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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

The Holistic Perspective on Food and Health

By Dr. Fred Harvey, Functional Medicine Doctor 

The word "diet" is derived from the Greek term "diata," which has a much broader meaning encompassing the entirety of one's lifestyle. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates used this term to guide his philosophy of medicine. Although often misattributed to him, the well-known saying "Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food" is a modern interpretation of Hippocrates' teachings. Research by Diana Cardenas, as reported on, suggests that this interpretation emerged in the early 20th century. The original Greek oath, when literally translated, emphasizes the application of dietetic and lifestyle measures to help the sick to the best of one's ability and judgment, with a commitment to protect them from harm and injustice. 

Considering these historical insights, it's clear that food isn't a direct treatment for illness in itself. Rather, it serves as the foundation of health or illness, contingent upon our relationship with it. If one maintains an imbalanced or obsessive relationship with unhealthy foods, the likelihood of developing diseases increases. However, a balanced relationship with food is more likely to sustain good health. An emphasis on fostering healthy food relationships forms the basis of an economically and ecologically friendly approach to well-being. 

While large-scale harvesting and extraction of specific compounds like curcumin from turmeric root can be expensive and less ecologically friendly, these concentrated extracts are sometimes necessary. This need arises when an individual has developed an imbalanced relationship with their diata, marked by deficiencies or excesses in various areas of life, such as diet, hydration, sleep, work-related stress, exercise, home stress, exposure to toxins, medications or infections. In such cases, high dose, extracted nutritional pharmaceutical agents like curcuminoids from turmeric may be required to address the underlying processes contributing to illness and its symptoms. Always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider first before starting any treatment, whether it is a prescription medication, over-the-counter drug, vitamin, supplement, or herbal alternative.  

However, it's essential to understand that the effectiveness of these natural medications is closely tied to whether the individual continues to perpetuate the imbalance and illness. If one maintains habits like excessive consumption of inflammatory foods and a sedentary lifestyle, the impact of high dose curcuminoids will likely be limited. Therefore, breaking free from toxic influences becomes paramount to allow the body to heal. This ecologically and economically sound approach represents the most effective and efficient path to promoting holistic health. 

In conclusion, Hippocrates' wisdom reminds us that food is not a mere medicine but the cornerstone of our well-being. By nurturing a balanced and healthy relationship with what we eat, we can make significant strides toward a happier and healthier life. 

Dr. Fred Harvey is the Medical Director of Functional Medicine Florida. He is quadruple board-certified in Internal Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Holistic-Integrative Medicine, specializing in chronic illness recovery & prevention and defiant aging.  

Experience the life-changing difference that functional medicine can make for your life by discovering the root cause of your health issues by calling Dr. Harvey’s office, Functional Medicine Florida, at 941-929-9355 or visit 


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