Food Determines Health

PrintMore than 30 years ago, I found a lump in my breast and went to my ob/gyn. She sent me to a surgeon who aspirated and ordered mammography every few months. More lumps occurred. Then a friend recommended I see a top cancer specialist, but what he did surprised me. Instead of more needles or tests, he examined me and interviewed me extensively. Then he handed me a long list of foods to avoid. I felt a bit put out because he was asking me to change my lifestyle.

But I tried it his way and was amazed. Not only did the lumps disappear, they stopped recurring. Before I knew it, I had weaned myself off read meat and had cut back on fried foods and baked goods.

Fast-forward to this year. I’ve slowly added more and more healthy choices and I watch out for eating too much junk food. But when I learned that several women close to me had been diagnosed with cancer, I found myself exploring the link between food and health further. Because they had been directed to change their eating patterns, and I wanted to learn all I could about this connection.

I read Dr. Andrew Weil’s book, Healthy Aging and was intrigued by his anti-inflammatory diet.

I listened to parts of the 2016 Food Revolution Summit, a 9-day podcast put on by John Robbins, author of Healthy at 100. There were interviews with people such as Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Neal Bernard, Chris Wark, and Dean Ornish. They talked about foods that heal, discussed using nutrition to fight cancer, and related that 90% of cancer cases are linked to lifestyle and environmental factors.

And I visited the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, where I got confirmation about the addictive nature of sugar and the benefits of eating organic raw foods.

Just this morning I read the new issue of Vitality from the USC Davis School of Gerontology. The school’s dean, Pincas Cohen, M.D., explained how dietary factors interact with our genes and explained that “someone with a high genetic risk of diabetes should probably adopt a low-carb diet, while a person with high risk for coronary disease will benefit from a Mediterranean diet.” He went on to note that “an individual with a genetic makeup that predisposes for cancer may reduce their risk of contracting it by eating a low-protein diet.”

Researchers at the university promote a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and point out that the typical American diet, high in fat and high in sugar, contributes to obesity…and later in life, to Alzheimer’s. Eating less protein and reducing calorie intake five days each month can help decrease the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Changing our eating habits is a challenge. Everywhere you look, poor food choices are promoted, made convenient, and offered at low prices. Sometimes it’s hard to resist the temptation all around.

But over the years, I keep moving toward that goal. Armed with new information about the way food impacts health, and knowing that people close to me are fighting for their lives, I am motivated to continue to make better choices. Here’s to greater health and life!

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