Food: The Most Powerful Medicine

Food: The Most Powerful Medicine is contributed by Nicole Vander Meulen of Skagit Valley Food Co-op and is published in the Spring, 2024 Edition of Vibrant Senior Options Resource Guide.

Food: bowl of vegetable saladsS, M, T, W, Th, F, Sa. If you’re like many others, those are familiar letters marking the days of our lives atop a plastic container on your countertop, full of your daily dose of XYZ – a very necessary reminder of what day it actually is, and to take your vitamins, supplements, and other medicines accordingly.
On S and W, I take my vitamin D. I appreciate the reminder, and the support those little capsules give me, especially during the winter months. There is, no doubt, health and healing in these medicines, but let’s not forget the most powerful medicine of all: Food.

Our Source of Life

Food is our source of life, and there’s certainly truth to the saying “you are what you eat:” an unhealthy diet can lead to health issues, and a healthy one can help prevent issues and maintain a good balance of one’s health. Of course, there are outliers, exceptions, and genetic predispositions, and the definition of “healthy” varies from one person to another, but, generally speaking, eating a healthy diet can have numerous health benefits.

Food for Health Benefits

This idea is simple. However, there are thousands of people who have found themselves reliant on prescriptions and other medicines, who haven’t taken a closer look at what else they’re consuming. And sometimes, a change of diet is just what the doctor (should have) ordered.
There are vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and other surprising health benefits in some of the foods you already know and love!

  • The mighty mushroom is one of few natural sources of vitamin D, so while I still supplement, I also add mushrooms to many of my dishes. Mushrooms have also been gaining popularity in recent times for their immune-boosting, mind-clearing, gut-soothing adaptogens. Mushroom coffee may sound weird, but it’s a delicious way to take advantage of these functional ingredients, especially if caffeine isn’t on the menu.
    The appeal of the bright banana? It’s potassium-packed and great for an instant energy boost to start the day or before a neighborhood stroll.
  • A shot of apple cider vinegar before or after consuming sugar can help maintain glucose levels.
  • Yogurt, kefir, and sour cream offer your gut thousands of live active cultures called probiotics, which can help with digestion and other gastro issues.
  • Bone broths, which can be bought or made on your own stove with leftover chicken and beef bones, are a natural source of collagen, and make for a great alternative to water when cooking things like rice, and even pancakes!
  • Celery and cucumber are watery veggies that can help increase your body’s hydration. You don’t want to drink those 8 glasses a day for nothin’!
  • I think my favorite food superpower starts with our fuzzy friendly pollinator, the honey bee. Not only is local wildflower honey delicious, a drizzle here and there can alleviate allergies when the pollen count gets high. Who knew?

Friend or Foe

Food can be many things: friend or foe, healthy or harmful, delicious or disgusting, but what we do know, is that it can also be medicine, and high-quality nourishment is essential for well-being.

Nicole Vander Meulen
Skagit Valley Food Co-op


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