center for food as medicine

What Food as Medicine Means and How To Look For It On Food Labels



Food as Medicine recognizes that we can get a lot of the nutrients and vitamins we need to thrive in life if we eat the right about of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals found in certain food. It recognizes that the nutrients and compounds present in the foods we consume can influence our physiological functions, support disease prevention, and promote overall vitality. Here are seven ways to understand food as medicine and what to look for when shopping consciously.


Nutrient Density

Food can be seen as medicine due to its ability to provide essential nutrients that support overall health and prevent illness. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats supplies the body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that boost the immune system and protect against diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.



Anti-Inflammatory Effects

The idea behind food as medicine is to consume food that nourishes the body. But it seems that through the industrialization of the modern world, our food has become highly processed. Most snacks and packaged food at the grocery store are filled with complicated ingredients and industrial preservatives that strip most nutrients away. 

Because of this, people are consuming essentially toxins that are caused chronic inflammation, which is linked to various health conditions, including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers.

To reduce the constant inflammation induced by these toxic foods we should be looking for snacking options that include vitamins such as omega-3 fatty acids, compounds found in turmeric such as curcumin which is the compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Compounds found in ginger, such as Phenolic and terpene that help avert the damage of cells resulting from free-radical oxidation, and other anti-inflammatory healing properties. Antioxidants and bioactive ingredients found in berries might include flavonoids that serve as anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. They also provide neuroprotective and cardioprotective effects. These bioactive compounds can help reduce inflammation in the body and promote better health.




Gut Health

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in overall well-being, including immune function, mental health, and digestion. A diet that includes fiber-rich foods (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and fermented foods (like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir) promotes a healthy gut microbiome, aiding in digestion, nutrient absorption, and disease prevention. Cognitive Performance: Certain foods have been shown to enhance cognitive function and protect against age-related cognitive decline. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds support brain health. Blueberries and dark chocolate are rich in antioxidants that improve memory and cognitive function. Consuming a balanced diet with these foods can promote better cognitive performance.


Stress Reduction and Relaxation

Certain foods can have a calming effect on the body and help manage stress. Foods rich in magnesium, such as leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, can help relax muscles and promote a sense of calm. Herbal teas like chamomile and lavender can also aid in relaxation.



Focus and Mental Clarity

The brain requires proper nourishment to maintain focus and mental clarity. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, dark chocolate, and green tea, provide neuroprotective benefits, improve blood flow to the brain, and enhance cognitive function. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and walnuts support brain health and cognitive performance.


Longevity and Disease Prevention

A healthy diet can contribute to a longer and healthier life span by reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Diets rich in plant-based, clean label foods, low in processed chemicals, and limited in added sugars and unhealthy fats have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Food as medicine should be something we can enjoy without having to introduce harmful processed ingredients.



Incorporating these dietary practices into your lifestyle can serve as a form of preventive medicine, promoting overall health, longevity, cognitive function, relaxation, and focus. It is important to note that individual needs and dietary considerations may vary, so consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is recommended for personalized advice.

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