Foods That Prevent Disease
No one needs to tell you the importance of eating right. You know that sugar, fried ,fatty, white flour, and processed foods provide little or no nutritional value, and are not healthy. We truly "are what we eat." Food is not only the fuel that give us energy and provides nutrition, but can actually help to prevent disease.
So what should you eat? Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to start. Choose complex carbs (whole grains), low fat protein (turkey, chicken, fish), and omega 3 rich foods (salmon, flaxseeds) to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to heal, or stay healthy. Eat organic whenever possible...this lowers your exposure to toxins like pesticides and herbicides in produce and hormones and antibiotics in meat...which helps to alleviate an added burden to the immune system.
One of the best ways of preventing disease is to eat foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals (by-products) which can cause damage. Antioxidants act as "free radical scavengers" and hence prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals. Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer etc are all contributed by oxidative damage. Indeed, a recent study conducted by researchers from London found that 5 servings of fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.
Antioxidants are found in beans, grain products, and brightly colored fruits and vegetables:
- Vitamin A & Carotenoids are found in carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupes, peaches, and apricots
- Vitamin C is available in citrus fruits like oranges, limes, etc. Also in green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes
- Vitamin E is in nuts and seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, and vegetable oil
- Selenium is found in fish and shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic
- Phytochemicals like flavinoids and polyphenols are in soy, red wine, red grapes, pomegranate, cranberries and tea
- Lycopene is in tomatoes, tomato products, pink grapefruit and watermelon
- Lutein is found in dark green vegetables, kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussel sprouts and spinach
- Lignans are in flaxseeds, oatmeal, barley and rye
Recent research indicates that fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants, fiber, folate and postassium can provide protection against cancer, as well as stoke and heart attack. In London a study concluded that eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day reduced the risk of stroke by 25%, as compared to those who only ate 3 per day.
A University of California study followed more than 1550 women with breast cancer and after 5 years found that the women with the highest plasma carotenoid concentration had reduced the risk for recurrence by 40%! These vegetable include:
- Umbelliferous Vegetables such as carrots, celery, cilantro, parsley and parsnip
Vegetables with modest anit-cancer activity are:
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower
- Solanaceous vegetables like tomatoes and peppers
Make sure to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day!!
*The soy controversy:
The evidence is inconclusive as to whether or not soy prevents any disease, or if it is actually beneficial to the body. There is a lot of controversy on this topic, so it is something that you should investigat based on your personal history, needs and instincts. On the plus side soy is very high in protein and has all of the essential amino acids, which is the only vegetable source that does. It is also a good source of calcium, iron, zinc, phospohorus, magnesium, B Vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and fiber. Some of the more natural forms of soy products are soy milk, tofu, soy nuts, edamame, tempeh and miso.
There is some research indicating that soy has a modest effect on cholesterol, is good for the bones, and can be helpful in alleviating menopause symptoms. Results as to it’s effectiveness in combating cancer is inconclusive, and there has been some concern about it’s estrogen-like effects in isoflavones. Phytoestrogens in soy are “anti-estrogens” and may block estrogen from reaching receptors, potentially blocking women from developing breast cancer. The problem may be for post-menopausal women when soy can potentially become pro-estrogen and add estrogen to the body, increasing the risk of developing breast cancer.
My personal choice has been to eat soy a couple of times a week in it’s more natural form, like tofu, as opposed to soy butters, burgers, etc. One way to see how your body reacts to soy it to use Muscle Testing, which can be helpful in determining which foods are compatible with your body.
Garlic is at the top of many lists for its positive effect on good health. An Iowa Women’s Health Study discovered of 41,000 mid-aged women those who consumed garlic on a regular basis had 35% less risk of developing colon cancer. In a total of 37 different studies, 28 showed evidence that garlic can help to prevent cancer, especially of the prostate and stomach. It is believed that the allyl-sulfur compounds in the garlic can prevent cancer by slowing or preventing growth of the cancer tumor cells.
Other research indicates that garlic:
- Lowers total cholesterol and triglycerides
- Lowers blood pressure
- Is beneficial to the heart
- May prevent clogging in blood vessels*
The American Dietetic Association recommends 600-900 mg. or approximately one clove of garlic per day.
Tips for using garlic:
- Fresh: wait 15 minutes between peeling and cooking to allow enzymatic reaction to occur to retain health benefits.
- Supplements: use enteric coated so that the healthy ingredients can survive the stomach and be absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestines.
*If you are using aspirin or Warfarin (blood thinners) garlic supplements can further thin the blood, so discuss this with your doctor.
Another food that is a key source of antioxidants and has many other health benefits is whole grain. The definition of whole grain is that all three parts of the grain are present: bran, germ and endosperm. Most of the key source of antioxidants, B Vitamins, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Iron and Fiber are found in the germ and the bran of the grain.
