Is it possible to use foods to keep our immune systems healthy? Dr. Bill Rawls discusses what’s missing from our current diets and why even healthy diets can lack an important chemical for disease prevention and healthy aging, plus he explains what to add to keep your diet on track. Read more about ways to boost your immune system here.
Question: Is it possible to use foods to keep our immune systems healthy?
Tim Yarborough: Linda’s wondering if it’s possible to use only foods to keep our immune systems working. So maybe you can talk a little bit about the difference between foods and herbs and how they help the immune system.
Dr. Rawls: Yeah, you probably could if you went back to a foraged food diet. So you have to remember that for several hundred thousand years, people ate foraged foods. So what were foraged foods?
Well, it was about two-thirds plant matter and one-third animal matter in most places on Earth. It was upwards of 500 different types of plants every single day. It included leaves, stem, bark, roots. None of it had very much calories. That was a problem. We didn’t start living longer until we started farming because we weren’t getting enough calories, but we were getting tons of nutrients.
So humans were eating, when they ate an animal, they ate the whole thing. But wild berries, bark, roots, nuts, all of these things were the food for the average person, not grains and beans. And it’s only been in recent history that we’ve converted to that. But again, those foods didn’t have any calories in them. So we, so life became a lot easier when we converted to farming.
What we gave up when we started farming, though, was all these protective phytonutrients that I’ve been talking about — the phytochemicals. They’re not there in our food, even if you eat the best diet. So my one recommendation for diet is: eat more vegetables than anything else. But even if you’re eating lots and lots of vegetables, because these plants have been cultivated for hundreds of years, over and over, for producing food instead of phytochemicals, they don’t contain that protection anymore. So definitely eat a good diet.
My rules with diet are: eat more vegetables than anything else, eat fresh food, and don’t eat any more calories than you need in a day. It’s a pretty simple recommendation that works on a lot of different levels. But you’re still not going to get these phytochemicals that were loaded in the foraged food diet.
So that’s where the herbs come in. Because when we look at our herbs, what are herbs? Well, their stems and roots and bark and wild berries and all the things that were in the foraged food diet. So I see herbs as replacing something that’s been inherently missing in the human diet for way too long, that has so much protective capacity. It’s really extraordinary.