More than 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician and founder of Western medicine, understood the importance of food and our diet to our overall health and as a predictor of illness. While some people may be genetically predisposed to certain types of illnesses, it has been proven that you can affect your long-term health and even mitigate some of those risks by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the average American lifestyle today is anything but healthy, it is high in fat, processed foods, sodium, and sugars and low in exercise and healthy whole foods and vegetables. Some conscious choices regarding a healthy lifestyle can result in improved overall health, more energy, and help you prevent the onset of many health conditions.
Eating for Disease Prevention
Experts have recommended eating a healthy, balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables for decades.Research shows that those who eat an abundance of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. Eating a healthy diet will also help you manage your weight.
If you’re really interested in pursuing good health, however, take it one step further and eat for disease prevention. Specific foods have been identified for their disease-preventing qualities, and some are even credited with reversing the damage caused by disease. Some have even been called “superfoods.” The World’s Healthiest Foods.com is one of my favorite food websites and it lists 130 foods that it has identified as the world’s healthiest and it provides recipes on how you can prepare those foods.
I keep the following list of healthy foods on my refrigerator and refer to it when I make my grocer shopping list and when I plan my menus. I work to incorporate fruits and vegetables in my meals and also include the following foods frequently and intentionally into my family’s diet:
- Teas: Green Tea
- Berries: Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries
- Fruit: Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Apples, Pineapple, Cherries, Red Grapes
- Vegetables: Bok Choy, Kale, Artichokes, Pumpkin, Sea Cucumber
- Herbs and Spices: Turmeric, Nutmeg, Lavender, Parsley
- Seafood: Tuna
- Other: Dark Chocolate, Red Wine, Ginseng, Licorice, Soy Beans, Maitake Mushrooms
Know Your Risk Factors and Eat Accordingly
Your family’s health history can also provide a lot of information about conditions that we may be prone to having later in life. If we know these conditions, we can make a conscious choice to eat in a way that will help prevent the onset of those conditions. For instance if your family has a history of high blood pressure, eating a healthy diet that includes potassium can help reduce your risks. Foods that are high in potassium include sweet potatoes, tomato paste, beet greens, potatoes, white beans, lima beans, cooked greens, carrot juice, and prune juice. Integrating those foods into your meal planning is an easy and effective way to take care of your health.
The Nutrition and Food Web Archive (NAFWA) provides a free chart listing common foods and their health benefits to help you get started.
Do you consciously include specific foods in your diet for health reasons? Which ones? Share your thoughts below.
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