Let your food be your medicine

Let your food be your medicine was the sage advice of the great healer Hippocrates; he's the father of chiropractic too, avidly recommending and using manipulation.

His other famous dictum, required by all young doctors taking the Hippocratic oath, was 'first, do no harm.'

Pill box dispenser

Sadly it's ignored by many with iatrogenic, or doctor caused disease, being today the third most common reason to bring on death after cardiovascular illness and cancer. Most of it is related to medication, and even supplements.

Recently, on a soaring vacation with 15 friends, I was astonished how many pill boxes were displayed at meal times; only one pilot was older than me.

I'm not the gloating sort, so I never said a word, but how glad I was that I had discovered many years ago at chiropractic college to let food be my medicine.

In fact it was my wife who first introduced me to the concept; at a wives' auxiliary meeting she began to learn about the importance of healthy food.

Since a child I had suffered from a serious constipation problem; memories of the enema still haunt me. Imagine my astonishment that the addition of a daily prunes for breakfast, a green salad for lunch, and beets on a regular basis for dinner totally cured me of the ailment.

This page was last updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 1st May, 2023.

Let your food be your medicine

So, in my determination never to need a 7 day pill box dispenser, I decided to outline a simple breakfast menu so that you too could let your food be your medicine.

It is at breakfast, research shows, that we get many of the important nutrients that prevent heart ailments, malignancies and Alzheimer's disease. You are less likely to be overweight, will suffer from fewer anxieties and children in particular perform better at school.

There are two provisos; one is how it's grown and the other what the food manufacturers have done to ruin it; a loaf of bread baked in your own kitchen using 100 percent wholemeal is a quite different kettle of fish from that purchased from the supermarket.

Obviously there is huge room for variation, but there are some basic principles that should be inviolate. Note also that by following breakfasts like these, you can totally dispense with the word diet from your vocabulary; enjoy them and you will never have a weight problem, no matter the state of your thyroid or any other organ for that matter.

Diets don't work anyway; forget the term. Research shows that a shocking 95 percent of folk have put it all back on within a year, and many are heavier than ever.

Go on a diet and you'll just get depressed. Let your food be your medicine and you will be free from them for ever; dinkum.

So, what are these principles?

  1. Your breakfast should be high in fibre; and low in carbs, even the good ones if you are insulin resistant.
  2. It must contain as many colours as possible; I shoot for a minimum of three and often enjoy five or even more at breakfast.
  3. It should be high in complex carbohydrates; they may seem like a contradiction. Wholegrain grits are wonderful unless you are obese.
  4. It should contain some protein and the healthy fats.

High in fibre means that there should be fruit, perhaps some greens and steel-cut oats; and maybe some nuts and seeds.

Many colours are most easily obtained from several different fruits at breakfast.

Wholegrain grits with fresh berriesWholegrain grits with fresh berries

Complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index would suggest a whole grain, unsweetened muesli or unprocessed porridge; stone ground grits, for example.

Healthy fat is one of the controversial areas; margarines containing trans isomers are definitely taboo, so I shoot for a small amount of butter.

Butter is back after all; so are eggs. Neither should ever have been banned.

Protein is most easily obtained from eggs and unsweetened yoghurts high in probiotics; but alas all preserved red meat and especially bacon are reserved for high and holy days. Hams for example are proven beyond doubt to cause malignancies. Breast cancer and prevention is for every woman.

So if you are going to let your food be your medicine, what might your breakfasts look like, if you're to avoid the 7-day pill box dispenser? There's plenty of room for variation.

For liquid I recommend freshly-squeezed orange juice, absolutely no OJ and unsweetened green tea or filter coffee; at the beginning of the meal, and not too hot. A hiatus hernia is not uncommon; fluids after the meal will cause heartburn; Beverages close to boiling cause throat cancer.

Researchers following a large group of people over 20 years found that those eating 7 to 8 coloured foods most days had a 35 percent lower all-cause of death; that's massive; aim for three or four at breakfast every morning.


