Let’s Fight Disease With Nature’s Food

Our nation’s leading killer diseases are largely lifestyle-related and can therefore be prevented or delayed. But, unfortunately, vaccines or cured pills and procedures do not stop or control conditions. Instead, they are primarily an extension of our health-damaging behaviors-our use of tobacco, lack of exercise, and our rich diet. -US Department of Health & Human Services.

I am not a scientist or a medical professional. Neither am a certified Nutritionist or Dietician. I am an individual, a relatively simple one with a passion for healthy living, family, and faith. These passions drive me to seek information that can be beneficial towards creating a healthier you and me, and when I find something that is of value, I share it as well. Now let us go ahead with today’s post.

So this topic is quite an extensive one; therefore, we will have a few in series. You can look forward to this every third Thursday each month. Today’s specific focus will be on foods that offer optimal health. So come on, get ready, and let’s fight diseases with Nature’s Foods.

It is safe to say that too many of us are digging an early grave for ourselves with our teeth and uncontrolled appetite. It is high time that we regain control of our unhealthful indulgences to live a disease-free life, not just for us but also for our family and friends. For most of us, change is never easy, and it is tough to give up something quickly that has been a part of us for years. After all, it is all that we know; it is our culture, who we are, and what separates us from others. Besides, our fore-parents have been doing these very things for years so why should we give up our tradition?

I can relate because there are things within my culture that I valued and which were dear to my heart. I struggled to be the agent of change even though I needed to do so. I wanted a family history that reflects excellent health, long life. A life free from diseases and sicknesses. I wish not to get rid of our unique practices and customs but improve on what was left for us by those before us, and you know what, I believe that it is a beautiful thing to do. Our ancestors would undoubtedly be proud to learn that we have decided to do something that would change the lives of our future generation positively and healthfully.

When I realized just how much I struggled to give up unhealthy indulgencies even after being on this journey for a few years, I still struggle with a few things; I knew that I have to do this while my children are young so that they will be better able to make healthful choices. Lord knows that trying to change deeply rooted bad habits and behavior is a real struggle. Consequently, I stepped boldly into a lifestyle, a lifelong journey that I did not know much about but was excited and confident that our lives and health would improve. I was determined to end as many lifestyle diseases as possible. It was time.

I am imploring all of you to embark upon this empowering and essential journey of change and let us reform the course of our lives and generation together.

Before fast and processed foods, there was a diet that people who lived many moons before we followed. We will refer to this as the “original diet,” which comprised of fruits, nuts, seeds and grains, and vegetables (herbs). Interestingly enough, humans lived for a very long time in excellent health during this time. As society evolved, so did our diet and lifestyle in general. Sadly we began to move towards a more accessible and more convenient way of living which came with significant consequences. One of these consequences was the devastating effect that this new lifestyle had on our health. Life expectancy decreased significantly, we became sicker, and numerous diseases came into being. Today more people are suffering and dying at a very young age from lifestyle-related diseases than they did years before. For some strange reason, though, many of us are baffled as to why we are so sick, but if we should take the time to look back and the past and see how much we have stepped away from the original diet, then it would become apparent to us we have been doing ourselves a grave wrong when it comes to our “rich diets.”

At this point, I want to direct your attention towards foods we can eat to achieve optimal health. These include:

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

If we were to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to our diet, our nutrition and health status would improve significantly. Fruits and vegetables contain lots of nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Unfortunately, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 10 adults get enough fruits or vegetables. This number is even fewer in men, young adults, and people with lower incomes.

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of many illnesses and diseases such as type 2 diabetes, some cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. But, unfortunately, only a few adults eat enough fruits and vegetables despite the positive health benefits.

There are many types of fruits and vegetables. Therefore we are to eat them in variety because they all have tremendous benefits to the body. For example, dark orange citrus fruits can reduce the risk of disease. Dark green leafy and deep yellow and orange vegetables also help in disease prevention. Therefore, one-half of our plate must consist of fruits and vegetables. We need about 6-9 servings of vegetables daily and 3-4 servings of fruits daily.

Vegetables: 6-9 servings per day

1 serving = 1 cup leafy vegetables

1/2 cup fresh chopped vegetables

1/2 cup cooked vegetables

Fruits – 3-4 servings per day

1 serving = 1 medium sized fruit

1 cup berries

1 cup chopped fruits

3/4 cup natural fruit juice

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts are very high in protein and fat (unsaturated); this helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Most people often wonder where vegans get their protein. Well, now you know one source, nuts. They are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to heart health. They contain fibers that help to keep you full and satisfied, thus preventing overeating. Nuts also contain vitamin E, which helps to keep the arteries healthy. If consumed in moderate amount, you will reap the following benefits:

Normal triglycerides

reduced inflammation

decrease risk of cardiovascular disease

lower the risk of getting obese

Our body requires two servings of nuts and seeds daily. One serving = 1-ounce nuts and seeds or two tablespoons of nut butter or 1/4 cup nuts.

Whole Grains

There are tons of grains available for us to eat, but they are not all equal. The best grains, of course, are those that are in their natural, unprocessed state. They are a good source of B vitamins (folate, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin), dietary fiber, and minerals (magnesium, iron, selenium). B vitamin helps with metabolism and are suitable for a healthy nervous system. Iron also helps to prevent anemia, and magnesium builds bones. The dietary fiber help to lower cholesterol, prevent type 2 diabetes, lowers bad cholesterol and obesity. Fibers also help to facilitate a proper bowel movement.

We need 5-12 servings of whole grains per day. Therefore, one serving: 1/2 cup cooked grains, rice or pasta or one slice bread or 1/2 bagel.

Legumes include a variety of beans such as black beans, pinto beans, soybeans, red beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, to name a few. Beans are high in protein, low in fat, and a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, they help to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, reduce obesity and stabilize blood sugar. However, some people experience flatulence when they consume legumes. Soaking them in water for 12-24 hours will prevent this from happening.

The required serving is 3 per day. One serving equals 1/2 cup cooked beans, peas lentils or 1/2 cup tofu, or 1 cup soy beverage 

Healthy Fats

Many of us tend to cringe whenever we hear the word fats, but fats are not all bad, for they are needed in small quantities to supply our body with energy. Some healthy fats include avocado, nuts, and seeds. Cold-pressed oils such as olive oil are best as fewer vitamins are lost during processing and refining. In addition, healthy fats help to promote heart health, healthy liver function, prevent constipation, and control cholesterol.

Serving per day is 1-2, one tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 avocado, or 23 olives.

Healthy Sweets

The best and healthiest sweets are fruits because they are high in natural sugars. Moderation is to be exercised even in this regard, but they will not stress the body much if eaten in the natural state. The fiber in the fruit will help to slow down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. Occasional indulgence in simple desserts made from whole grains, dried or fresh fruits, nuts, and seeds will not compromise your health. Avoid refined sugars as much as possible; this is an enemy of the body and a threat to health.

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