Unfortunately it can’t all be fun trips to Paris, meeting friends and dining out… time to get back down to some serious learning!
A couple of weeks ago I talked about the way western and eastern approaches to medicine differ, how here in the west doctors are trained to fix the broken part of the machine (the body), whereas in the east they look for the underlying cause.
We have explored this further, focusing on the role of nutrition in treating, eliminating and preventing chronic disease.
What is chronic disease?
Here’s just a few that I’m sure will be familiar to you: heart disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, stroke, epilepsy, Crohn’s …
Early signs may include joint or muscle pain, allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, ulcers, IBS, fatigue, lethargy, skin problems, bloodshot eyes…
It is now known that virtually all chronic diseases are linked to inflammation.
What is inflammation?
Acute inflammation is the body’s normal response to an injury, irritation, burn or surgery for example. It is a natural defence process designed to protect us. Think of it as a first response unit.
Chronic inflammation occurs when it stops being an acute response and your body no longer has the ability to turn off the inflammatory response and starts damaging healthy tissue in your body. Liken it to going for a gentle downhill bike ride to get some fresh air but the brakes fail – you’re out of control, you crash, causing multiple injuries! When the brake fails to turn off acute inflammation, the result is chronic disease, such as those detailed above.
Our bodies need to maintain a balance between the two, but when the off switch fails, leading to chronic inflammation, we need to know why.
The main causes are diet, genetics, stress, environmental toxins, lack of exercise and hidden or chronic infections.
As diet is usually the biggest cause, we are specifically looking at how the food we eat can give our bodies the tools to turn off inflammation.
I’m sure you don’t want a science lesson (and there are plenty of resources online if you do) so here I am simply going to list the main foods that you should include in your diet to reduce or alleviate symptoms of most chronic diseases.
I know it sounds simple and you’re probably wondering why your doctor hasn’t told you this, which brings me back to my post a couple of weeks ago and the introduction to this post. Generally western medical doctors receive very little nutritional training and are taught to treat the body as a machine. Prescribed medication however, treats the symptom, but not the cause.
I have read and watched a large number of papers and lectures as well as real-life stories of people curing themselves through diet change and I’m no longer surprised at the power of food. And the great thing is there are no side effects to eating well…. just be prepared for better health, glowing skin and lots of energy!
This list is courtesy of Dr. Weil, a medical doctor and expert in holistic health.
How much: 2-4 cups per day
Healthy choices: White tea (this isn’t breakfast tea with milk), green tea, oolong teas
HEALTHY HERBS & SPICES
How much: Unlimited amounts
Healthy choices: Turmeric, curry powder (which contains turmeric), ginger and garlic (dried and fresh), chili peppers, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme
OTHER SOURCES OF PROTEIN
How much: 1-2 servings a week (one portion is equal to 1 ounce of cheese, 1 eight-ounce serving of dairy, 1 egg, 3 ounces cooked poultry or skinless meat)
Healthy choices: High quality natural cheese and yogurt, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry, grass-fed lean meats
In general, try to reduce consumption of animal foods. If you eat chicken, choose organic, cage-free chicken and remove the skin and associated fat. Use organic dairy products moderately, especially yogurt and natural cheeses such as Emmental (Swiss), Jarlsberg and true Parmesan. If you eat eggs, choose omega-3 enriched eggs, or organic eggs from free-range chickens
COOKED ASIAN MUSHROOMS
How much: Unlimited amounts
Healthy choices: Shiitake, enokidake, maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available)
WHOLE SOY FOODS
How much: 1-2 servings per day (one serving is equal to ½ cup tofu or tempeh, 1 cup soymilk, ½ cup cooked edamame, 1 ounce of soynuts)
Healthy choices: Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soymilk
Choose whole soy foods over fractionated foods like isolated soy protein powders and imitation meats made with soy isolate
FISH & SEAFOOD
How much: 2-6 servings per week (one serving is equal to 4 ounces of fish or seafood)
Healthy choices: Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish)
How much: 5-7 servings per day (one serving is equal to 1 teaspoon of oil, 2 walnuts, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed, 1 ounce of avocado)
Healthy choices: For cooking, use extra virgin olive oil and expeller-pressed organic canola oil. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts (especially walnuts), avocados, and seeds – including hemp seeds and freshly ground flaxseed. Omega-3 fats are also found in cold water fish, omega-3 enriched eggs, and whole soy foods. Organic, expeller pressed, high-oleic sunflower or safflower oils may also be used, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils in salads and dark roasted sesame oil as a flavoring for soups and stir-fries
WHOLE & CRACKED GRAINS
How much: 3-5 servings a day (one serving is equal to about ½ cup cooked grains)
Healthy choices: Brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat, groats, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats
PASTA (al dente)
How much: 2-3 servings per week (one serving is equal to about ½ cup cooked pasta)
Healthy choices: Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean thread noodles, and part whole wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba
BEANS & LEGUMES
How much: 1-2 servings per day (one serving is equal to ½ cup cooked beans or legumes)
Healthy choices: Beans like Anasazi, adzuki and black, as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils
Eat them well-cooked either whole or pureed into spreads like hummus
How much: 4-5 servings per day minimum (one serving is equal to 2 cups salad greens, ½ cup vegetables cooked, raw or juiced)
Healthy Choices: Lightly cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cauliflower), carrots, beets, onions, peas, squashes, sea vegetables and washed raw salad greens
How much: 3-4 servings per day (one serving is equal to 1 medium size piece of fruit, ½ cup chopped fruit, ¼ cup of dried fruit)
Healthy choices: Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears – all lower in glycemic load than most tropical fruits
How much: Sparingly
Healthy choices: Unsweetened dried fruit, 70%+ dark chocolate, fruit sorbet
How much: Optional, no more than 1-2 glasses per day
Healthy choices: Organic red wine, but if you do not drink alcohol, don’t start
How much: Daily
Healthy choices: High quality multivitamin/multimineral that includes key antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, and selenium); co-enzyme Q10; 2-3 grams of a molecularly distilled fish oil; 2,000 IU of vitamin D3
How much: Throughout the day
Healthy choices: Drink pure water, or drinks that are mostly water (tea, very diluted fruit juice, sparkling water with lemon) throughout the day.
On his website Dr, Weil explains why these foods work to reduce inflammation so if you’d like to know more please click here.
So whether you suffer from a chronic disease or have any of the early symptoms, I seriously recommend you evaluate your diet. And for those who don’t, be sure to eat well and keep it that way!
I’d love to hear your own stories on self-treating chronic disease or early symptoms with diet changes. Please leave a comment below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hop on over to my Facebook page.
Thank you as always. Until next week….