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Food as Medicine

by Beth on September 11th, 2022

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore

Dr. William Li is a physician who studies the causes of disease. In his 2010 TED Talk, he discussed his research looking at how to prevent cancer from growing by preventing blood vessels from feeding cancers. His realization that diet accounts for 30 to 35% of all environmentally caused cancers led him to explore the link between food and disease. Instead of just focusing on what foods we should avoid, Dr. Li also looked at what foods we should add to our diet to boost our health defenses. He shares the findings of his research in his book, Eat to Beat Disease.

Some key lessons from his book include:

  • Top foods that prevent cancer by blocking the blood flow that feeds it are soy and broccoli.
  • Mushrooms and olive oil strengthen your immune system.
  • Foods that support your microbiome include fruit, cheese, and fermented foods. Pomegranates and cranberries are especially powerful.
  • Nuts and berries are longevity superfoods that protect your DNA.
  • Cocoa boosts stem cell growth which helps your body repair and regenerate itself.

Dr. Li has a great way of explaining things. He compares normal inflammation to a campfire that keeps us warm at night and that we extinguish when we go to bed. Chronic inflammation is like the campfire getting out of control and setting the woods on fire. It has been linked to most major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s.

On the Healthier Together podcast, host Liz Moody asked Dr. Li to suggest one food to add to your diet and one to remove to prevent specific diseases. Here’s what he said:

  • Diabetes – add dietary fibers like nuts, avoid added sugars like cakes and cookies
  • Dementia – add coffee, avoid ultra-processed foods
  • Chronic inflammation – add foods with vitamin C like strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli, avoid added sugars (fruit is OK!)
  • Longevity – add coffee, avoid ultra-processed foods
  • Cancer – add green tea, avoid processed meats (classified as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization)

For details regarding why Dr. Li suggests these foods, listen to the last half of the podcast. And here he explains how a healthy microbiome helps your immune system defend your body against cancer.

Your daily lifestyle choices impact your health. This is especially true of the foods you eat. The good news is that you don’t need to know which foods prevent which disease. All you need to do is eat a wide variety of whole plant-based foods. Eat like your life depends on it . . . because it does!

From → Health, Well-being

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