Food: The Most Powerful Weapon against Disease

What we eat can help us stay healthy or make us sick. For health, the majority of our food should come from real food, mostly plant-based. The best foods for health are nutrient-dense, superfoods.

This will help us be the exception rather than what is sadly become the sickly normal. There’s an unprecedented health crisis in the United States:

  • heart disease, cancer and diabetes are increasing
  • two-thirds of people are obese leading to numerous medical ailments
  • nd for the first time, younger generations have shorter life expectancy than their parents
[su_expanding_quote_without_link source=”The China Study, Colin T. Campbell” full_quote=”By any measure, America’s health is failing. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and over 15 million Americans have diabetes. Heart disease kills as often as it did thirty years ago, and the War on Cancer has failed. Half of Americans have a health problem that requires taking a prescription drug, and over 100 million Americans have high cholesterol. These issues all come down to three things: breakfast, lunch and dinner. ” short_quote=”America’s health is failing…These issues all come down to three things: breakfast, lunch and dinner.”]

Chronic diseases can be traced to the nutrient-poor American diet; 60% of calories are from processed foods made with added sweeteners, white flour, oils, generally mixed with additives, coloring agents and preservatives to extend shelf life. Americans consume less than 5% of their calories from unrefined plant foods such as fruits, beans, seeds and vegetables.

[su_expanding_quote_without_link source=”Eat to Live, Joel Fuhrman MD” full_quote=”Medical science now proves that three of the leading causes of death are related to food and lifestyle: heart disease, diabetes and cancer.” The most pervasive killer in the US is heart disease. The rates at which we die from cancer are among the highest in the world. One out of 13 Americans now has diabetes, an increase of unprecedented proportions; among people in their 30s diabetes has increased 70% in less than ten years.” short_quote=”Medical science now proves that three of the leading causes of death are related to food and lifestyle”]

Most of the damage to our food and health caused by industrialization of our eating can be reversed. The most powerful weapon against disease is the food we choose to eat every day. By eating differently we can boost our immune system, reduce the need for pharmaceutical drugs and reverse deaths from heart disease, cancer and diabetes, generate health and a sense of physical and mental wellbeing. Knowing this, I choose a plant-rich, whole-foods lifestyle, with moderate intake of meat, and minimal processed foods.

[su_expanding_quote_without_link source=”Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food” full_quote=”Diseases that now kill most of us can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food: the rise of highly processed foods and refined grains; the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in huge monocultures; the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat produced by modern agriculture, and the narrowing of biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops, notably wheat, corn and soy. This is the basis of the Western diet: lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar. Wherever in the world people give up their traditional way of eating and adopted the Western diet, there soon followed a series of Western diseases – obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer” short_quote=”Diseases that now kill most of us can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food”]

What to do? My rule of thumb is to make good food choices 60 – 70% of the time and aim for:

  • Minimal processed or fast foods
  • Aim for two vegetables/fruits and nuts/seeds every breakfast ( fresh fruit, green smoothies, oatmeal/grains or nutrient-dense muffins rather than coffee and processed cereal or bagels)
  • Greens/cruciferous, whole-grains, onion, daily
  • Beans and berries at least four times a week
  • Less meat and better meat (natural or organic) alternating vegetarian and omnivore dinners
  • Water or iced teas (herbal, green and black tea) instead of sodas or juice
  • Dairy as an occasional indulgence rather than an everyday necessity

It seems expensive to buy whole-grains and nuts/seeds, but by re-allocating grocery dollars from dairy, processed cold meats and breakfast cereals we can stay within budget. Better meat and fish (natural or organic) is possible by reducing frequency (every day to a couple times a week) and selecting quality over quantity.

The more of us who vote with our forks for a different kind of food, the more commonplace and affordable organic produce and meats will become.

I believe healthy food must be delicious to facilitate lifestyle rather than feel deprived and
“on a diet”.

Additional resources on Food and Health:
Dr. Fuhrman: Check out the Learn section
Simple Green

Fantastic resource for easily incorporating more greens and fruits into daily life. The FREE 30-day challenges provide weekly recipes and shopping lists for four weeks.