Diet is a very close and personal aspect of life, and eating is often seeded deeply within the subconscious mind. With that being said, making health modifying changes to your diet is not always an easy task. Yet for those who understand the value of healthy eating within the endeavour toward addressing health and disease, there are critical approaches needed when considering how to use diet as an effective medicine. 


Individualized medicine approach 


Without a doubt, there are an abundance of wholesome healthy foods out there, and eating a variety is certainly key. That being said, when it comes to eating to treat disease, it’s crucial to make sure you’re include the right foods to treat the right disease. There is enough validated evidence out there to show that there are very specific foods and approaches that can help improve and eliminate very specific diseases. From specific cancers to diabetes, if you eat specific foods in specific ways, you can begin feeling assured you are medicinally working at treating health and disease. My medical practice is highly focused on preventative medicine and cancer, so I easily create food lists specific to each and every potential cancer. 


Potent doses, frequency and duration are key


Step one, as outlined above, is to ensure you’re consuming the right foods to treat your specific illness or disease. The second key to success is to be diligent on ensuring you’re eating the right amount of required foods. Using cancer as an example, I speak with many folks who personally opt to switch from a highly processed meat eating diet to that of a more plant based approach. I also commonly hear that many patients chose to begin vegetable juicing, drinking smoothies, or even adding in specific superfoods to their current diet. The problem however, is despite making healthy improvements, illness and disease continue to persist. When it comes to eating certain foods, obtaining the right potency of medicinal compounds is what it’s all about. Those who ‘juice’ to help treat their cancer, for example, often need to understand that in order to begin seeing positive progress within their diagnosis, repeated juicing throughout the day (2-6 times per day for predetermined bouts of time) is required to turn food into a potent medicine. 


Use diet as a prescribed medicine 


When using diet as medicine, in order for it to work, you need to make sure you’re using it similar to a prescribed medicine. So, for example, if part of your prescription includes consuming one tablespoon of soaked chai seeds per day, then it’s paramount that you rigorously stick to that prescription as such. Many patients prescribed a pill or drug ensure they dose it daily without fail, yet there needs to be the same cruciality to do the same when it comes to food. So although I subscribe to both the 80% and 80/20 rules when it comes to specifically treating disease through diet, a rigorous and consistent approach is key.


The need for foundational dietary measures


As like any lifestyle or medical approach to health or disease, creating a foundation is key. Although a pharmaceutical medication may help control or suppress a disease, it does just that, rather than correcting or eliminating the disease altogether. I often prescribe specific foods to treat certain conditions and diseases, however I refrain from doing so if basic dietary foundations have not been met. Depending on each individual case, ensuring wholesome, whole foods (sometimes organic) are being eaten, also in the right amounts and frequency, is a must. If my patient is eating fast food 5 times per week, there will be little to no point in using food to treat health or disease until the foundations of naturopathic healthy eating have been met. Lastly, a medicinal dietary approach to health or disease may sound good, however making sure gut health is optimal enough to properly accept, digest, absorb and utilize foods is one of the most important links to making dietary medicine actually work. 


Using food as medicine is a real and effective approach to remedy a wide range of health or disease conditions. Remember however, that although healthy food is powerful, using the right foods, in proper doses, and in combination with a whole health approach, is a must.


Dr Jeremy Hayman, ND helps patients at Cornerstone Naturopathic Inc. feel better, live better, and achieve optimal wellness and health. Years of patient care coupled with dedication to personal life balance has helped Dr Jeremy employ the adage that “your approach to health should be simple”.