Knowledge is power! From our blog archives, this is a great one for you to read if you haven't already. I spell out the BASICS of current nutritional science, to help you both prevent and heal a myriad of health conditions. Very handy.
Especially if you are seeking to improve a complex health condition, you may feel like you need to acquire a PhD in order to find your way! Your doctor doesn’t have all the answers, NOBODY seems to have all the answers, so you may feel like it’s on all on you.
Yes, there are lots of studies out there, and yes, we’re all different and there are lots of customizations possible. But starting with the food science basics can take you a LONG way towards elevating your health.
If you are seeking health, no matter what your condition or concern, you’ll want to emphasize:
Anti-inflammatory foods: The list is long. Think whole foods that are colorful; think “eat the rainbow.” Your plate should look like a Crayola crayon box spilled onto it, with purples, reds, golds, greens, oranges. The richer the pigment, the more anti-inflammatory.
Blood sugar regulation: This is a biggie. Blood sugar issues can send your body onto a roller coaster that can lead to obesity and diabetes. Here’s what you do: (1) Cut way down on refined carbs and (2) introduce more whole grains, vegetables and healthy fats into your diet. Those are the things that regulate blood sugar.
Reducing oxidative stress: Many cellular processes, including those of the immune system, create waste, some of it in the form of free radicals. If these highly reactive substances aren’t neutralized they can keep your immune system in four-alarm fire mode. Enter antioxidants, your protective posse, ready to pick off free-radicals.
Regulation of NF Kappa B: NF-κB is a protein complex that controls transcription of DNA, cytokine production and cell survival. Regulating NF-κB with the food you eat can turn that cancer switch off. Herbs and spices, such as basil, rosemary, ginger, mint, and curcumin (turmeric) can inhibit NF-κB, and act as that master switch.
In simple terms: Let’s imagine the parents leave the house. The teenagers decide to have a party! Their friends gets rowdy, everything gets turned upside down, the police come... NF Kappa B is like the house rowdies; inhibiting NF Kappa B is like the parents restoring order.
If you are eating a whole bunch of processed foods and simple carbs, you are going to activate the house rowdies! And if you have a genetic predisposition to a disease and you consistently barrage your body with unhealthy food choices (it’s ok to have a piece of cake at your kid’s birthday party), you’re going to activate the switch. You’re creating that inflammatory environment.
And vice versa, if you consistently eat foods in large amounts that are antioxidant in nature -- the cornucopia of brilliantly colored foods and herbs and spices -- you have the ability to keep that switch turned off. You don’t have to create that environment. Look at cultures around the world that tend not to express disease states that we struggle with, and you can see the power you have through food and lifestyle choices. Read more about epigenetics and the role of food and lifestyle in gene expression in my blog post, Get ready, get set...to be empowered!
Eating well for health doesn’t mean rigidity. It doesn’t mean you’re only allowed to eat boring foods. Au contraire! You’re encouraged to play with a variety of colorful foods, add delicious herbs and spices to say NO to an incredibly pro-inflammatory environment! As Dr. Donald Abrams, Cancer and Integrative Medicine Specialist at UCSF Medical Center says, “When you are dealing with cancer, you want to create the most inhospitable environment for cancer cells.”
That involves food. And there’s your PhD in food for healing.
FLAVOR is where the inherent health is. Healthy food is not hippy gruel. You don’t have to be deprived. If you really want to eat to create an environment to fight disease or lower your risk, you gotta incorporate the yum!
Try this on for size. If you are looking for health-supportive, brain-boosting, blood sugar-regulating, totally bright and delicious but not sugary yum -- this is the ticket. In fact, all the recipes in my books and my Recipe Box qualify as those 4 legs of the stool. You can make these foods, eat these foods, have a joyous experience, and address the 4 legs, without having to think to much more about it.
The bottom line: FOOD is empowering and TASTE is the driver. And sustainable nourishment is the key! And that only happens when your food tastes great.
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