Nutrition is a cornerstone of a comprehensive alternative medicine health care regimen. Sound dietary choices provide a firm foundation for well-being, and may obviate the need for other interventions in certain conditions.
After all, alternative medicine is more than herbal substitutions for pharmaceuticals to treat ailments. It is making good lifestyle choices to prevent ailments, and a healthy diet is one of the most fundamental lifestyle choices.
Healthy Food is Health Food
Health food is not only what is found in the health food store. Organic farmer’s market produce and local honey are both “health foods” that fit an alternative medicine regimen. Whole grains and monounsaturated fats like olive oil can be had at any supermarket, and are every bit as important to a healthy lifestyle as any superfood supplement. In most cases, the health benefits of a particular food are the consequence of interplay between multiple compounds in the food, so the whole food is more useful than a “health food” supplement. Even something as benign as juicing a goji berry or pomegranate eliminates the fiber in the fruits that has its own health benefits.
The Role of Health Food in an Alternative Medicine Program
First and foremost, good nutrition keeps a body healthy, and a healthy body is more resistant to developing pathological conditions, and is better able to heal itself without additional interventions. Once a healthy baseline diet is established, particular health food items can benefit alternative medicine programs to suit individual health care needs. Many everyday foods have mild to moderate health effects, like orange juice in treating colds. Other foods that get stocked as seasonings, such as turmeric used in curries, have benefits far beyond added flavor.
Integrating Health Food Into an Alternative Medicine Regimen
Incorporating foods for their nutriceutical effects should be done with the same care as adding any other supplement or drug. Foods, even whole foods, can interact with other parts of the treatment plan. For instance, grapefruit can increase the absorption of certain compounds used to treat ailments, whether they are from herbal or conventional sources. Soy products may interfere with iron absorption, so may be contraindicated for those with anemia. On the other hand, tomato may increase iron absorption, so the benefit of the tomato’s lycopene needs to be balanced against a potential for iron toxicity.
If you are using health food or alternative medicine to substitute for other medical intervention, particularly for acute or serious conditions, consult a nutritionist or dietician to ensure that a nutritional solution is appropriate.