Culinary medicine: Experts explain how food can transform your life
Healthy food
Culinary medicine: Experts explain how food can transform your life
Ratziel San Juan ( - August 13, 2020 - 4:33pm

MANILA, Philippines — Medical experts say that taking the right food — as meals or medicine — can significantly impact both our physical and mental health.

During the Wednesday “Sekaya Prescribing Nature Series: Transforming your Life with Food” webinar, Dr. Oyie Balburias and Dr. John La Puma attested to the power of food in changing the course of our personal wellbeing.

Balburias, an Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM)-certified practitioner and pioneer of functional medicine in the Philippines, explained that our body works as a system and responds to what we intake.

“Being healthy means putting the right fuel in your body. Whole foods act as medicine that protect and heal, and give your immune system a break from toxins and additives found in processed food. Every meal you eat influences the way you feel, in one way or another, so the more nutritious food you choose, the closer you are to getting to optimum health,” he said.

Balburias said that the modern diet is nutrition-starved, long exposing us to illnesses apart from the ongoing novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The problem is the way we live right now is not aligned with how our body was designed. That’s why we’re getting sicker and sicker, mentally, emotionally and definitely physically... we've been having an epidemic of chronic diseases, of chronic lifestyle-related diseases, because everyone is nutrient deficient.”

The proper diet, he said, must consist of unprocessed food rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients

“Most of the substrates, like micronutrients, macronutrients, we get that from food. So of course we’re talking here about whole real and unprocessed foods.”

On the other hand, La Puma, an internationally renowned specialist in internal medicine, professionally-trained chef, and co-founder of ChefMD, introduced the concept of culinary medicine in preventing and treating diseases.

He explained how culinary medicine "blends the art of cooking with the science of medicine to create retro quality meals."

“It also embraces all styles of cooking, and all traditions of cooking, because each tradition of cooking has a wisdom in it that often has been buried... So our task in culinary medicine is to help people rediscover the way to cook as a way to change their health,” La Puma said.

For him, incorporating outside fields such as culinary arts and agriculture into medicine contribute to how people get well and feel better, "as these have all something to say in medicine." 

“I’ve always been fascinated with things that are outside the science and challenge of trying to bring them in... Just like the ‘food-as-medicine’ movement decades ago, nature-based medicine is beginning to emerge as a scientifically-proven school of thought and a critical medical intervention that has both immediate and long-term health benefits.”

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