A smoothie, fruit and nut breakfast.

Your Monday breakfast might look like this if you are to let your food be your medicine.

  • Cup of tea.
  • Smoothie with as many fruits as possible; include some unsweetened yoghurt and freshly ground seeds.
  • Wholegrain unsweetened muesli with nuts and raisins.
  • 100% whole grain toast, smidgen of  butter and marmalade.


Convincing research that prunes are more effective for constipation than best medicine.

Whilst you could repeat Monday's breakfast every day, I recommend as varied a diet as possible; that is the only way to get many of the phytonutrients that our bodies need.

  • Cup of filtered coffee, not overly hot; no sugar or artificial sweetener.
  • A few prunes soaked in boiling water, with a couple tablespoons of unsweetened yoghurt.
  • 3 to 4 TBSP of rolled oats cooked porridge with a little butter and raw honey; milk and yoghurt are options.
  • A couple slices of cheese on toasted low GI bread; a little butter.

Research shows by the way that you can get quick constipation relief much faster and cheaper from stewed prunes than the standard medical treatment.


Neat orange juice for vitamin C.

On Wednesday we will have an egg; it's now allowed, actually encouraged by the heart foundation because of the choline. That is a very important nutrient in the demethylation of highly inflammatory homocysteine; it is also the best source of vitamin B12.

Are you up on choline food sources?

  • Glass of freshly squeezed orange juice; mixed citrus would be better still. Make sure you include all the pulp.
  • Eggs Florentine on our toasted Panera bread menu recipe; I always toss in some onion, garlic and tomato for the prostate gland.
  • Apple on the way to work? There is plenty of research proving it is no old wives' tale.


Fried mushrooms have huge nutritional value.

On Thursday we'll have fried mushrooms; they are an exceptional source of selenium, a very important antioxidant in the prevention of the highly malignant tumours. Prostate gland health should be in the mind of every cook; it is so simple.

  • Cup of unsweetened tea; preferably the green kind, though I confess I drink it only under duress; it's good for us.
  • Your favourite fruit and yoghurt. Perhaps blueberries; no sugar, of course.
  • Fried mushrooms, perhaps on toasted wholewheat sourdough bread; that's my favourite.

You'll notice that none of this takes long to prepare; slow food, made fast is our philosophy. But even if it does mean an extra ten minutes, spend the time if you want to embrace the let your food be your medicine philosophy.

You'll be spending ten times a much consulting doctors and buying medicines in any case. Can you imagine the joy of taking virtually no drugs at all?


Eggs Florentine being cooked; oops, called it Valentine.

On Friday we'll revert to cereals; whole grain and unsweetened, of course. It could be muesli or porridge, take your pick.

Sorghum incidentally is one of my favourites if you can find the unrefined grain with all the fibre, vitamins and minerals; if your bring these whole grains to the boil the night before and simmer for half an hour, perhaps putting in a "hot box," then they do not take long to warm up in the morning. The starch will have retrograded lowering the GI.

The spinach in eggs Florentine is rich in lutein, the phytochemical that prevents age-onset macular degeration, the primary cause of blindness in the elderly; it's all so preventable. Kale is even better. Let your food be your medicine; got the message?

The zeaxanthin and lutein macular degeneration link is a subject every one of us should know about. Ten million Americans are needlessly blind, and many more partially sighted; just because they refused to eat their greens.

  • Cup of filter coffee with no sugar or "Sweet 'N Low;" Retrain your tongue; it takes only a few days. I know because I've been down that road. The artificial sweetener side effects are even worse than those of sugar; chemicals in food are positively dangerous.
  • Wholegrain, unrefined sorghum or grits. With all that fibre you can add a little butter and raw honey utterly without guilt; even a tablespoon of cream.
  • Eggs Florentine with spinach. Perhaps consider these kale benefits from your own garden; it's so easy.
  • Throw in a tomato to the eight colors eggs Florentine, or have a bunch of grapes on the way to work; there are your colours. Remember, there is a massive 35% lower all-cause of death. Let your food be your medicine; boringly repetitive, but the penny will eventually drop.


