If we put the wrong type of fuel in our vehicles, we are going to have them coughing and spluttering in no time.
And so it is with our bodies. If we keep feeding them processed food that is high in refined carbs and sugars, preservatives and flavour enhancers- all man-made or highly tampered with ingredients, then we are gradually going to notice poorer performance from our number one asset...our amazing human body!
An organic, wholefood, plant based, non-processed diet is absolutely hands down the best prevention for disease. It is a win win for our environment too, as growing crops organically without the use of toxic pesticides or genetic modification, is essential for soil health and protection of the plant and animal species we share our beautiful planet with.
The trick to any lifestyle improvement is learning how to kick bad habits and adopt new ones that serve us better. It sounds easy, but we've all tried and given up at some stage haven't we! It doesn't have to be that way and it is possible to make the changes we need to feel happier and healthier...
The link between our food choices and the state of our health is well researched. The specific connection between our diet and cancer prevention has been established for decades. In Susan Silberstein's Book "Kitchen Chemotherapy" she explores what the research tells us about dietary change for cancer prevention and control, citing some of the many studies that fully endorse a wholefood, heavily plant based diet as the key to reducing our cancer risk and many other preventable killer diseases as well.
The most well known of these is named: "The China Study" published in 2006, written by T.Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas Campbell, MD. This was undertaken as a huge collaboration between scientists from Cornell University, the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Oxford University. As a result of this study of over 6,500 adults, it was discovered that there was a strong correlation between consumption of animal protein in all its forms, from dairy to meat products and the subsequent formation of cancer. They established that animal protein could cause tumors to grow, whereas plant proteins would do the opposite- stop or even reduce growth of a tumor. Part of the reason for this is due to certain risk factors attributed to animal protein- such as being high in fat and devoid of fiber. A British study of over 6,000 vegetarians, similarly found that they were 40% less likely to die of cancer than meat-eaters.
Breast and prostate cancer risk is said to be much higher when one consumes a diet high in animal protein and fat. A twenty year research study at the Loma Linda University in California revealed that men who eat meat are three times more likely to suffer from prostate cancer than vegetarians.
But it is not just meat which encourages cancer growth, dairy is equally considered to be a dangerous protein source. Both forms of protein can harbor bovine growth hormones if not farmed organically...these encourage glandular type tumors to grow and are associated with metastatic spread of advanced cancers. The main protein in milk, casein, is known to enhance the rapid growth of existing cancer cells, as is the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) also found in dairy products.
Refined carbohydrates also throw fuel on the cancer fire. We know that cancer loves glucose. The reason why a PET scan (Positron emission tomography), is a favoured test to detect where a tumor is hiding, is because Doctors understand that when the radioactive injected glucose begins circulating in the body, cancer cells are the first to eagerly uptake the sugary solution. Sugar also suppresses immune response by reducing the capacity of phagocytic white blood cells. For this reason sugar is therefore linked to more aggressive growth of diagnosed cancers.
Meet Professor T.Colin Campbell on this informative TedX Talk. His popular book (co-authored with his son, a physician) titled 'The China Study', has been translated into more than 50 foreign languages and has sold well over 2 million copies. His second book, Whole (2013), was a New York Times best seller. He has established the 'T.Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies' which is a valued resource for those wishing to learn more about a wholefood plant based diet.
Real raw food is what we are lacking. Produce that is picked or harvested direct from a plant is the most preferred. As soon as it gets tampered with, which refers to being cooked, preserved or processed, it loses some nutritional value. Enzymes which are essential for good health, effective digestion and a strong immune, are mostly lost or denatured during such processes. The least damaging preservation processes which leave both nutrients and enzymes more intact would be drying at low temperatures and freezing. But if you first blanch produce, before freezing, then once again, enzyme function is mostly lost. This is not of great concern if you include lots of raw fruit, vegetables and sprouts in your everyday meals and snacks alongside any cooked food you may consume. When you do cook vegies, consider steaming as superior method or when boiled, drink the broth as well i.e.casseroles and soups.
However, the type of processed foods that we are more concerned with here are those which no longer resemble their original selves. And even in this category there are of course those products which are worse than others. White wheat flour for example is totally denatured and has lost all nutritional value except for vitamin or mineral fortification (the process of putting back in some synthetic additives in an attempt to provide some artificial nutrition). Wholegrain products are always better than their white counterparts. This applies to rice, couscous, pasta, dry biscuit choices, bread, cereals to name a few. Most purchased cakes/slices are full of white flour, dairy, artificial additives, colours and preservatives and refined cane sugar. If you make your own, you can certainly create options which are not only more wholesome, using a variety of more ancient, low gluten flours, but also use real fruits, free range eggs, healthier sweeteners like stevia or honey and can be nutritionally enhanced with the bonus of nuts, seeds and superfoods.
