LET FOOD BE THY MEDICINE

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Ariel Fana’afi Ioane

In 17th century England, there was a terrible epidemic going around. They called it the Black Plague. It was so bad, that it spread to other countries and it killed a third of the population of Europe!

At the time nobody knew what caused the Plague, but they believed that if you sneezed, you were sure to die. That’s where the saying “Bless you” came from after someone sneezes…it was to bless you before you died! A new song was written for just the occasion too. It went:

“Ring-a-ring-a-rosie,

A pocket full of posies

Atishoo! Atishoo! 

We all fall down!”

And by “down” they meant dead. Only now do we know that what caused the deadly illness was a certain type of flea that carried the disease. Now, these fleas didn’t just hop around, freezing their butts in the cold, wet climate. They were transported by black rats and then people. Dead corpses would be infested with a population of them. 

Recent studies show that what might have been a huge factor in helping the fleas spread was the poor sewage system and poor hygiene in the city areas. Most commoners in those days lived in thatched roof houses, full of dust and dirt. This was the ideal nesting spot for rats (and therefore, the fleas too). The really poor folks didn’t even have houses so they slept on the filthy streets instead. Unless you were rich and well off, you couldn’t afford to take a bath and the river Thames wasn’t the ideal swimming spot (most people emptied their rubbish there and the sewage pipes also deposited the wastes there too…GROSS!!)  Another thing was that people didn’t eat healthy food. The rich would indulge in their fatty feasts of stuffed peacocks and 20 different kinds of jelly…while the poor ate rotting rabbit flesh with a few leaves of cabbage and beans they could salvage. So generally, nobody really ate healthily; rich or poor.

Add grubby living quarters, terrible food, and an infectious disease and what do you get? The deaths of several thousand people give or take.

Such environments are hard to find nowadays, with the World Health Organization keeping countries on their toes, along with hospitals and governments advising people to upkeep good hygiene and diet, along with medical supplies and antibiotics that the people of the Elizabethan Age didn’t have. 

The dawn of Medicine was a gift from above. From penicillin to vaccines to pasteurization, all the discoveries and “EUREKAS!!” from the late 1800s to our time now have give mankind longevity and second chances at cheating death. 

However, this doesn’t eliminate the illnesses in the world. We still fight a certain number of bugs every day like the common cold, diarrhea and chicken pox. The difference is, with our broader and better understanding of bacteria, viruses and their medicinal weaknesses; we should be more than able to stand immune to them. All it takes is making the right choice. 

You see, most of us think that the best way to fight off diseases is to gulp down a few paracetamol tablets and a dose of some pre-prescribed antibiotic once your throat feels itchy. That is NOT how our bodies work. In reality, antibiotics and manufactured pills are very hard to digest and absorb. Therefore they should only be used as a last resort.  

So what’s our first wave of attack, you ask? Hippocrates (406-3070 B.C.), a Greek physician (and also considered the father of medicine) once said “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”  And he was right!! Food, not only delicious and pleasant to the tongue, also has medicinal properties that aid in many different areas. They are also easier to digest and absorb than antibiotics. Just imagine if people of the medieval ages knew how important it was to eat the right things. If they knew that keeping good hygiene and a balanced diet was the best way to fight off diseases, they wouldn’t be dropping dead every minute…and we wouldn’t be singing “Ring-a-rosie” in pre-school (haha).  

So you see, these small and simple decisions go a long way! Eating a few lemons (sour but helpful) and a spoonful of honey every alternate morning can keep you away from getting the flu for several months!

Pick your fruit before popping pills.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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