Food or medicine? Ask Hippocrates

Hippocrates on foodHippocrates may have been the first western physician to suggest that sickness came from natural and physical causes, not superstition or superntural curses.  A brilliant third generation phsician pacticing medicine in ancient Greece (400 BC), he learned at the feet of both his father and grandfather.  Most ancient cultures, other than Old Testament Jews, associated illness with superstition and supernatural curses (though Jews as well were impacted by neighbors in other beliefs).  Reading the laws of the early Torah, however, demonstrates ancient Jews understood contagiouis disease could be passed around or controlled with hygiene and rest (1/3 of their over 600 rules were related to this).  But Hippocrates, practicing medicine during the Golden Age of Athens, may have been the first non-Jewish physician to suggest that health could be affected by natural choices.  Many physicians today still ascribe to the oath he penned and consider him the Father of Modern Medicine. 

Coming out of surgery, after a day or two of IV sustenance only, brings back the freedom to taste and begin to enjoy food again.  Another surprise though, when I discovered the hospital diet choices. In 1931 Dr. Otto Warburg received a Nobel Laureate prize for his discovery that malignant tumors show increased glycolysis, using glucose (sugar) as fuel, measurably more than normal cells.  Looking at menu choices on my all liquid diet and knowing I had cancer, I wondered how I could get well on jello, popsicles, boxed apple and cranberry juices (1 gram sugar for every 3–4 calories) and sodium filled bouillion. 

To my delight, I was told there was a refrigerator on the floor not only reserved for patient use but totally empty!  Friends and family brought foods at my request … I couldn’t get too far from sugar content in juce but at least I could make it organic, and real chicken broth could be made sodium free.  When the doctor suggested it was time to start drinking clear protein for wound healing, I was thankful my son Matt had discovered a clear protein drink at a local grocery store that was free of both sugar and aspartame, sweetened only with stevia.  The nurses happily and graciously served me each meal from the local frig.  I experienced gratitude in new ways.  Grateful for loving people to bring me foods of my choice.  Grateful for refrigerators and for nurses to serve from them daily with care and joy.  And grateful to confidently walk a healing path.

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