“Let thy food be thy medicine”


By Vanessa Edwards, BScPA Certified Physician Assistant

As a Physician Assistant working in primary care, I often see patients who have developed or are at risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, cancer, and others.

Following the current medical guidelines, many would benefit from starting on medication to manage these conditions. But what good is medication alone if the person continues to have the same unhealthy lifestyle?

Hippocrates once said, “Let thy food be thy medicine”.

We must look beyond the easy solution and educate ourselves on the importance of a healthy, active life.


Many people simply hope that they won’t develop a chronic medical condition in their lifetime; but the statistics show heart disease as the number one cause of death around the world, and 8% of the world will have Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by 2030 – That’s pretty scary.

Keep in mind, all chronic illnesses are preventable. Your food choices make a difference when it comes to these deadly diseases. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can be one of the most powerful and easy ways to protect your body from disease. You can make simple, daily nutritional changes to help prevent illnesses and/or reduce the symptoms of the ones you have already developed.

Naturally, after discussing this with my patients, they often wonder: “What does eating healthy actually mean?” and “Which specific foods will help prevent disease?”

It’s actually simpler than you might think. Here are a few tips:

  1. Think about it as adopting a healthy lifestyle, rather than “dieting”
  2. It’s about quality of nutrients, not quantity
  3. Eat a healthy amount of calories for your gender, size, and activity level
  4. Learn to read nutritional labels and compare products. (Remember to check how many portions per container)
  5. Eat frequent, smaller meals
  6. Your plate should be 50% veggies/fruit, 25% grains, 25% protein
  7. Increase your fruit and veggie intake to 7-8 portions a day
  8. Consume a high-fiber diet with items such as beans, seeds, whole grains and veggies
  9. Stay away from processed, pre-made, fast food.
  10. Remember to drink lots of water! (8 cups a day).

These are just a few tips to get started, and I encourage you all to consider adopting a nutritious diet in order to prevent disease and live a happy, healthy life…remember it’s about enhancing your quality of life.

I’d like to end this buy urging anyone who is concerned about any of these conditions, to go to your regular health care provider and discuss your options for screening, prevention and management of chronic diseases. Don’t forget to ask about nutritional support options as there are many resources available to help you on your journey to heath.