Nutrition

Food as Medicine

What do diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression, being overweight, burnout, stress, high cholesterol and degenerative diseases have in common? They’re all directly linked to the quality of the food you eat and how physically active you are on a regular basis. Because in fact, your body can’t maintain its homeostasis if you don’t eat the right kind of diet and work your muscles enough. Let’s take a closer look at why.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

anthiny-berthouThis series of articles was written by nutritionist Anthony Berthou, who specializes in sports nutrition. On his blog he likes to share his approach to nutrition, which is to make it possible for anyone to take charge of their own health thanks to a balanced diet, regular physical activity and knowing exactly how to reach their fitness goals.

“YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT”

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When you eat a fruit, you bite into it with your teeth, then digest it with your saliva and your stomach and finally absorb it with your intestine. The nutrients then go into your blood, then into your cells and lastly, do their jobs, which are determined by your genetic code that adapts to your environment. In a manner of speaking, what makes up the apple is now an integral part of your cells.

Cellular machinery is incredibly efficient: no matter what the situation, it keeps its balance called homeostasis. It’s almost like having a really good general contractor for your house who’s able to keep it in perfect condition no matter what happens: any broken appliance would be repaired or replaced, any dated room would be automatically renovated or given a makeover, everything would be perfectly tidy and if, despite all these efforts, the house no longer completely could do its job, you would get a new one right away. A pretty nice way to look at it, right?  This is how the cell reacts to the irritation or constant disturbance that it’s exposed to. It even goes so far as to program its own death in order to give way to a young functional cell.

It gets more complicated when aggressive factors (such as the environment, chemical molecules, oxidative stress, excessive stress, etc.) become too strong or when the cell doesn’t have the nutrients it needs in order to function properly. Imagine how the general contractor would react if he received cinder blocks in a delivery instead of bricks, or if someone asked him to build walls without his team of workers. That would be problematic. This is what happens when the cell is faced with an illness: it loses its ability to maintain homeostasis, to exchange between other cells are disturbed and stops playing its role effectively as a defender. That’s why it stops adapting to its environment, when it may anticipate programing its own death. This is when functional disorders manifest, namely a reduced quality of life and even biological disturbances, which arise before metabolic disorders or degenerative diseases occur.

MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AS A SOLUTION IN MAINSTREAM MEDICINE

Confronted with the diseases in modern society, doctors have developed allopathic medicine (1) using molecular biology. To put it simply, when faced with cell dysfunction, research focuses on the molecule that will be created in order to restore optimal function (a molecule that will be patented by pharmaceutical labs, of course) and your body reacts accordingly to adapt to this external disturbance. So, when enzyme activity is blocked, this makes it possible to reduce the production of the molecule that’s causing the problem, but doesn’t come without its side effects, such as blocking all the other molecules that are produced afterward. Take statins for example, to make this concept easier to understand: when you have a high level of LDL cholesterol, a doctor will commonly prescribe a statin. This inhibits an enzyme in your body called HMG-CoA reductase, which makes endogenous cholesterol synthesis possible. This pathway is blocked when your body produces any other kind of molecule. However, Coenzyme Q10 is essential for its proper function. Consequently, there’s an increased risk of fatigue that’s linked to the side effects of taking this statin, such as muscle pain or even muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis).

OUR DIET MODEL HAS COMPLETELY CHANGED

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Admittedly, medicine has become more and more precise and efficient for a specific organ or in terms of our understanding of the human genome, which shows that we’ve made significant medical advances, but you shouldn’t let that distract you from what it is as a whole and how it impacts the environment. Allopathic medicine is the opposite of holistic medicine (2), and yet it’s one of the founding principles of life, just like how the so-called modern diet is so dramatically different from the one that our genetic make-up was programed for: over the last 10,000 years, the human genome has evolved by less than 0.001%. Yet our diet model has completely changed over the past few decades: we’ve gone from berries, vegetables, seeds and wild meat to soda, McDonald’s, puffed cereal, aspartame, premade meals and chicken raised with hormones and antibiotics. Let’s just say that this is the reason for most of today’s illnesses in a society where there’s plenty of food to go around. Consumption has replaced nutrition in an environment where foods that have been given flavor enhancers for your enjoyment outmatch the significant impact on your health by what’s on your plate.

All of us are key players in our health. We have the power to choose what we want to put on our plate and the power to move more or to give ourselves some time to let our mind relax. We can prevent illness before it occurs by using food as médicine.

On this blog, Anthony Berthou will cover 10 key topics, helping you combat the illnesses of modern society and optimize your health and physical and mental wellness thanks to nutrition. Stayed tuned!


(1) This refers to general medicine. Allopathic medicine involves administering active substances for the purpose of controlling or neutralizing the causes or effects of diseases. For example, if you have a headache, your doctor will prescribe you something to relieve the pain, without trying to figure out what the causes of your headache may be.

(2) In contrast, holistic medicine looks at the entire human body, meaning that it takes physical, psychological, social, ecological and spiritual factors into account to diagnose, understand and cure diseases. For example, homeopaths practice holistic médicine.

The Author

FizzUp Staff

FizzUp Staff

As passionate bloggers, the FizzUp Staff’s sole purpose is to motivate the community with insightful and fun articles. Team spirit is one of our core values, whether we’re at work or exercising together in the FizzUp Box.