A Woman's Wellspring logo

Food As Medicine-Mini-Med #4 2017

Food As Medicine-Mini-Med #4 2017

Mini-Medical School #4

Food as Medicine

August 12, 2017

Stephanie Taylor MD PhD

The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his (her) patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Thomas Edison

What is Food?

Protein, fats and carbohydrates=calories. Add a vitamin pill and you are all set, right? Not quite. Here is a list of the high nutrient value plants and their participating phytochemicals, which are not included in that simple formula.

PhytochemicalFood SourceHealth Benefits

Carotenoids Red, green, yellow fruits and vegetables Antioxidants1, decreased cancer risk
Flavonoids Most fruits and vegetables, tea Antioxidants, antiinflammatory2
Ellagic acid Strawberries, grapes, raspberries, apples Inactivates cancer causing chemicals3
Phenolic acids Citrus, whole grains, berries, tomatoes, most vegetables Inhibits cell proliferation induced by carcinogens4, 1,2
Indoles Cruciferous vegetables 3
Isothiocyanates Cruciferous vegetables 4
Lignans Flax seeds, berries, whole grains


Diallyl disulfide Garlic, onions, leeks, chives, shallots, scallions 3
Saponins All plants 2,4
Terpenes Oranges, lemons, grapefruit 3, anti-ulcer
Capsaicin Hot peppers 2,3, pain reduction
Coumarins Soybeans, Whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, cucumbers, squash, melons, flax seeds, green tea 4
Isoflavones Soy


Organosulfurs Garlic, onions, leek…. 3, inhibit cholesterols synthesis
Phytosterols Whole grains, legumes 3, primarily steroid induced
Protease inhibitors All plants 2,4, antiviral and antibacterial

Reference: Power Foods by Stephanie Beling, MD, HarperCollins, 1997.

Eat five different kinds of fruits and vegetables every day to recapture the disease preventing phytochemicals missing in the American diet. Taking vitamin and mineral pills will not prevent the diseases associated with a processed-food diet. Scientists cannot formulate into pills nutrients they haven’t yet discovered”. –Dr. James Duke, US Dept. of Agriculture

Step One: Start with Good ingredients:

Water: The Environmental Working Group just released its tap water analysis. Cal Am is in legal compliance, but has levels of arsenic, bromodichloromethane, chloroform, hexavalent chromium, dibromochloromethane, dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, total trihalomethanes and above optimum health levels. Optimum health levels are not the same as legal limits. These chemicals are all carcinogens. https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/#.WY3VUVWGPIU

The fundamental error in safety testing is made by testing isolated chemicals for toxicity. The synergistic toxicity of simultaneous low doses of hundreds chemicals over a life-time is not evaluated.

Plants: Local, organic and fresh. Animal protein: Organic/grass fed and humanely raised.


Caution: Do not stop any medication without physician supervision!

The DASH Diet is endorsed by the National Institute of Health and research reports a BP reduction of 10.7/5.2 mm Hg, which is comparable or exceeds medication results. More information is at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/dash_brief.pdf

This table of the pharmacological actions of foods was prepared by a leading cardiologist:

BP MedicationAntihypertensive Food with similar mechanism

ACE inhibitors Egg yolk, Fish, Garlic, Gelatin, Hawthorne berry, Milk casein, whey and sour milk, Sake, Kelp, Wakame, corn protein
ARB Celery, Fiber, Garlic, Olive Oil, Nuts, Avocados, Olives
Beta-blockers Hawthorne berry
Calcium blockers Hawthorne berry, Celery, Garlic, Olive Oil
Alpha-agonists Celery, Fiber, Garlic, Protein
Diuretics Hawthorne berry, Celery, Protein

From: Houston, MD, M. Nutrition and Nutraceutical Supplement for the Treatment of Hypertension, 2013, J. of Clinical Hypertension.

EXAMPLE 2-APPLYING WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT HEART DISEASE: Mediterranean Diet, including the right olive oil. It is the one that tastes peppery. Learn more at the Quail and Olive, Carmel Valley Village. Exercise and social support are essential.

EXAMPLE 3-APPLYING WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT DIABETES: Refined Sugar is actually a drug and is part of the triad of compounds (salt, sugar, fat) that the processed food industry uses to assure a return customer. Check out: Salt Sugar Fat: how the food giants hooked us by Michael Moss

Lifestyle management is a more complex undertaking than just taking a daily pill. Change in diet, exercise, weight reduction, stress management, supplements are all part of this integrated treatment system.

August is National Coffee Month! Research supports many benefits of coffee and tea drinking, just hold the sugar! Research at the Coffee Institute: http://vanderbilt.edu/ics/coffee-news/ shows a reduction in Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, liver cancer and Type II Diabetes.

Additional References:

Shanahan MD, Catherine. Deep Nutrition: Why your genes need traditional food. Flatiron Books, 2016.

Houston MD, M. What your doctor may not tell you about hypertension. Warner, 2003.

De La Fort, Rosalee. Alchemy of Herbs. Hay House, 2017.

Chinese Medicine has a rich and complex system of Food Cures. Here are some books from that tradition:

Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Asian traditions and modern nutrition. Encyclopedic book requiring a basic understanding for five element theory.

Thunderhawk, Denise L. Ac. The 5 Element Guide to Healing with Whole Foods. LuLu Press, 2016. This is a basic and quite good introduction to five element nutrition.