Scrambled eggs sprinkled with parsley.

On Saturday you've got a little extra time to commit to your newfound goal in life. "Let your food be your medicine," said Hippocrates.

Perhaps a big fruit salad with all your favourites would make a great start; I am a fan of enjoying what's in season, rather than what has been imported from distant lands.

And you've definitely got time to make that easy sourdough bread recipe; it takes only five minutes after all. Remember the buzzword? Slow food, made fast is our slogan.

  • Cup of filter coffee; perhaps a slow second. Always before the meal if you have any problems with heartburn.
  • A large bowl of fruit salad and cream.
  • Scrambled eggs sprinkled with parsley benefits. On low GI toast you need have no anxiety about carbs; butter not margarine of course.
  • An extra slice of toast and marmalade? You've earned it.


If you have followed a routine like I have recommended in your newfound zest for letting your food be your medicine, then you can have the day off and enjoy your favourites. Just not bagels, please, they are a nutritional disaster that could undo a whole week's endeavours.


Sweetening our food with simple carbohydrates like sugar, or worse saccharine will undermine your determination to let your food be your medicine. They raise your blood glucose rapidly causing an insulin surge, and the chemicals are even worse contributing to metabolic syndrome.

Your tongue will have to be retrained, and it certainly can be done; it may mean getting away from tea bags and instant coffee; they taste awful without sugar. You will have to ring in some changes if you want to avoid the pill-box dispenser; dealing with that sweet tooth may be the most difficult.

Raw honey, if you can find it, in moderation is the best alternative; surprisingly it has a low GI[4]. You are unlikely to locate it at the supermarket.


Man on loo suffering from constipation.

I alluded above that my first encounter with let your food be your medicine was the total cure of you know what. This beetroot constipation page makes a great start. If you are going to enjoy them regularly then I strongly endorse the modern pressure cooker; solar power means you can use them for free. They reduce the cooking time by two-thirds.

Constipation is the cause of many serious bowel diseases. A soft, easy to pass stool is the blessing enjoyed by those who let their food be the medicine; thank you Hippocrates. You were a star who left an indelible mark on this world.

Over the counter treatments for chronic idiopathic constipation begins at the greengrocer's door.


Home bake in a bread machine.

Does this let your food be your medicine page make you feel intimidated? You could not possibly do all this! Don't feel alone; I felt that way in the beginning of my own journey of the synergy of green living.

It's a step at a time process. First perhaps you might start by making a smoothie from fresh fruit several times a week for the whole family. Once you have got that down, you might start hunting for a source of genuine raw honey; then whole rolled or steel-cut oats, not the refined stuff.

Can you believe it that making our own low GI bread using unrefined 100% wholemeal takes me only five minutes every morning? Then you do not need to buy vitamin E tablets and bran any longer; because of the lignans the good wife has 50% protection against breast cancer. It requires just three minutes to cut and squeeze the fruit for your own fresh orange juice; it's to die for.

What's more, using a sourdough starter, research shows that even those suffering from a serious wheat intolerance causing abdominal pain, bloating and bloody stools can enjoy bread every day; when they understand the meaning of gluten.

This orange juice facts page outlines the simply vast difference between OJ and the freshly-squeezed stuff.

Once you are in a routine, these things don't take long; slow food made fast. Give one child the responsibility to make the smoothies, another to slice the mushrooms; teaching them to get back to the foods that granny prepared is probably one of the most important things you can do for them. Of course, there'll be some whingeing when crappy cornflakes are no longer on the table. Let them complain.

Did you know that white mice fed the box they came in lived longer than those that ate only the cornflakes?

Good luck!

> Let your food be medicine LUNCHES

Perhaps we'll get onto dinners another day.

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