How Food Can Be Your Medicine

Foods that can act like medicine for improving gut microbiome health and preventing disease.

‘I want you to think of your diet as your medicine – Lisa Rieniets ND.’

You eat every day, but do you understand why – or that food can help you prevent and heal disease?

Everything you put into your body has an effect.

The food you eat can nourish and enhance your health, or it can undermine the functioning ability of your organs.


Whenever you eat, you are actually putting chemistry into your body.

Millions upon millions of chemical reactions occur within your body’s cells all the time.

And they all depend upon the chemistry (the nutrition) you provide so they can create energy and perform their tasks well.

Nutrition simply means the process of providing your body with the right foods (chemistry) for growth, repairs, and maintaining balance (health).

Nutritional biochemistry is an area of science that seeks to understand the properties of food and how they interact within your body – and investigates the links between diet and disease.

From nutritional biochemistry studies, functional foods have emerged as a means of providing optimal nutrition to combat disease.


Functional food is defined as nutrition that provides additional health benefits. They are usually fortified (nutritionally enhanced) foods. Nutrients are added for a specific purpose.

Cereals, bread, and milk products are often fortified with vitamins and minerals to counteract unhealthy diets and nutritional deficiencies in populations.

The concept of functional foods emerged in Japan in the 1980s when dealing with escalating healthcare costs. The science of functional foods has now spread worldwide to address lifestyle diseases.

The products and recipes we create at the clinic for our clients serve as functional foods that target specific activities in your body. Our goal is to enhance nutrition to promote health and healing.

Nutritional supplements are also used to restore chemistry imbalances and stimulate your body’s innate ability to heal.

I always share the analogy of a garden that’s in poor condition with my clients. A garden is an ecosystem – an interacting, connective network of living organisms – that can restore itself when properly fed with nutrients (manure and minerals), soil conditioners, microbes, adequate water, and sunlight.

Like a garden, your body is also a complex interactive system that can revitalise with the right chemistry (nutrition), which is why I tell my clients to think of their diet as medicine.


Your body has twelve systems that constantly interact and work together to maintain your life.

Health can be seen as the result of balance and flow in and between your body systems.

The degree that you (as an ecosystem) function effectively depends on how well you nourish your body.

We have 12 human body systems that depend on healthy food to create energy and function effectively.


Food provides chemistry, and every system in your body has unique nutritional requirements.

Your gut (part of your digestive system) is an excellent place to introduce functional foods to improve your health.

Your gut (gastrointestinal tract) is like your body’s engine room that the rest of your systems depend on to function, create energy, harmonise mood, maintain your life, and protect you from disease-causing pathogens.

Trillions of micro-organisms (your gut microbiome) live in your gut, keeping your engine room running. And they need specific nutrition to maintain them in top condition.

Healing your gut means fortifying your diet with gut-friendly food and ditching everything that damages your microbiome.

Diagram of healthy gut flora and damaged gut flora as a result of poor nutrition and the food we eat.


The main functional foods for healing and maintaining gut health are prebiotic and probiotic foods.

Prebiotics and probiotics influence your microbial balance (increase health-promoting microbes), improving your overall health and strengthening your immune system capacity.

PREBIOTICS are different types of fibres that feed friendly gut bacteria.

Prebiotics and foods that have a prebiotic effect include oat bran • partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) • flaxseed • chia seed • green banana fibre • acacia fibre • inulin • chicory root, chickpeas • Jerusalem artichoke • shitake mushrooms • broccoli • leeks • garlic • onions • turmeric • dandelion greens • apples • and asparagus.

PROBIOTICS are live bacteria found in specific fermented foods or supplements.

Probiotic foods include non-dairy yoghurts containing live cultures • live coconut kefir • water kefir • kombucha • sauerkraut • kimchi • miso • tempeh • natto • kvass • fermented hemp • fermented papaya • and organic apple cider vinegar with the mother.

Image of different foods that promote gut health within a gut outline.


In the coming months, I’ll be writing about each of the twelve systems of your body and specific functional foods that help them heal and maintain optimum balance. I’ll even include recipes you can incorporate into your daily diet.

In the meantime, visit our Healthy Gut Reboot blog and focus on restoring and maintaining your engine room.

Wishing you the very best of health,

Lisa Rieniets ND


Alkhatib A. Antiviral Functional Foods and Exercise Lifestyle Prevention of Coronavirus. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 28;12(9):2633. doi: 10.3390/nu12092633. PMID: 32872374; PMCID: PMC7551447.

Alsheraji, Sadeq & A, Ismail & Abd Manap, Yazid & Shuhaimi, Mustafa & Yusof, Rokiah & Hassan, Fouad. (2013). Prebiotics as functional foods: A review. Journal of Functional Foods. 5. 1542–1553. 10.1016/j.jff.2013.08.009.

Arai S. Functional food science in Japan: state of the art. Biofactors. 2000;12(1-4):13-6. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520120103. PMID: 11216474.

Moore, Sarah. 2021. What is Nutritional Biochemistry? News-Medical, viewed 15 November 2022,

Ohama H, Ikeda H, Moriyama H. Health foods and foods with health claims in Japan. Toxicology. 2006 Apr 3;221(1):95-111. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2006.01.015. Epub 2006 Feb 20. PMID: 16488527.

Make your diet your medicine!