#DolphinsLiveWell: Food is Medicine!

Maria Randazzo , Director, Heath and Wellness Center

The focus of our column this week is on making healthy food choices and promoting food as medicine!  Last Wednesday, the Nursing learning community with Dean of Students, Anne Kearney, and Sodexo sponsored an event educating students to the role of food as medicine.  Simply put, this is the practice of consuming certain foods that help your body function more efficiently, and experimenting with diets that eliminate sugar, gluten, dairy, food additives, red meat, and caffeine. You head off to college expecting the challenge of tough coursework. You should also be aware of the challenges college presents to healthy eating habits. The student lifestyle—complete with stress, eating on the run, studying late, and the freedom to eat whatever you want—makes it tempting to overeat or choose junk foods. Prepare for this challenge with strategies that will enable you to achieve good nutrition and a healthy weight along, with your diploma!

According to father and son team, T. Colin Campbell Ph.D. and Thomas Campbell MD, who have lectured here at Le Moyne in the past!), there is a connection between our physical and mental health and what we eat. Their book, The China Study, focuses on the knowledge gained from the 20-year partnership of Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine that showed high consumption of animal-based foods is associated with more chronic disease, while those who ate primarily a plant-based diet were the healthiest.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat non-plant based foods, just pick healthy ones and eat in moderation! Choose your foods wisely to get the nutrients you need for energy and brainpower. Follow a diet based on food from plants, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, such as olive and canola oil. Get protein from nuts, seeds, beans, fish, eggs and lean poultry. Have one or two servings of low-fat dairy each day or take vitamin D and calcium supplements.

Limiting red meat, processed meat, sugary soft drinks, salt and foods made from refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, potatoes, and sweets can result in feeling less anxious and depressed.  We know that serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, sleep, learning, and memory is produced through the synthesizing of tryptophan, an amino acid. Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein, it makes sense to eat lots of healthy sugary carbohydrates!  Eating in this manner can help you feel more energetic, allows you to sleep and study better, and learning more easily. As we head towards the crunch of the end of the semester, stock your dorm room with healthy snacks so late-night study sessions won’t send you running for fast food or vending machine junk. Choose snacks that contain protein and whole grains for fuel, such as peanut butter and whole-grain crackers, hummus and carrots, fruit and hard-boiled eggs, low-sugar yogurt and whole-grain cereal with skim milk. If you follow these dietary suggestions, your body will thank you. Eat healthy to stay healthy!