St. Hildegard von Bingen, a medieval saint born around the year 1098, penned scientific observations and ideas that continue to amaze modern researchers. As a Benedictine abbess, she wrote books, composed music, and advised world leaders. But perhaps most notable of all her works are her writings on science, natural history, and medicine.
Considered to be one of the first women to write about science and scripture in the Middle Ages, St. Hildegard’s theories are a mix of both theoretical information and the important practical skills she developed during her research and experiments. For one, she believed that in in order to treat physical diseases, one must have a holistic approach where the soul, body, and mind should be aligned—an idea that physicians are starting to consider more and more today.
She advocated for the fundamental healing power of food and wrote recipes that are memorialized in a cookbook, From Saint Hildegard’s Kitchen: Foods on Health, Foods of Joy by fan and famed French chef Jany Fournier-Rosset.
The Real Deal
St. Hildegard said that with proper nutrition, one can prevent the need for pills and elixirs. For example, she said that bakers should eat cookies based on her recipe often: “Cookies reduce bad humor, enrich the blood and fortify the nerves.” The blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves not only banishes melancholy but also releases one’s intelligence. The saint also stated that eating cookies helps keeps one youthful in body and spirit.
Moreover, her recommendation on spelt, a type of wheat, has proven to help with digestion and is actually a mood booster. Spelt contains tryptophan, which activates serotonin, a hormone that positively affects the mood.
Interestingly, St. Hildegard did not recommend breakfast. She suggested that healthy people should not eat very early and should fast for 13-17 hours between dinner and lunch the next day—a philosophy that easily aligns with intermittent fasting, which is all the rage today. She also cautioned that taking too much water and liquid would flood the body, diluting its natural fluids—a concept now known as hyponatremia or the dilution of sodium levels in the blood. She recommends taking fruits with high water content as an alternative to water.
Also Read: Feed Your Soul Right!