blog

15-11-2019

Let Food be Your Medicine
Eat your way to optimal health!

Scientific research has only made significant progress in the last decade in uncovering the real secret to good health - nutrition - not by ingesting supplements and pills, but by eating real food. 

Doctors, scientists and academics are just coming to grips at how food influences the body’s immunity and DNA at a molecular and cellular level, bringing new meaning to the age-old adage “Let Food be Thy Medicine” attributed to Hippocrates - the father of medicine. 

 

What exactly is optimal health? 

To first understand the benefits of food on overall health and wellbeing, it is essential to define exactly what is health itself. 

Scientists have distilled that there are five key pillars in your body that keep you in an optimal state of health: 

Angiogenesis

If all arteries and veins of the human circulatory system were laid end to end, the total length would be 100,000km - that is  an astonishing almost two and a half times around the Earth. Angiogenesis is the process in which new blood vessels are formed. As long as the angiogenesis system operates perfectly, it grows the right blood vessels at the right time. However, when the body loses control over this process, disease can invade, especially cancers, as tumours could grow unchecked. 

 

DNA Protection

Our DNA is not only the blueprint that shapes our physical characteristics and traits, but it also programmed to be of our main lines of immunity defence. It has repair mechanisms that shield us from sun damage, stress and poor diets. The telomeres - found on the tips of our DNA strands - and which play a big role in influencing aging - can be lengthened and strengthened by eating the right combination of foods. 

 

Immunity 

The prime defenders of our body, the while blood cells, are much more complex than what scientific researchers previously thought. It is influenced by the gut, and if it is kept in balance, it can be harnessed to successfully detect and wipe out deadly diseases, including cancer. 

 

Microbiome

A lot of research into nutrition in recent years has focused on the complex gut microbiome. Long misunderstood, scientists are now just realising the special role it plays, especially for immunity, alongside angiogenesis and even brain function. Microbiome diversity therefore plays an integral role in your health, and it even influences influences how much fat your store as well as your moods. 

 

Regeneration 

Our body works hard to regenerate itself each and every day. This remarkable feat can be attributed to the 750,000 stem cells -  that reside in your bone marrow, lungs and liver and almost every other organ. There stem cells work to maintain, repair and regenerate, keeping us well and truly alive. 

What we now know regarding stem cells dates back to the atomic bomb that befell Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II. Some doctors observed that patients who had survived the initial devastating blasts still perished in a second wave, because radiation poisoning had undermined their ability to renew their  own cells. However, two Canadian scientists, James Till and Ernest McCullough showed in 1961 that stem cells can be regenerated if they are injected in time after being exposed to lethal levels of radiation. 

Besides radiation, stems cells can be damaged by heavy drinking as well as smoking - even by being exposed to second-hand smoke. 

Health is not the absence of illness or disease. It is an active state, where all the five pillars mentioned are working in perfect synergy Each of these are intimately impacted by your diet. When it comes to preventing disease, nothing beats diet for safety and accessibility. 

Drugs are designed to do a one-off, ultra-focused job - to take something down or to build natural systems up. Take the cancer drug Avastin for example. It turns down the body’s  angiogenesis system to stop the growth of blood vessels to tumours. But it does its job only too well and causes side effects such as poor wound healing. 

Diet factors in food on the other hand, only turns down angiogenesis to a baseline level - meaning that food that even though it starves an invading cancer, it will not affect healthy organs and cells. 

 

So what should I be eating? 

 

Kale is the most over-hyped vegetable in the world, but it fully deserves its superfood status.At least six anti-angiogenic bioactives are present in kale, giving it remarkable anti-cancer properties.

 

People who eat seafoods tend to live longer. This is most evident in Japan, where a diet rich in raw fish has propelled it to the top of the list for the highest life expectancy in the world, at 90 years old for women and for men, 84 years old. Compare this to the USA where the average life expectancy for women is 81 years old, and 76 for men.  We all know oily fish, and about Omega-3 fatty acids.  A large population study, the Singapore Chinese Health Study led by scientists from DUKE-NUS Medical School and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, have found an association between fish intake and a reduced risk of cancer. Eating 85 grams or more of fish daily was associated with 31% decreased risk in colon cancer. Seafood also counters the devastation caused by free radicals on your DNA. Hake, sea cucumber, salmon roe , sturgeon caviar and sea bass had the highest levels of protective Omega-3s. 

 

Turmeric possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-angiogenic and pro-regenerative properties. It is particularly helpful for those with diabetes, in order to improve blood flow, circulation and to repair damaged organs.  

 

The leaf, stalks and seeds of Chinese Celery (Nan Ling) contain a number of health giving properties. It improves brain circulation, grows nerves, reduces brain inflammation and limits damage from stroke. 

 

Adopting a Mediterranean diet has a proven scientific impact on helping to regenerate stem cells. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and fish protects vascular health and slows down aging. 

 

Green tea has the innate ability to target and kill cancer cells.  A study from the University of Salford in England showed that matcha green tea deprives breast cancer cells of energy, causing them to die. 

 

Fermented foods such as Sauerkraut and Kimchi delivers a lot of healthy bacteria to your gut. They reduce inflammation and even help protect you from viruses such as influenza. Kimchi is also a potent ally in the battle against the bulge, helping to reduce body fat.

 

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Along with its anti-angiogenic and anti-inflammatory properties, the cacao bean has positive effects on the gut microbiome as well as moods. Studies have shown that it boosts the presence of Lactobacillus, counteracting the effects of chronic anxiety and stress. 

 

Lycopene rich foods such as tomatoes, watermelon and guava should be ingested before sun exposure to reduce and repair DNA damage. It is less effective after radiation exposure.So the next time you take a flight or have an X-Ray done, drink some tomato or watermelon juice to maximise the effect. It is also effective against stomach infections - but only again if ingested before meals. 

 

Cranberry juice boosts your immune system’s power. It bolsters the ability of special white blood cells, gamma delta T cells, which are the first responders to invading viruses and bacteria. 

 

It is easy to integrate the foods listed in your diet everyday. 

 

The key is to ensure that you incorporate a variety of these healthy ingredients, eating each one at least every day of the week. And, always look for seasonal fresh foods and eat organic if you can. 

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Linda Haden

  • September