It is said that food is our best medicine. Let me say a few things about this statement. First of all our best medicine is our friendships and affirmative activities in life. Those people who live long and healthy, the baseline is that they have lots of friends of different ages, perhaps most important with children. Loneliness, depression and isolation are the worst things for all people, but particularly for those in the later years. I believe that the friendship, pets, laughter and enjoyment are better than anything to maintain and promote vigor and health. Good food and exercise are very important but on a second tier.
However, I am a big promoter of a healthy diet to maintain health and promote stamina. Americans still eat way too much junk food, fried foods, white flour products, sugary food, and not enough vegetables and whole grains and fruit. Here is my list of what I consider the ten best foods that we should eat every day. These are not listed according to a rating; they are all equally healthy.
1) Green vegetables, all kinds but not just romaine lettuce, broccoli and spinach, which are quite common in the American diet, but also the super healthy kale, collards and brussel sprouts, all containing a good range of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. All these greens contain antioxidants that prevent cancer. Other notable vegetables that are often ignored are cauliflower and cabbage, both powerhouses of good health. People who eat these two vegetables, and other similar ones, have less bowel diseases, including cancer.
2) Root vegetables; all are good. I like yams, carrots and turnip, rich in high quality fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Americans have too many bowel diseases caused by sluggish bowels because they do not eat root vegetables, greens and whole grain fibers. The high quality fiber is soothing and healing for the twenty-three feet of the small intestines.
3) Fish, By now almost all Americans have heard about the value of omega three fatty acids, the best source is fish like salmon and cod. Omega three fatty acids are healthy fats that promote joint, brain and heart health. Their value in diet is inhibited if we consume the “poor” quality fats, like hydrogenated fats, overly cooked fats, and saturated fats–which are found in all junk foods.
Think of poor quality fats as motor oil. You would not want to consume motor oil. Think of good quality fats as a golden lubricant for all bodily organs.
4) This fourth is a huge category: all highly colored fruits and vegetables, including the spices like cinnamon and turmuric. All these contain powerful antioxidants that prevent cancer, and promote immune health. Take one example from a major study at Harvard: those who commonly eat berries have less cognition problems later in life.For example prunes, blueberries and raspberries. Prunes are one of the healthiest foods in the supermarket.
5) In the previous category I mentioned spices: use them liberally: pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmuric, chili and many others. Turmuric, to take an example, is one of my select super herbs used in nutritional medicine to decrease inflammation in the body, to reduce the risk of cancer, to heal the liver, and to treat joint pain. Take turmuric along with fish oil for the brain, joints and liver. All the spices are good for circulation and the immune system.
6) Nuts. In small doses all nuts are healthy. For example, almond, cashew and peanut. I would not eat large amounts as they are high calorie.Walnuts, the old fashioned healers recommended these for the brain! Well, we used to scoff at that. Walnuts are the highest of any vegetable in omega-three fatty acids–food for the brain– not as high as fish but respectable. Peanuts, again not in large amounts or every day, are high in arginine, an amino acid that promotes stamina.
7) Oatmeal, the best way to start the day. Grandmother was right: Oats lower cholesterol, promote healthy bowel movements, promote energy and contain important antioxidants. I eat them in the morning three or four times weekly, the old fashioned oats, not the instant. I sometimes add a little fruit or prunes or nuts. A power breakfast.
8) In small amounts, 2 or 3 times weekly, I eat eggs, the natural free range high in omega three fatty acids. I always eat the whole eggs, boiled, or sauteed. A good energy food along with multigrain toast and fruit jam–a perfect way to start the day. I avoid all white flour in the mornings, and eat few white flour products during the week. All the fiber and nutrients have been stripped away.
9) I always advise that people eat small amounts of good quality yogurt during the week, another power food, especially good for the digestive tract which is abused in America. I try to buy the high quality farm yoghurt, not with sugars or flavoring, and the low fat. I never eat the no fat; and love the regular yoghurt but too much fat in that. Americans are ingesting way too many antibiotics that upset the intestines and kill healthy microboes,; they need yoghurt, greens, and fruits more than ever.
10) I promote eating whole grains like brown rice almost every day. I think food allergies are overpromoted in this country. They are so common, along with alot of other health problems, because people have eaten so poorly for so many years. But if you have been diagnosed with wheat allergies one should stay away from wheat products, which is too bad; milk products are also a problem for some people, and many Americans eat way too much dairy. If you tolerate dairy, and like it, it should be less than 10% of your diet.
11) I knew I couldn’t keep to 10 items. Number 11 is the remarkable oils that we should use in our cooking and on salads; cold pressed olive oil, rich in vitamins and good fats, and canola oil.
I try never to eat on the run, or when stressed, or while watching television. Try to focus on eating, enjoy and be grateful. In America we are very fortunate to have so many good foods readily available. Once I was hiking in the Himmalayas and all the local people had–this was March–was white rice, a few root vegetables and flour. Meat in those remote villages was a luxury food, and that being even more true in March.
Eating healthy usually means you will not have weight problems. Overy 70% of weight problems come from a sugary, white flour diet, and, of course, not exersing everyday. Avoid almost all sugar if you want to lose weight, and exercise daily, Some of our favorite luxury foods like muffins and ice cream can contain over 800 calories in one serving. This perverse high # tops a third of one’s calorie needs for the day!
Food is a good medicine that promotes a happy healthy you. Furthermore the right foods can be used to prevent a high range of serious diseases. Doctors, for the most part, have little knowledge or time to promote a healthy diet. The first line of their defense is medical drugs, which in ecological medicine are mostly used, and appreciated highly, for emergencies.