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Apart from a recent bout of food poisoning, I haven’t been ill in the past year and a half.

I even managed to avoid getting flu when a number of people at the office and gym, as well as my husband, were sneezing and coughing.

Some may think it’s coincidental that that’s about how long I’ve been following a whole food diet, eliminating processed foods, dairy and refined sugar. But I believe there is more to it.

When I decided to follow a Paleo lifestyle, I had people asking if I took supplements, and my answer was always: I strive to get whatever I need from the food I eat.

Of course, the efficacy of this depends largely on the quality of food available, which is often directly linked to affordability and accessibility. But, this week’s column is about functional medicine, a buzz term at the moment, that seeks to address the root cause of disease, rather than the symptoms.

In his talk on the connection between lifestyle choices and brain health at the Paleo f(x) conference in Texas this year, Dr David Perlmutter, an American neurologist who specialises in brain health and nutrition, attributed the rise in the prevalence of lifestyle and neurodegenerative diseases to the “move to a Western diet and a lack of exercise”. “And these are things we have control over,” he noted.

What? Our choices are making us ill? We are increasingly making poor nutritional choices, we’re a lot more sedentary because we’re working longer hours and when it comes to unwinding, many of us slump over in front of the TV.

A doctor wrote to me after reading last week’s column. “I have been a staunch advocate of lifestyle changes in our community ever since I started my practice,” he said. “I (devised) a simple eating plan that has helped scores of people. I would like to see the world adopt this method of eating because it is so easy, cheap and so rewarding.”

The plan advised patients to cut out refined carbs and sugars, cooldrinks and fruit juices and eat only fresh fruit and veg as well as protein-rich meals.

Whole foods. Just what the doctor ordered. Of course I’m not advocating for people who have life-threatening diseases to go off their medication, but I am suggesting we fuel our bodies with nutritious foods that enable our immune system to ward off disease.

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