Saturday, January 28, 2017

Proactive Health: Foods That Make a Difference

With many concerned about the future of the Affordable Care Act, now more than ever it’s important to practice “proactive health,” measures that will keep you healthy and reduce the need for insurance. This week features foods that have been shown to make a difference.

While there is much to be learned from the “Blue Zones” studies, one very important point is that many of these areas, where people live to incredibly old ages, not only have significantly less disease then in the US but also less health care. In other words, being healthy does not equal having health insurance.

There are nine common characteristics of those cultures where longevity is common place. Three of the “Power Nine” pertain to diet, with the leading one being eating “plant slant.” Meats are eaten, but they are generally lean and in small portions-sort of like a side dish. Interestingly, in Loma Linda, Ca, the US’s only Blue Zone, Pesco-vegetarians in the community, who ate a plant-based diet with up to one serving of fish a day, lived longer than vegan Adventists.

While drinking alcohol moderately 1-2 glasses per day seems to be a common characteristic (not in Loma Linda, which has a strong 7th Day Adventist culture) in July 2016 a longitudinal study found that alcohol can cause at least seven types of cancer with heavy drinkers most at risk. However, even those who consume low to moderate amounts were also found to be at increased risk. 

Check out Blue Zone recipes, which all take less than 30 minutes to assemble. The ones I’ve tried have been good.

Choose food that help to boost immune function.  Five micronutrients—vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc—play roles in maintaining immune function. While these are heavily touted in supplement form, there is no evidence that such supplements have more benefits than following a healthy diet. Rather than popping pills to get these micronutrients, you're wiser to use various foods to boost your immune system. Micronutrients Have Major Impact on Health: Foods to Boost Your Immune System 

Foods to boost your immune system
Food sources
Vitamin B6
Chicken, cereals, bananas, pork loin, potatoes with skin
Vitamin C
Tomatoes, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit
Vitamin E
Sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, safflower oil, peanut butter
Whole wheat, legumes, nuts, seeds
Oysters, beef shank, Alaskan king crab, turkey (dark meat)

Inflammation is considered to be an underling factor for many diseases. More and more the research is showing that the key to reducing inflammation comes from the kitchen not the pharmacy. Foods that inflame include: refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread and pastries); fried foods; soda and other sugar sweetened drinks; red meats and processed meats (hot dogs, sausage) and margarine (shortening and lard).

Foods that combat inflammation include: tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale and collards); nuts; fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines) and fruits (strawberries, cherries, apples and oranges). Foods that Fight Inflammation Harvard Women’s Health Watch 

Study after study indicates that one of the healthiest diets to follow is the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and healthy oils. Use the handy chart to understand how to follow this diet.

Finally there is chocolate, which does have some very healthy properties, particularly dark chocolate. Since I adore chocolate, that’s a good thing. However, portion control is key. Heart Healthy Benefits of Chocolate Cleveland Clinic 

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