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April 2012 Feel Good

The healing power of food

The healing power of food

What we choose to eat really can make a difference to our health, says Susie Kearley

I didn’t used to believe in the power of God-given nutrition. It took some desperate times and an abysmal failure of the medical profession before I was ready to embark on a healing diet. It transformed my view of the way we eat and revealed the powerful effect of good nutrition on health.

Having seen the power of good food for myself, I studied and qualified in nutrition in 2008 and started helping others who were encountering mysterious and medically ‘incurable’ health problems. I ended up tackling everything from IBS, to food intolerances, to migraines and fungal infections.

The more I learnt, the more I realised how out of touch society is with the benefits of unadulterated plant foods, and how far our Western diet has strayed from the wholesome diet that God intended for his people.

To someone like me, who once delighted in the diversity of processed food, the revelation that wholefoods really can heal came as a shock. More so, when I discovered that in some circumstances, a very healthy diet has greater healing power than pharmaceutical drugs.

I saw a lady with a fungal infection which didn’t respond to her doctor’s treatment. These infections are notoriously difficult to treat because the organisms develop resistance to pharmaceutical drugs very quickly. However, a mild fungal infection which fails to respond to drugs can be remarkably responsive to a sugar-free, vegetable-based dietary regime. It works very simply by starving the pathogenic fungi of its favourite food: sugar. My client persevered with a diet consisting mainly of green vegetables, nuts and pulses to fill her up. This combination enabled her immune system to destroy the fungus so that she felt much better.

It made me think back to the story of creation and I realised that God has provided everything we need to stay fit and healthy: “And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:9).

God intended us to look after our bodies with nutritious foods and physical work for survival. He did not intend us to put our food into a deep fat fryer, add refined sugar, and then take drugs with potentially nasty side-effects to artificially lower our high cholesterol!

As I began to research nutrition, I came across numerous studies showing the health benefits of God’s natural produce. He has provided an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, containing disease fighting antioxidants, cancer-protective phytonutrients, bowel-friendly fibre and immune-boosting compounds.

Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, broccoli, butternut squash and tomatoes are all examples of foods that are loaded with antioxidants. They promote clean arteries, lower cholesterol and improve blood flow, as well as reducing cell damage and lowering your risk of cognitive decline in old age.

As we get older, many of us experience increased propensity to constipation! I usually recommend increasing a client’s intake of fruit and vegetables, which provides more fibre to improve peristalsis and aid elimination. However, this approach doesn’t work for everyone and this is where ground flaxseed becomes invaluable. Flaxseed works as a gentle laxative and is much better than chemical products which can have a detrimental effect on your long-term bowel health if used too frequently. Flaxseed is a rich source of omega-3 oils and a miracle cure for constipation. I would suggest people grind it to a powder and sprinkle it on their breakfast. Problem solved.

My journey revealed that most symptoms of disease improve with the right dietary intervention – the general rule is to eat more fruit and vegetables and cut out processed foods altogether. Meat, dairy and grains are controversial areas, but few experts would disagree that the average Western diet is lacking in fruit and vegetable nutrients: those with the greatest impact on healing.

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience indicated that fresh produce, high in flavonoid antioxidants, such as spinach and strawberries could be particularly beneficial in preventing the onset of age-related cognitive and behavioural problems. And Cambridge University Medical School showed that the antioxidant vitamin E, which is present in lots of green vegetables, is four times as effective as asprin (a blood-thinning drug) in reducing heart attack risk. For a more dramatic effect, the BBC demonstrated that eating cloves of raw garlic lowered cholesterol dramatically in just a week!

Studies have shown that the chlorophyll in green vegetables may provide some protection against cancer by blocking the absorption of aflatoxin which is a carcinogenic mould found on some foods. It is also widely accepted that phytoestrogens found in the brassica family of vegetables can help to protect against breast and prostate cancer.

God provides the raw foods to keep our hearts healthy and our blood pressure in check, but modern diets of processed food have stripped out many of the nutrients and added health-depleting ingredients. In the modern world, where health solutions are presented in a pill, it’s easy to overlook the healing power of fruit and vegetables.

So next time you go to the supermarket, spend more time in the fresh produce and wholefoods aisles. These foods can have a powerful effect on the healing process and you might just see the benefit reflected in your health.

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