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Let Food Be Your Medicine
It has been known for centuries that food has the power to heal the body. This was confirmed in the 1700’s when sailors who ate citrus fruit were able to avoid scurvy. This led to the discovery of vitamin C. Since then there have been numerous studies linking foods along with certain dietary patterns that decrease the risk for chronic diseases. It is apparent that food not only provides enjoyment and fuel for the body, it can be powerful medicine to help prevent and manage disease.
Nutrients in Foods Fight Disease
Unlike medication, the food we eat contains an array of nutrients, from vitamins to minerals and phytonutrients. The body relies on these nutrients to ward off disease. If any of the nutrients are lacking, the body’s functioning can be impaired. This can lead to chronic illness including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
As with certain foods, dietary patterns also play a role in nourishing and protecting the body. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee looked at dietary patterns that prevent disease. The evidence revealed that diets rich in vegetables and fruits are linked to lower rates of chronic disease.
Foods with Medicinal Benefits
Although a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is associated with overall health, there are some foods that may have added health benefits. Consider including some of these foods to protect and enhance your health.
- Berries - can reduce chronic inflammation and cancer risk.
- Broccoli - along with cabbage, kale, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, rutabaga and Swiss chard may support healthy blood sugar, aid in cancer prevention and heart health.
- Cinnamon - is linked to better blood sugar.
- Cranberries - may prevent urinary tract infections.
- Fish - is rich in omega-3s which reduce inflammation, associated with heart disease. Dietary Guidelines advise eating fish at least twice a week.
- Fermented and cultured foods - support a healthy immune system and digestive function. Foods include: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso. Be mindful of portions as some may be higher in sodium.
- Garlic - there is probable evidence that garlic along with onions, leeks and scallions reduce the risk of developing some cancers.
- Ginger & Turmeric - are associated with reducing inflammation and pain. Ginger can also help relieve nausea.
- Green Tea - shown to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. May also be beneficial to heart health.
- Shitake Mushrooms - lower cholesterol, enhance immune system and have anti-cancer properties.
- Nuts - associated with cardiovascular function and maintaining healthy blood sugar. Be mindful of portions as they are packed with calories.
Always consult your medical professional for any health condition.
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