Sep 10

Food Is Medicine

in Food Is Medicine, Health & Nutrition

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~ Hippocrates

Two years ago I attended the first Dole Blogger Health Summit, where we spent our time discussing the many health issues that face our population today and what we can do to help and make changes in our own lives.  Ironically, I attended that conference with virtually no voice, sounding like someone who needed to be in bed, not hanging out with a bunch of bloggers.  I had undergone a routine tonsillectomy a few months before and had come out of surgery with partially paralyzed vocal chords due to a nicked nerve during intubation in the process of the surgery.  I spent the next 6 months seeing specialists and going through vocal therapy in hopes that my situation was reversible.  Thanks to the attentive care of an incredible otolaryngologist and some new strides in research, I underwent “vocal chord augmentation” and was miraculously speaking a week later.

My voice is now perfectly normal, and I wake up every day filled with gratitude when I open my mouth and am able to speak to Mr. Fuji, laugh with my children, and sing them lullabies at night.  However, sometime during those 6 voiceless months I started to realize that something else was going on with my body.  Since that time two years ago I have undergone countless blood tests, two endoscopies, and one colonoscopy with multiple doctors trying to discover the root of my symptoms.  A month ago we finally got some answers when I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease in which my white blood cells attack my exocrine glands, like my tear ducts and salivary glands.  My first thought was, “Wow, that’s ironic” because I’m an Aquarius (which means the “water bearer”), and yet my body isn’t producing enough things like tears and saliva.  My second thought was to take action and learn everything I could about what I could do to help my body be as healthy as possible.

The New Sjogren’s Syndrome Handbook edited by Daniel J. Wallace, MD, addresses the importance of good nutrition for those living with Sjogren’s:
“Good nutrition can influence mood, energy level, thinking ability, and sleep. It is not simply a matter of eating a certain food or taking a certain vitamin and having the Sjogren’s Syndrome go away . . . It is a matter of eating to increase health and stamina and to improve the chemistry in the body, including the brain.”  That sounds like advice that would be good for all of us to listen to, Sjogren’s Syndrome or not.

Ishoku Dogen” (“ee-show-koo doe-gen”) is an ancient Japanese saying that means “Food is Medicine.”

Food Is Medicine

Although health isn’t just about what we eat, it does play a critical role in our success and overall health, and so I’m starting a new series here on La Fuji Mama that is all about using food to promote health and well-being.  I will be sharing bits of my own journey in the process while bringing you words of wisdom and encouragement from other experts along the way.  Whether it be auto-immune disease, obesity, cancer, or even stress, each of our lives is likely affected by something that would benefit from our taking a more proactive approach to our health.  In the introduction to their book, Japanese Foods That Heal, John and Jan Belleme write, “Ishoku Dogen or ‘Food Is Medicine’ is more than a proverb; it is the key to a healthier, more fulfilling life.”  Won’t you join me as I turn the key in the lock and open the door to discover what is lying in wait for us on the other side?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Geez Louise! September 10, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Oh Rachel, I’m so happy to hear you got some answers, but sad to hear you are sick. I will keep you in my prayers. xoxo Louise


Urban Wife September 10, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I’m so glad you finally know what’s going on and will keep you in my prayers! Healthy food is definitely healing & medicinal.


Fuji Nana September 10, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Great intro to your new series. I’m looking forward to reading future posts. You are right–we all need to be more aware of the effects of our food choices on our health. You go, girl!


Bee September 10, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Rachael, you’re such a trooper for the last two years. I know it hasn’t been easy but I also know that you’re strong (and proactive) enough to make positive changes that I’m sure will benefit your health in the long run. You go girl!!!


Gilbert September 11, 2012 at 3:26 am

Wishing you all the best with your journey. And yes, the right foods can be very healing!


Betzee September 11, 2012 at 6:17 am

Glad you have a diagnosis, which is always a relief, and looking forward to your new food series!


Foodfreak September 11, 2012 at 9:50 am

sounds like a truly interesting series (accidentally, that book just recently made it to my shelves…). I have my own struggle with autoimmune disease, so I feel for you, Good you have a diagnosis, though, and I love your positive attitude!

One thing that comes to mind: what is considered ‘healing’ and works for one person, may be hazardous to another. I am somewhat tired of blog posts touting their ‘healthy’ cuisine, whatever the angle is – maybe because there is way too much nutritional evangelism out there… but I am sure your posts will be as fun and balanced as your cooking :))


Chris September 11, 2012 at 11:53 am

You’ve certainly had more than your share of health issues :(
Take good care of yourself; looking forward your “Food is Medicine” posts!


Mardi ( travel.write) September 12, 2012 at 3:44 am

Aw Rachael, I remember all those health issues all too well. So glad you are on the road to recovery now. I can’t think of a better place to start thinking about better health than looking at the foods we eat. I am looking forward to this series very much, having struggled with a few health issues of my own in the past couple of years. Big hugs xo


Erica September 12, 2012 at 6:44 am

I applaud you for making this journey. I too am embarking on including more vegetarian and raw living foods into my lifestyle. There is a lot of information available on the internet. Look up the benefits of wheatgrass juice as prescribed by Ann Wigmore.


LiztheChef September 12, 2012 at 8:04 am

With you, dear one, as you cook your way back to health – so sorry for all that you have had to suffer.


Mimi Avocado September 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

You are so generous, dear Avocado Sister, to share your journey with all of us. Keep your chin up … if anyone can unravel these mysteries, it’s you!


Eileen September 12, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Hi There! I wasn’t going to take the time to read this right away BUT, I’m so glad I did. What a great, bittersweet, but outstanding post. It’s ironic to me that this topic has taken on this angle because I have appreciated the quality of cooking and recipes that you have continually presented with the underlying factor always being delicious, but nutritious, enjoyment of food. Sometimes I wonder if you ever think to just “go for it” and grab an In ‘n Out cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake! I’m not thinking that you’ve never done that but I feel you have always been an informed, well educated, dedicated, nutritious, fun, talented foodie. You will make lemonade out of this lemon & it will be wonderful! Good luck busy lady.


Eleanor Hoh October 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Rachel, I’m shocked and saddened to hear of your health issues. I’m with Bee that you’re such a strong individual, you’ll be proactive and deal with it head on! I’m so with you that Food is Medicine and look forward to hearing good news and how nutritious foods will hopefully make life more bearable. I admire your strong will power and my thoughts are with you.


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