fibers that feed and nourish your microbes.
- Include probiotic sources of food in your diet every day. Homemade sauerkraut is an easy was to do this. I learned how to make it at the conference and can’t wait to try it. I’ll report back on how it goes.