10-15 serves a day. They are low in fat, protein and sugar and full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes (when not cooked), alkalinity, fibre, antioxidants, water and phytonutrients.
The best grains are those that have no or very little gluten in them like rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, oats. There are many gluten free flours to choose from these days, such as coconut, tigernut, green banana, buckwheat, corn, but always try to choose a wholegrain version. In many recipes you can avoid using flour altogether and instead create very nutritious slices from adding crushed nuts, seeds, sprouts, nut milks, grated vegetables, coconut oil. Protein in grains can be hard on our digestive system and none more than wheat protein which has the highest amount of gluten in it. So initially, unless you are a celiac with a zero tolerance of gluten, it is easier to still consume rye, barley or spelt as an alternative to going completely gluten free if that makes it easier at first. Experiment with recipes without using wheat and gradually you become more experimental and open to new types of sweet and savoury home baked treats. Raw food diet recipe books are great for inspiration as they open your mind to completely new ideas in how to assemble ingredients together with fantastic, yummy results!
A variety of pulses are an important source of protein as well, with red kidney beans being one of the highest antioxidant rated vegetables. Red, brown, green lentils are quicker to cook than some of their beany friends and definitely offer a little more last minute convenience by not requiring pre-soaking. The best way to deal with pulses though is to have a cook up afternoon and freeze in small batches so whenever you want to incorporate into your meals, they only have to defrost to be used. This is better for you nutritionally than using canned beans, peas and lentils. Of course 'canned' is better than not having them at all, so the decision is yours. We must always make decisions right for ourselves and not become so stressed and purist that eating healthily becomes all too hard! I find little steps forward to making habit changes is the best rule of thumb. Maybe change one part of your diet until you are finding it easy, then think of something else you can change or add in.
Brazil, almonds, walnuts, pecan, macadamia, cashew, sunflower, sesame, flaxseed, hemp seed, pumpkin and apricot kernels are all wonderful choices. Peanuts, although very common and cheaper, are really not the best nut option, nor are pistachios. Traces of aflatoxin can be found on some sources of both these nuts and their by- products. This toxin is a carcinogenic fungus caused by various Aspergillus molds and is very dangerous to our health. Food Standards Australia undertake testing for this contaminant but admit that sometimes there will be some products, particularly imported, that may be contaminated. "Despite a range of risk management measures, aflatoxin contamination remains a global food safety concern that cannot be completely avoided." You can read more about this issue on the FSANZ Imported food risk statement for peanuts/pistachios and aflatoxins.
The best way to consume nuts is after they have been soaked in pure water for four hours. Why you may ask? Nuts have an enzyme inhibitor in them which is natures way to protect them from deterioration. Soaking enables our bodies to digest them more effectively.
Most people should consume between 1.75 lit.-3 litres per day. A 65 kg person can aim for 2 litres per day as an average figure. This does not include coffee or alcohol, as these drinks use more fluid in the digestion of them than they contribute to overall hydration. But you can include herb or green teas as part of the fluid intake.
You may have heard of sprouts but have you heard of microgreens? They are similar but also quite different. Microgreens are sprouted seed which is left to grow for 8-14 days before harvesting and has time to develop it's first cotyledon (juvenile) leaves. They are grown in fertile growing medium instead of just water. The plants which can be grown in this way are diverse, ranging from broccoli, rocket, snowpeas, through to sunflowers , barley and herbs. The nutrient density of microgreens are amazing, ranging anywhere from 4 - 40 times the nutrient level of their mature counterpart! Extremely rich in antioxidants, sulforaphane chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals, they should be considered an essential part of a natural preventative diet.
Juices also contribute beautifully to nutrient saturation in the body. The type of which being dictated by the choice of ingredients you add to your concoction! Diversity of flavour is unparalleled as the different combinations are endless. Nutritious and delicious and particularly easy medicine when your digestion is compromised, or when you don't feel like solid food. Juice is one of the best ways to flood the body with nutrients without causing the body excess overload of fiber to digest. This is a great way to bolster immune function and antioxidant activity in the body. My favourite combo is carrot, celery, beetroot, a couple of sprigs of parsely and toss in one red skinned apple for a touch of sweetness. Read more about the benefits of juice HERE.
Contain phytochemicals called Lignans which are estrogen modulators. Rich in Omega 3 fatty acid (alpha linolenic acid). Build up to consuming 2 tablespoons of freshly ground golden flaxesseds per day.
Rich in polyphenol compounds and Epigallocatechin 3-Gallate. These are highly stimulatory to immune system; inhibit inflammation; kill free radicals; cause cell apoptosis and are also anti-angiogenic.
Garlic promotes immune health by enhancing natural killer cell activity in the body. Allicin found within garlic breaks down into a number of organosulfur compounds, which exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer and cardioprotective abilities. 2-3 cloves of freshly chopped garlic per day is ideal, otherwise consider supplementing with an odorless, aged garlic extract in tablet form.
