Sage advice from Hippocrates, the father of medicine who said “Let food be thy medicine”
This is not giving us a license to live to eat whatever we want, but rather the way I interpret the quote is about understanding how food is the frontline and the continuing anecdote to the health problems the human body is challenged with over time.
My journey has been an interesting one. I started as an advocate for American Muslim civil rights, and I worked for CAIR, an organization described as the “bull dog” on these issues. We fought back, we fought hard and we didn’t care if it meant being excluded form the table when we knew that the issues that affected the community was not even being discussed in an honest and sincere way by Federal, state or local agencies.
Somewhere during my six years of doing this fighting my body began to give out. My body stopped while I tried to fight on. The consequences of which were evident in that I suffered from severe insomnia, severe back pain, anxiety attacks, headaches and the simplest task of walking a block from one meeting to another resulted in loss of breath and complete sweat storm. I had gained weight because my daily routine involved me sitting at my desk at work, to sitting in my car commuting, to sitting on my coach, to sitting and eating and then sleeping. This was on repeat for six years, intermittently I would try to get out and do the activities I once loved but with greater and greater failure.
I got my act together because at the end of the day I believed that my health was my personal responsibility and Islamically its an amana, a trust between an individual and God that the individual is held responsible for. But each time I got to working out I failed. Sometimes the worst was me working out and rather then losing weight, gaining weight.
The realization I had, after a lot of lecturing from my mom and health conscience friends, boiled down to food consumption.
The bottom line was that the more conscience I became of what I put into my body, the more weight I loss, the less I felt fatigued and all the other things. That realization over time was revolutionary for me because I now understood something that I couldn’t quite comprehend before this, there was something fundamentally wrong with the foods in restaurants, on the shelves of grocery stores especially those being advertised and promoted as “healthy” alternatives. This food was not nutritious, it was not filling me up , I ate it and was hungry to eat more of it or stuff similar to it. But why isn’t our food nutritious? How am a an informed consumer when everything I eat is hurting me?
Here I am standing at the doorstep of another David-and-Golith advocacy struggle: our current policy on health, food and agriculture is not designed to benefit the citizens of America.
Which is an utterly sad trend across the board, whether its civil rights or on education or employee rights, it is easier in the United States to be a consumer rather then to be a citizen.
Today consumption of food is probably just as dangerous to your health as is joining the Army and going off to fight in Afghanistan. While in the army one would be in the direct line of enemy fire, Americans at home have no idea that we are eating ourselves to a shorter life span. What good was all the scientific and technological developments since WWII of decreasing child mortality, increasing life expectancy, lowering cost of living, when the foods we eat push us further and further along the path of medicated life and eventually death? Death that could have been avoided altogether.
What stands in the way is our Government, Corporate interests and foolish people who believe in true American values and principles but only as much as it benefits them directly.
So Hippocrates was right and at the same time wrong in modern standards when he said “Let food be thy medicine.” Today not all foods are equal, not all choice is free and none of this wrapped up in personal responsibility. However, food can be our lifeline out of this when it isn’t packaged in plastic with a long list of ingredients the majority of which we can’t pronounce let alone clearly know where in nature it comes from.