- Edel Curcit
The food we eat is one of the main causes of disease. As malnutrition increases, so do the diseases associated with it. But can food be used to solve the world’s health problems instead?
Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical texts in the world, is 110 pages long and contains a collection of remedies and was written in 1500 BC. The text found between the legs of the mummy-made body in the Egyptian tomb contains instructions on plants to eat to treat various ailments, and offers 811 medicines to treat a variety of ailments ranging from mental illnesses to crocodile bites.
The “Hippocratic Collection” was frequently published by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, widely regarded as the “father of modern Western medicine” (modern scholars believe that this collection was written by many healers who followed Hippocrates).
The group includes honey to treat insomnia and infected wounds, winter cherry to improve eyesight and toothache, basil to soften the intestines and treat infections, and gum arabic for birth control. In total, 40 percent of the treatments in this group are made from 44 plants – 34 of which are consumed as food.
In addition, the use of foods to prolong life is mentioned in traditional Chinese medicine, Mediterranean medicine, Ayurveda and many other ancient texts. To this day, these texts continue to serve as a source of inspiration for contemporary health trends. In some parts of the world, tribes and aborigines use hundreds of edible plants as solutions by adding them to their diet.
However, the vast majority of the world’s population relies on modern health care systems, which play a relatively small role in treating or preventing foodborne illness. In contrast, food is widely depreciated and portrayed as the primary cause of heart disease through over-consumption and malnutrition.
But there is now a consensus that a healthy diet is not only a way to prevent these health problems, it can also cure the disease.
So how do we improve the diets of people around the world to prevent disease? Can food be reused?
The medicines you can find at home are actually inspired by many edible plants. These plants have the ability to synthesize compounds that are beneficial to us, enabling them to act as effective chemical catalysts.
Melanie Jane Howes, a research leader in phytochemistry and pharmacology at the Royal Botanic Gardens Q, says, “Plants can actually be described as brilliant chemists who have already done a lot of work for humans.
Instead of developing a new drug that requires a lot of time, effort and more chemical resources, it is better to use phytochemicals as a raw material for drug design and development. The steps used in the manufacture of this drug, “he says.
The first discoveries of certain chemicals in edible plants that led to the development of new drugs may have been made by accident, in some cases by accident, or by how these plants were traditionally used, but may have occurred in large-scale edible crops. This may help scientists. These chemicals are very easily available.
“I would define ‘food medicine’ as the integration of food and nutrition into the health care system,” says Derry Mossafrian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutritional Science and Policy at Duffts University in Massachusetts, USA. “Science says a lot. It is clear that this can be done to treat and prevent the disease.” “Food and nutrition are the main cause of poor health in every country in the world. However, it is often overlooked by health care systems, health care discussions and ways. Funding for health care.”
But scientists have also found ways to use the diet to reverse the course of the disease by providing a clinically designed diet for patients with chronic illnesses or by prescribing specific products for people with food-sensitive conditions such as diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure. .
For example, providing a diet tailored to the nutritional needs of cancer, HIV and AIDS patients and diabetics has been shown to halve post-hospital admissions for those on a personalized diet and reduce health care costs. Up to 16 percent overall.
Researchers in the United States are conducting experiments on new, carefully selected diets recommended for people with type 2 diabetes and low-income mothers – known as “farm” – to help improve their health. Many hospitals have professional dietitians to help improve patients’ recovery through better nutrition.
But the notion of using food as medicine can have a far-reaching impact on human health as well.
It is estimated that 10 foods contribute to almost half of all deaths from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes in the United States each year. These deaths are caused by people consuming very few nuts, seeds, omega-3 rich seafood, vegetables, fruits and grains or high sodium, processed meats and sugary drinks.
Historically, health advice in most developed countries has focused on controlling the consumption of “bad” foods and harmful substances such as sugar and salt. But there is a growing awareness that even in rich countries, large numbers of people do not have access to nutritious foods to stay healthy.
The world is not yet on track to reach the goal set by the World Health Organization to end global hunger by 2030, but the corona virus epidemic has pushed that goal further back.
Malnutrition – which includes all kinds of nutritious foods from your diet, including essential nutrients and obesity – is a problem that affects people around the world, including in developed countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly two billion people are malnourished, and that 928 million people – 12 percent of the world’s population – were severely malnourished by 2020. This number is 148 million more than in 2019.
According to Hillary Celikman of the University of California, San Francisco, “Food insecurity is directly linked to chronic medical conditions, as people living in unsafe families may not be able to eat certain essential foods. When a family focuses on getting food, other health-promoting behaviors such as physical activity and drug withdrawal are unlikely to be a priority.
Food insecurity puts great pressure on health care systems. In the United States, health care costs for heart disease are estimated at $ 316 billion per year and $ 327 billion per year for diabetes.
“When you ignore food in these investments, if you think about how much money each country spends on health care, you will learn a lot about the global epidemics we suffer from today, such as obesity, prediabetes and diabetes,” says Mozafarian.
“Increasing health costs around the world cannot be offset until we first improve our diet,” he adds.
Proponents of diet medicine can eliminate or reduce some chronic diseases by increasing access and availability of healthy foods and learning more about them, while dramatically reducing maintenance costs worldwide.
But there are some challenges. Seligman says current programs in the United States focus on relatively small, already sick groups and are designed to last only two weeks or two months.
In the United States, a person admitted to the hospital with heart failure can receive food according to their condition for six weeks or a child registered at a weight control hospital can receive a diet of fruits and vegetables for three months. However, it can take years or even decades for the benefits of nutritional intervention to materialize, meaning that the patient must continue to make lifestyle changes without medical help.
“If we can support a child by eating a healthy diet throughout his or her childhood, there will be big long-term benefits that are less costly,” Celikman says. “But it’s not going to happen quickly, for example, we can avoid it.
The epidemic has brought renewed interest in healthy eating, but access to good quality, nutritious foods is not easy for everyone, even in developed countries. Healthy foods are often expensive, meaning they can only be accessed by those who have the means and privileges to tolerate a wide variety of food options.
Therefore, helping to make nutritious food available to the underprivileged is a challenge. Some inventors are trying to increase nutrients in major crops around the world.
In Africa, many staple foods, such as whole grains and root vegetables, are low in essential micronutrients. The result is a problem called “hidden hunger”, which appears to be plentiful but does not actually have the necessary vitamins and minerals.
Currently, about 19 percent of Africa’s population is malnourished. For example, in East Africa, 35 percent of women of childbearing age suffer from anemia – a rate that ranges from 19 percent in Rwanda to 54 percent in Mozambique – where iron deficiency is the leading cause. Also, iron deficiency is worse in children.
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