Found within a large group of fruits and vegetables, not just in carrots or orange fruit and vegies. They do create the colour but exist in foods that range from red, yellow, orange, green and purple as well. Carotenes play two essential roles. First they support our immune system by boosting T-helper cells, natural killer cells macrophage cells and help our body to produce it's own Interferon. Secondly, they provide anti-oxidant protection to free radical damage in the body. Some excellent vegetable sources are carrots, beetroots and tomatoes.
Green plants rich in this phyto-nutrient are powerful wound healers and blood builders...very helpful to overcome anaemia. Also very alkalising and helps the body to transport oxygen to its cells. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach are great sources. Cereal grasses are best source, either in juiced, powdered or tablet form.
Red skinned apples particularly, as within the peel exist compounds called triterpenoids which both inhibit and kill cancer cells. Apples are also very high in beneficial fibre which is a crucial factor if one wishes to prevent cancer as it helps to support healthy elimination habits, crucial to maintaining a toxin free internal environment.
These vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy and kale, have particularly potent compounds of indole, sulfur and isothiocyanate which are very supportive to liver enzyme function and detoxification pathways. They are extremely helpful in helping to eliminate excess hormones and carcinogens from the body.
Raspberries and strawberries have large amounts of polyphenol ellagic acid which is a potent anti-angiogenesis agent. This means that they help slow the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumor cells. Blueberries contain anthocyanidins- molecules which force unhealthy cells to commit suicide (apoptosis).
Contain polysaccharide compound called Lentinen which can increase T-cells, helper cells and NK cell levels, boosting immune response. They also stimulate the body's own ability to create its own Interferon and Interleukin which are your body's own personalised immunotherapy.
Active compounds are Isoflavones, specifically, Genistein which has shown to inhibit the growth of hormone-related cancer cells. Soybeans have weak sources of plant estrogens which can compete with and reduce effects of dangerous estrogens such as zenoestrogens from such sources as plastics and pesticides. They achieve this by crowding out receptor sites in breast tissue and prostrate tissue.
An especially overlooked food resource are weeds. Not only are they resilient and easy to grow or wild harvest, but they happen to be exceptionally nutritious as well. It serves us well to change our perspective on the usefulness of these hardy plants and perhaps even provide them with pride of place in the garden. I no longer pull sheep sorrel out of my garden beds as I understand how highly medicinal every part of the plant really is. It is one of the main ingredients in Essiac Tea which is a potent Native American Indian cancer fighting brew which you can find out more about by CLICKING HERE. But suffice to say I am now welcoming sheep sorrel to slowly take over my garden!
If you would like to read more about the value of weeds in considering them food medicine, CLICK HERE to read my article on the healing quality of weeds. I will be progressively sharing a new article for every weed which is worthwhile to consider as part of your edible arsenal for good health in the Wildbanksia blog...just click below to check out the recent articles.
Our bodies are built to move. We all know the saying "Use it or lose it!' The less we use our body, the more it will become sluggish and stiff. Stress also builds up in a static body more quickly than one that moves! It has nowhere to go, it just sits inside us steadily building up, tightening muscles and mind. The exception of course, is when you are purposely quietening the mind in meditation or mindfulness.
Physical exertion is one of the most natural ways to activate circulation, detoxification and to help disperse stress and tension which builds up during our day. Planning exercise into our daily routine is even more essential for those who work in sedentary jobs. Our lymph system, which is an important part of our bodies toxin removal, is not transported like blood is pumped by the heart. It is only activated by movement of muscle and tissue stimulation.
The form of exercise we choose really matters! It should be the type that we enjoy and will continue to do. Many of us have an unrealistic picture of what exercise should look like. Don't just go to the gym for instance if that is really not your thing, but some of us genuinely love to have another person to help keep us accountable and be supported by a personal trainer in a gym setting.
Personally, I love dancing, gardening and walking in nature as my preferred forms of exercise...none of them are particularly formal and to me don't even feel like exercise, which suits me fine! They help me to unwind and release mental tension as well as provide my body with healthy movement.
Did you know that going for a walk, jog or bike ride when you are faced with a dilemma or feeling anxious or angry, is the best way to disperse those negative emotions and hit your reset button? The oxygen you breathe into your lungs will help clear your mind and the endorphins which are released as a bi-product will help you to feel more relaxed, happier and energised.
Oxygen is also a very important aspect of disease prevention. Studies are now connecting low cellular oxygen levels as a precursor to enabling tumors to begin to grow. This is partly because tumors are more adaptable to low oxygen levels and begin producing energy by glycolysis which is an inefficient process converting glucose into energy and creates a more acidic environment which cancer also loves. The body sends more blood to the cell when it uses glycolysis but all this does is to enable the tumor to grow more quickly. The more it grows, the more hypoxic and acidic the cells become.
Here is an interesting article exploring this topic READ MORE.
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