Take a Chill Pill

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What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word “medicine?”

Maybe you get a vision of a back-of-CVS-store pharmacy doling out pills, or maybe you think about the bottles of aspirin and Ibuprofen stocked up in your medicine cabinet, or maybe you think about hospitals.

Or maybe (hopefully) you think about food.

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 I spent last night listening to Andrew Weil’s talk on medicine for about the tenth time. I love this part in particular:

 “The word medicine comes to us from an ancient Indo-Iranian root that also gives us the words ‘meditate’ and ‘measure.’ That root has the original meaning of something like ‘thoughtful action to establish order.’ How did that definition come to equate the giving of substances?”

It’s a really good question. How did modern American medicine practice equate to taking care of people only after they’re already sick? Where are the preventative health measures? Where’s the health education in our school systems? In our grocery stores?

Food is one of the, if not the, surest ways to determine your health. Each bite of food you take is sending bits of important information over your genes, literally telling your cells, your bloodstream, your hair particles, your body how it should create and recreate itself. Contrary to popular belief, all of our genes are not predetermined. Yes, if your parents are both extremely tall, there is a very good chance you will be tall too, and no amount of carrots or brussels sprouts will be able to make you shorter throughout life. But if obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure run in your family, you are not sentenced to the same fate. Your risk might be higher, but you have the power to change that risk throughout the course of your life. That power largely lies in food and lifestyle.

Let’s collectively take a chill pill on reaching for the meds*, and think about how we can proactively heal our bodies. A great start is taking a close look at your grocery cart and making sure roughly half of it filled with fruits, vegetables, and whole foods. Then, try the circle of life test and see if your primary foods are balanced. Let’s measure and meditate on our choices, let’s make thoughtful actions to establish order in our bodies.

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*Modern medicine is, in thousands of ways, amazing and totally necessary. Get a big gash in your knee? Go to the ER and get stitches. But for minor illnesses, or the first signs of serious health concerns (higher cholesterol, weight gain, shortness of breath, etc.) there are many healthier options than just a prescription.

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