In the field of nutrition, it is now generally agreed without a doubt that a healthy diet promotes cardiovascular health and protects against some types of cancer. Thousands of studies examining the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and cancer risk have demonstrated the protective effects of these dietary elements. Compounds thought to help protect against cancer include a wide range of antioxidants such as vitamin E, C, beta-carotene, and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) such as flavonoids, etc…Many foods are notorious for their healing properties; for example, omega-3 fatty acids (flax oil, fish oil, …) for vascular inflammation, tomatoes (lycopenes and carotenoid) for protection against certain types of vascular and malignant disorder, garlic for serum cholesterol and lipoprotein and immune boosting power, avocadoes and soybeans for osteoarthritic pain, etc…
Optimal nutrition plays an important role in both the prevention and treatment of most chronic illnesses. It is clear that many patients want advice about what they should eat and that they want this information from their physicians. Naturopathic physicians are trained to provide comprehensive and thoughtful counseling to patients about nutrition. There are foods that people can eat to improve their digestion, elimination, and thyroid/adrenal/ovarian functions. There are foods that people can eat to reduce pain, menstrual cramps, prevent headaches, etc… Naturopathic doctors are trained to assess the nutritional status of patients, to recommend individual diets, and to understand and support the psychological needs of patients changing their diet. In talking about using foods for medicine, it is important for physicians to also discuss how environmental issues impact food safety and public health, expose patients to various culture aspects of nutrition, and how genetic engineering of foods will affect that person’s health.
I am convinced that good nutrition makes a huge contribution to improving health and that a basic program of eating healthy live foods and balanced meals, as well as supplementing with a good multiple vitamins, has potential of helping 70-80% of patients within 6 weeks. Simplicity plays a key role in my philosophy about the practice of medicine.
By Dr. Mylinh Vo, ND, ABAAHP