Better Health

“Food is Medicine. Choose Yours with Care,” Dr. Bernicky

by Dr. Natalie Bernicky, Health Columnist, thewedge.LIVE

Food is something we can all relate to. It is necessary for life and can be as indulgent or simple as you choose to make it. With our relatively short gardening season upon us, and the opportunity to eat local produce and support local producers it seems a natural time to discuss how we choose the food we eat, where it comes from, and how it is treated affects our overall health and wellness.

Spring in the country is always a beautiful, colorful, and aromatic time of year. The sweet smells of winter wheat maturing, manure and rain greet your nose as the farmers prepare their fields for sowing. Now in my profession we talk about balance, and it’s overall effects on the body. A key component of balanced health is nutrition. The food we choose to eat today plays an important role in determining how we feel tomorrow, as well as having a larger environmental impact. Let’s first look at how our food can affect our good health.

Food is medicine, or at least it can be depending on what you choose. Our bodies like a more alkaline pH, and work tirelessly to maintain this balance. pH (potential of hydrogen) is a scale used to measure how acidic or basic (alkaline) a substance is, and ranges from 0-14. A healthy, well functioning human body has a pH range between 7.3-7.45, or slightly more alkaline. When we stray too far from this healthy range, to a lower, acidic pH a general feeling of ill health will result. If we chronically stay in this unhealthy pH range disease will result. Chronic inflammation is the root cause of disease. It is an example of your environment (body) trying to make an adaptive change, and it makes you progressively weaker.

The opposite of this is acute inflammation: injury repair, infection control and injury recovery. Acute inflammation saves lives, and always makes you stronger, not weaker. It’s the body communicating that there is danger, and it releases substances to help control the danger. Chronic inflammation is the loss of both regulation & communication within your body, and for this reason alone it is important to learn how to properly nourish the body you have.

We want to choose and combine foods in a way that decreases inflammation by keeping our body pH balanced, and free from synthetic chemicals that promote chronic inflammation. This means not eating processed foods, or artificial, flavor-filled sugary foods, and keeping to the periphery of the grocery store where whole foods live. To list a few, the more acidic foods are grains and proteins; More basic foods are, fresh fruits and vegetables and soy products. Choosing whole, healthy foods with little to no processing is a step in the right direction for balanced nutrition. Now let’s take a look at how our food choices impact our environment.

When you go to the grocery store to pick up food, it may have traveled quite a distance in order to arrive on the shelves. Our short growing season, the move away from eating seasonally available food and the ease of having said foods available for purchase out of season has led us to outsource our food, where largely the result is chemical farming. How our food is treated, and the distance it travels to get from a farm to your table matters. The environmental impact isn’t limited to fuel usage to transport our food, but expands when you consider what conditions, herbicides and pesticides are used to grow the food we eat. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in many commonly used herbicides, is water soluble.

If a chemical is water soluble this means it can travel everywhere water can travel within the body, and the ecosystem. It cannot be contained, and it changes whatever it comes into contact with. As a direct result of chemical farming, some of our food is now lacking the nutritional properties we need to sustain life. According to Louise Hénault-Éthier, science projects manager at the David Suzuki Foundation “…nearly 1/3 of our food contains glyphosate according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.” We have outsourced our food, and the result is chemical farming. For our own good health, we need to take it back.

How do we go about doing this? We can choose to participate in and support local farms by shopping at road markets, farmers’ markets, and supporting local food initiatives, such as: The Two Rivers Food Hub, Bluegrass Farm, Aubin Farm, Pachamama Organics, Highland Gem Farm, Earth’s Harvest Farm, Sleepy Sheppard Farm and Millers Bay Farm, and the organic sections of the local grocery stores.

We can get involved in community gardening, and produce our own medicine in the food we consume. When possible, choosing organic produce for certain foods termed “the dirty dozen” which have the highest pesticide residues: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes [imported], spinach, lettuce and potatoes. Likewise, finding balance where produce is less contaminated: onions, avocado, sweet corn (frozen), pineapples, mangoes, asparagus, sweet peas (frozen), kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, and papaya.

The benefits of a simple backyard garden extend far beyond the earth you cultivate. Relaxation, exercise, family fun, healthy, delicious food and the opportunity to reconnect with nature (while getting some vitamin D) are yours to indulge in if you choose to support your good health, and a healthy environment. As always, it’s your call.

For more information, please visit: The “Dirty Dozen.”

This was Dr. Natalie Bernicky’s first, exclusive story as Health Columnist for thewedge.LIVE . Stay-Tuned for more.

Dr. Natalie Bernicky, Chiropractor, Smiths Falls Family Chiropractic, Smiths Falls

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