Whole grain has been indicated to help reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol, blood pressure and blood coagulation...it also may reduce the risk of some cancers and regulate blood glucose in people with diabetes. And people who consume whole grains usually weigh less than those you don't.
The USDA recommendation is to have 3 servings of whole grains per day.
Common Whole Grain Foods:
- Wild Rice
- Brown Rice
- Whole Wheat
- Whole Oats
- Whole Rye
And don't assume that if a grain is brown that it is whole grain - caramel coloring may have been added to give it a darker color. Read labels, if it does not say "whole" or have the Whole Grain Stamp, it is probably not whole grain. Watch for these deceiving descriptions: Mutltigrain, StoneGround, 100% Wheat, Cracked Wheat, Seven Grain, Bran.
These amazing seeds are loaded with beneficial nutrients like a high content of alpha- linolenic acids. This is a plant derived omega 3 fatty acid similar to that found in fish like salmon. They are also rich in lignans, a type of phytoestrogen that research indicates may help to prevent breast cancer. And they are a great way to add fiber to your diet - just sprinkle ground flax on your food!
Flax seeds are thought to help lower cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, lower blood triglycerides, lower blood pressure, and keep platelets from sticking reducing the risk of heart attack.
Tea (black, green, red) contains polyphenols which gives it antioxidant properties, and which may offer protection from free radical damage. To bring out the beneficial polyphenols you should brew the tea for 3-5 minutes. Research indicates that tea can reduce the risk for gastrointestinal, esophagal and skin cancer for those who drink 4-6 cups per day. It can also help to prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol. In 2005 the Archives of Internal Medicine published results of a study done by Swedish researchers who followed 60,000 women, ages 40-76, for 15 years and found that drinking 2 cups per day reduced the risk of ovarian cancer by 46%, 1 cup provided a 24% lower risk.
Foods To Avoid:
It appears that alcohol may increase the risk of mouth, larynx, pharynx and esophagal cancers. Also cancer of the colon, rectum, breast and liver.
Why? The sensitive tissues of the upper respiratory tract are directly exposed to alcohol in beverages causing damage to cells and possibly initiating cancer.
It is suggested that everyone drink in moderation...no more than 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women. One drink is considered to be a 12 oz. bottle or can of beer, one 5 oz. glass of wine, or one 1.5 oz shot of 80 proof liquor.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research there is an indication that people who do drink moderately can benefit from a lower risk of heart disease, but higher amounts can increase risk of cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, birth defects, etc. Also women with an increased risk of breast cancer should not drink as it is possible that drinking can increase chances of that cancer.
The reason women can't tolerate as much alcohol as men is that they have more fat and less muscle and alcohol can be diluted into water holding muscle tissue, but not into fat tissue, and therefore it can not be diluted in women as quickly. Women also can't metabolize as quickly and the alcohol stays in the bloodstream longer.
The Journal of National Cancer Institute published a report by researchers in Stockholm in which 15 studies done on 4700 patients showed an increase in stomach cancer by 15 to 38% if consumption of processed meats increased by one ounce per day. Studies also link processed meats to pancreatic and colorectal cancer, but this reseach is not conclusive. It is recommended to stay away from salted, cured, smoked, and meats preserved with nitrates such as: bacon, sausage, ham, hot dogs, salami, lunch meats and other cured meats.
The American Cancer Socitey recommends that you limit consumption of red meats, especially those high in fat and that are processed. Other choices to consider:
- Choose fish, poultry or beans as an alternative
- Select leaner cuts
Beef: eye of round, top round, top sirloin, flank
Pork: tenderloin and loin chops
- Watch portions - 1 serving is the size of a deck of cards
- Use less oil: bake, broil, poach
Even though we all love to barbeque, it appears that it should be a more occasional treat rather than a daily way to cook meat. When cooked at high temperatures muscle meats such as beef, pork, poultry and fish form HCAs (eterocyclic mines), which is a carcinogen - a cancer causing substance. PAHs (olycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), another carcinogen, can form on the surface of meat when smoke and flames flare, which occurs when fat and juice drips onto the heat source below. These carcinogens found on grilled meats have been linked to breast and colorectal cancer.
Tips to Minimize Exposure:
- Reduce time meat stays on the grill - remove before well done, or microwave first and then finish on the grill
- Choose lean cuts of meat and trim visible fat
- Marinate meat - it may reduce the build-up on carcinogens
- Trim and discard charred portions of meat, do not eat blackened
- Eat less meat, fill up on side dishes of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Try alternative vegetable derived protein sources like vege burgers
Source of information: www.HealthCastle.com