National Nutrition Month: Let food be thy medicine

Mar 3, 2021


March is National Nutrition month and what a great season to highlight nutrition; just in time for all the fresh spring and summer fruits and vegetables in our Central Valley!

What is nutrition?

A definition of nutrition is "the process of providing or obtaining food necessary for health and growth." What foods do you think do this for you? I hope your answer includes lots of fruits, vegetables, protein and a variety of healthy fats, such as oils and nuts.

Begin with the rainbow

Good nutrition habits can be developed as a young child and then broadened with age and experience. Exposing children to different fruits and vegetables gives them a good foundation for a long life of healthy food choices. A good way to increase exposure is to think in terms of colors. Have a rainbow of colored foods they can choose from; cherries, strawberries, tomatoes, beets, apples, bell peppers, radishes, carrots, apricots, squashes, peaches, oranges, bananas, mangos, corn, pineapple, avocado, spinach, asparagus, kale, kiwi, blueberries, grapes, raisins, eggplant, plums, jicama, onion, and cauliflower. With variety, children are less likely to become bored, and playing with the rainbow of colors will bring creativity and fun.

Color is key to fighting certain cancers

The color of food brings in different phytonutrients which not only keep plants alive and healthy, they can also help prevent cancer and reduce inflammation in us! Vegetables red in color may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer and can protect against heart and lung disease; yellow and orange are rich in beta carotene which helps repair damaged cells and may assist in killing tumor cells. Green, blue, and purple foods can block cancer-causing compounds (carcinogens), are rich in antioxidants (anti-aging) and help prevent blood clots!

For so many in our community who suffer from diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and obesity, adding a few extra colors to your plate can have enormous health benefits. Some easy ways to incorporate new foods would be to pick one new-to-you food each time you're at the grocery store. Over several months you will have tried many new foods and hopefully have started to incorporate them into your daily life.

Food is fuel

What you put into your body affects your performance. If you fill your body with refined carbohydrates (white rice, white bread, pasta), fast food and pre-packaged, highly processed foods (chips, frozen pizza, 'junk food'), you will feel sluggish, bloated and tired. When your diet becomes deficient in vitamins from fresh foods, you may begin to feel the above symptoms and develop true deficiencies that may result in acid reflux, hair loss, obesity, elevated cholesterol, inflammation and pain. Think of food as fuel for your body and give it the very best!

Most patients who make small changes in their diets to include more fruits and vegetables feel better. They have more energy, improved sleep, weight loss and reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

In a time when life feels out of control and chaotic, one thing you can control is your nutrition.

"Let food by thy medicine and medicine thy food." ~Hippocrates, Green physician

By Amber Simson, FNP-C, Adventist Health Medical Office – Lemoore