By Michael J. Dorfman
Around 2,500 years ago, a Greek doctor named Hippocrates did so much to advance medical understanding that he is revered as the father of Western medicine. Today, medical doctors take the Hippocratic Oath during their medical school education. Much of what is known about his methods comes from a collection of more than 60 medical books known as the “Hippocratic Corpus,” considered the oldest writing on medicine. His methods recommended a healthy diet and physical exercise as a remedy for most ailments. If this did not reduce illness, medication from plants was recommended.
Among the quotes often attributed to Hippocrates is, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Another one that I find especially intriguing is, “Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” What? Could that be true? Do we really have a doctor inside of us and it’s the greatest force in keeping us well?
If you think about it, our body has been working continuously since we were born to keep us healthy. When we break or fracture a bone, although the doctor puts on a cast, it’s the body that heals the bone. When we get a wound, the doctor applies the stitches or medication, but it’s the body that heals. Our immune system is constantly fighting our battles to ward off the dangers of invading toxins, viruses, bacteria, cancers, and even mutant genes. To keep us well, it keeps our hearts beating and lungs breathing. All this is done without our awareness or intervention.
According to Hippocrates, all we have to do is “help it in its work.” If we do that, the body has the capacity to prevent, stop, and even reverse illness and disease as long as we don’t get in its way and provide it with the food that it thrives on. Yes, it’s important to exercise, avoid stress, and nurture healthy relationships, but it’s what we eat that most impacts our health. Diets of today, which stress meat, dairy, eggs, and processed foods are the main reason for our suffering from chronic diseases and premature death. Populations in rural China, Japan, parts of Africa, and the blue zones—the longest living people on the planet—consume whole food, plant-based diets (i.e., grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds) and rarely experience the chronic diseases that we do. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on the government, the medical profession, or the pharmaceutical industry to tell us this. It’s up to each individual to explore and discover the options available and to make the right choices for optimal health.
Michael J. Dorfman, author of The Thriving Vegan, is an accomplished speaker and coach on the topic of plant strong nutrition. Join the San Miguel Facebook group: The Vegan Wave SMA (170+ members).