Food as medicine is an idea I talk about a great deal in my book, Eat to Beat Disease. As our medical system struggles with the great burden of diet-related diseases, the worlds of nutrition and medicine are starting to collide. The only way to comprehensively bring down the cost of healthcare is to decrease the number of people who are sick.
When it comes to dietary risk, the basics are clear. We are not eating enough “good” whole, plant based foods, and we are eating too many of the “bad” hyper-processed foods. These basic tenets are the groundwork and must be a baseline for food as medicine. There are no superfoods… or super drugs for that matter. Without a healthy diet, we are stuck with temporary solutions to symptoms rather than long lasting treatments for the underlying disease.
There have been amazing innovations in food as medicine, and how specific foods can be taken beyond the basics of the healthy diet just described. In my field of angiogenesis, we’ve found that when foods are looked at in the same way pharmaceutical drugs are examined many of these foods can actually go head-to-head with commonly used drugs.
Some examples of this include:
- Soy contains isoflavones, which are antiangiogenic. Several human studies show that consuming more soy is associated with lower breast cancer risk and lower risk of dying from breast cancer.
- Tomatoes contain lycopene, another antiangiogenic molecule. Studies in men have found that those who eat more cooked tomatoes have a lower risk of prostate cancer
Other foods with antiangiogenic activity include blackberries, apples, red wine, bok choy, turmeric, chestnut, green tea and dark chocolate.
For a deeper dive into this, listen to this talk I gave at the Exponential Medicine conference on Food as Medicine: