Originally posted in the Naples Herald in my Life with Moxie Column
At Life with Moxie, we are constantly attending to the affect that our lifestyle has on our wellbeing. Food is key among them. There are three meals a day and occasionally snacks in between them that become the foundation of our health. Food, in conjunction with our social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, financial, intellectual and physical experiences, create what we refer to as our lifestyle. This combination of eight dimensions is what our health is created from.
Health is a term that gets thrown around with little consistency about what it means. The medical industry defines health as the state of being free from illness or injury. That, by definition, means the medical industry is in the business of illness and injury care, not health care. Not coincidentally, not being sick does not mean you are healthy. Being healthy is not being average. Health is not on a bell curve where as the majority are at risk of or have heart disease, making it average- or normal. It’s not normal, but it is tragically common, completely preventable and easily reversible, without medicine. Nor is it about a dress size or being so chiseled you can cut things. Being healthy, in the world of Life with Moxie, means you wake up feeling amazing, your skin is glowing, have purpose in your day, are excited to see your friends, have energy and interests and are looking forward to sharing them. That is what healthy feels like. If we can shift from focusing on what healthy looks like to what healthy feels like, then will we be in a position to really make a difference.
It is the “you” that you create from what you chose to put in you. What things did you put in? Thoughts (were they good or bad), food (was it good or bad), who did you spend your time with (did you feel good or bad with them). You are an investment piece! Until we begin to treat ourselves like our most valuable asset, our health won’t reflect it.
This truly healthy state, as you can imagine, is rare. It is not rare because no one can get there or because it is hard. It is rare because we have been taught our whole lives that medicine is the answer to everything that is not awesome with our bodies. Every stomachache, pimple, joint pain, disease, issue, disorder, being tired, feeling unmotivated, dull hair, you name it, there is a pill for that. There is also a list of side effects that you will be dealing with. Conveniently there are pills for those too. Of course this ignores the fact that roughly 110,000 patients die every year from these side effects, not over doses or accidents, just side-effects. Thomas Edison said “the doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but will rather cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” I dare say he never imagined it would take us so long to get here.
Fortunately, if you would rather get yourself to a place where you don’t experience these “issues” in the first place, there is an approach for that too and it doesn’t include medication. It is called lifestyle medicine, where the goal is prevention and the foundation is food. Actual, real, whole food, like strawberries. Think of it like this, every time you choose what to eat, you are either feeding a disease or fighting one and “lifestyle interventions are often more effective in reducing heart disease, hypertension, heart failure, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and deaths from all causes than almost any medical intervention” said Dr. Greger of nutritionfacts.org. Next to this list of ailments is the parallel list that reflects the most commonly prescribed medicines in the U.S. and, if you’ve noticed, all the big names now have commercials. None of this is in your best interest, because the end result isn’t health, its disease maintenance with you as the customer that still has the disease.
Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
So let’s start with what we know from a few of my favorite sources. Dr. Michael Greger of Nutritionfacts.org spends his day reviewing the clinical research that is emerging daily on the matter. He was our guest on Life with Moxie Radio back in May (you can listen here: http://www.lifewithmoxie.com/#!may-14th-show/pw9a8). Here are just a few of his findings. Eating the equivalent of 1 lb of strawberries a day for 6 months was found to reverse esophageal cancer in 80% of those studied. Considering that esophageal cancer has only a 13% survival rate, we may want to start thinking of actual food as an alternative. What about liver cancer? With “high peach concentrations, cancer cell proliferation drops about 10%, but bananas and grapefruits work about 4 times better, dropping cancer growth rates by about 40%. Red grapes, strawberries and apples do even better, cutting cancer cell growth up to half at only half the dose, but these two fruits are the winners, causing a dramatic drop in cancer proliferation at just tiny doses, lemons and cranberries.”
What about vegetables? Dr. Greger found that there is “one vegetable that completely 100% stopped cancer growth in seven out of the eight tumor lines. One of the most important findings of the year.” So which one is it? Garlic. Let me state that again, clinical research showed garlic 100% stopped cancer growth in seven out of the eight tumor lines. Shouldn’t your doctor be mentioning this? All the fruits and vegetables studied discriminately went after cancer cells leaving healthy cells to do their work. Maybe- just maybe, if we start eating better we won’t be getting cancer in the first place.
Some lighter bits of health trivia, again, all evidence-based and shared by Dr. Greger. Eating just a cup of oatmeal’s worth of fiber a day appears to extend a woman’s life as much as 4 hours of jogging a week. You also appear to get 4 hours of weekly jogging benefit eating just two handfuls of nuts a week. Have depression? Eating a plant-based diet (primarily vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, and soy) worked to dramatically improve mood in just two weeks, where as it took months for Prozac to have an affect. I highly recommend his website www.nutritionfacts.org as well as his NYT best selling book How Not To Die.
Another favorite of mine is Dr. William Li. Here, in an extraordinarily enlightening TED Talk, he discusses a laundry list of cancer-fighting foods that cut off the supply lines to tumors and beat cancer at its own game by inhibiting the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors, a process known as anti-angiogenesis.
(Watch it here https://www.ted.com/talks/william_li?language=en). The list of foods that dramatically slowed or stopped the growth of blood vessels to tumors include: Green Tea
Strawberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Red Wine, Soy, Raspberries, Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Apples, Red Grapes, Bok Choy, Kale, Ginseng, Maitake Mushroom, Licorice, Turmeric, Nutmeg, Artichokes, Lavender, Pumpkin, Parsley, Garlic, Tomato, Olive Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Dark Chocolate, Cherries, Pineapples.
I share this information because, as ground-breaking as it may be, it is in no industries benefit to promote it. Additionally, most doctors aren’t even aware of it because most doctors don’t study nutrition, ever, even in medical school. But it is in your best interest. As a life-time nutrition researcher, a doctoral student finishing my dissertation in Public Health and a vegan for 28 years, I’ve been repeatedly shocked at the level of disservice being provided to the public when the research is available. If you are interested in aiming your diet toward prevention with an evidence-based foundation, email me at Julie@lifewithmoxie.com. In the meantime, head to your local farmers market, your new “farmacy,” grab some organic strawberries and plan your next meal around the foods listed above, it will be gorgeous and your body will thank you. Happy Eating!
Have ideas you’d like to add to the list? Need more suggestions? Let me know!
Julie Koester is CEO of Life with Moxie, a Lifestyle Revolution Company www.lifewithmoxie.com and Host of Life with Moxie Radio, Saturday’s at 1pm on 98.9 WGUF in Southwest Florida. You can reach her at Julie@lifewithmoxie.com
Passionate Living by Design, That’s Life with Moxie