Harnessing the Power of Food as Medicine

The correlation between what we eat and the profound impact on our health is not a new concept. As Hippocrates famously stated, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. The foods we choose can either fuel our bodies and promote vitality, or it can contribute to chronic diseases and overall health decline. Food has long been celebrated for its ability to delight our taste buds, but recently it has been taken more seriously as a healer and ally in our quest for optimal well-being. As modern medicine continues to advance, and new drugs and therapies are discovered, it is important to remember that the foods we eat also play a powerful role in preventing and even reversing disease.


Fueling the Body for Optimal Health 

In our journey to harness the power of food as medicine, one of the fundamental principles is the significance of fueling our bodies with nutrient-dense, whole foods for optimal health. According to a study published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and certain cancers, and can contribute to overall well-being[1]. These foods provide the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that our bodies need to function at their best. A balanced diet also helps to keep our cells healthy, our immune system strong, and is necessary for preventing chronic diseases and fighting off infections.

Alternatively, a poor diet can increase overall disease risk and exasperate underlying health conditions. A study was conducted in 2017 to evaluate the consumption of major foods and nutrients across 195 countries and to quantify the impact of their suboptimal intake on mortality and morbidity. It showed that 11 million deaths and 255 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) were likely due to poor diet[2]. Another population-based cohort study conducted in 2018 showed out of 100,000 people, every 10% increase in ultra-processed food intake resulted in a 12% increase in cancer risk[3].



In addition to providing essential nutrients, food can also influence our genes. The field of nutrigenomics studies the interplay between our genes, food, and health. It is an emerging field that unfolds the role of nutrition on gene expression which brings together the science of bioinformatics, nutrition, molecular biology, genomics, epidemiology, and molecular medicine.

Research has shown that different individuals respond to specific nutrients in different ways, depending on their genetic makeup. This means that what is healthy for one person may not be healthy for another. For example, some people may be more sensitive to gluten, while others may be more likely to develop heart disease if they eat a lot of saturated fat. If you have a family history of heart disease, you may want to choose foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. By understanding how our genes interact with food, we can make more informed choices about the foods we eat to optimize our health. Personalized nutrition, guided by genetic insights and modern medicine, can help us to make informed choices that optimize our unique genetic potential for wellness and disease prevention.


food for the Mind: Exploring the Gut-Brain Connection

Food also has a profound impact on our mental health. The gut-brain connection is the intricate relationship between our digestive system and our brain. Research has shown that a healthy gut microbiome can influence neurotransmitter production, mood regulation, and cognitive function. Several mechanisms for gut-to-brain communication have been identified, including microbial metabolites, immune, neuronal, and metabolic pathways, some of which could be prone to dietary modulation[4]. Simply stated: what we eat can have a significant impact on our mental well-being. A 2018 study showed that dietary coaching to improve mental health proved to be a cost-effective, practical, nonpharmacological intervention for individuals with psychiatric disorders[5]. A healthy diet that includes plenty of fiber-rich foods can help to support a healthy gut microbiome, which can in turn influence mood, stress levels, and cognitive function.


Cultivating Sustainable Food Systems for a Healthier Future

The food choices we make have a ripple effect that goes beyond our own personal health. The way we produce and consume food also has a significant impact on the environment and society. Sustainable food systems are those that promote both personal and planetary health. They are based on principles such as regenerative agriculture, urban farming, and community-driven initiatives that promote access to nutritious food for all.

By making conscious food choices and supporting sustainable food systems, we can help to create a healthier future for ourselves, our children, and our planet. By supporting sustainable food systems, we can help to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious food and that we are protecting our environment for future generations, as well as mitigating climate change effects on our individual and population health outcomes.

11TENs Proactive Approach to Food as Medicine

Food is more than just fuel for our bodies. It is a powerful tool that we can use to improve our health and well-being, while mitigating the risk of preventable health conditions. By making informed choices about the foods we eat, we can harness the power of food to promote vitality, prevent disease, and enhance our overall well-being.

The 11TEN team is passionate about a proactive approach to health and are enthusiastic about healthcare innovation initiatives that are looking for guidance through the process. We have worked extensively in the biomarker space to understand how a person’s individual makeup can affect their disease progress and treatment needs.

Interested in informing implementation of evidence-based dietary interventions and providing a platform for evaluation of their impact on human health? 

11TEN is here to make that a reality. Contact our team today.


[1] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vegetables-and-fruits/

[2] GBD 2017 Diet Collaborators. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet. 2019 May 11;393(10184):1958-1972. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30041-8. Epub 2019 Apr 4. Erratum in: Lancet. 2021 Jun 26;397(10293):2466. PMID: 30954305; PMCID: PMC6899507.

[3] Fiolet T, Srour B, Sellem L, Kesse-Guyot E, Allès B, Méjean C, Deschasaux M, Fassier P, Latino-Martel P, Beslay M, Hercberg S, Lavalette C, Monteiro CA, Julia C, Touvier M. Consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort. BMJ. 2018 Feb 14;360:k322. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k322. PMID: 29444771; PMCID: PMC5811844.

[4] Berding K, Vlckova K, Marx W, Schellekens H, Stanton C, Clarke G, Jacka F, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. Diet and the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: Sowing the Seeds of Good Mental Health. Adv Nutr. 2021 Jul 30;12(4):1239-1285. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmaa181. PMID: 33693453; PMCID: PMC8321864.

[5] Mörkl S, Wagner-Skacel J, Lahousen T, Lackner S, Holasek SJ, Bengesser SA, Painold A, Holl AK, Reininghaus E. The Role of Nutrition and the Gut-Brain Axis in Psychiatry: A Review of the Literature. Neuropsychobiology. 2018 Sep 17:1-9. doi: 10.1159/000492834. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 30223263.