Only a small percentage of people have bad luck when it comes to their health. There are only approx 5% of people who have a genetic disposition to develop diseases from their inherited genes. For the rest of us, the luck is created by what you eat and what chemicals you expose yourself to. Period!
I often hear “oh well, it runs in my family so there is little I can do about it”. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with their poor nutritional choices, lack of exercise and the skin creams and lotions they plaster all over their bodies? Nope, we will just sweep all of this under the carpet and pass the responsibility on to someone else.
We have known for the last 20 years of the ability that plant based diets can have in preventing and reversing many of today’s leading diseases. The issue is the lack of education. Lots of studies have demonstrated how widespread this problem is. For example, this study by the American Institute demonstrated that less than 50% of people were aware that you can dramatically reduce your chances of ever developing cancer simply by eating a largely plant based diet. And the same lack of education/knowledge can been seen with the links between red meats and colorectal cancers. The evidence is beyond question, yet still less than 35% of those surveyed were aware of the associated risks between eating hot dogs and bacon and developing cancer.
All the time the media, healthcare organisations and governments fail to provide clear information people will continue to die unnecessarily. Heart disease can be prevented and reversed with dietary changes. Dr Dean Ornish has shown this for decades. Cancers can be prevented and in some cases reversed with plant based diets. Similar pictures can be painted with strokes, dementia, diabetes etc etc. The information maybe muddied at times by poor decisions from the media and governments, but the science is very clear.
Here are just a few of the leading studies that have been produced in the last 6 months that demonstrate how powerful diets can be for preventing and reversing disease:
Are these studies just good luck? Is it luck that populations such as Japan who primarily eat plant based diets and have dramatically lower disease rates? Is it luck that more and more people are reversing serious illnesses with dietary changes? The answer is an overwhelming no. For the vast majority of people there is no such thing as bad luck and poor health. There are only poor uneducated decisions. Luckily, by educating and empowering yourself you can take ownership and responsibility of your health and influence your own destiny. It’s as simple as loading your plate with nuts, beans, seeds, vegetables, fruits and legumes!
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As more and more of us are becoming sicker and fatter than ever before, the NHS and other healthcare systems throughout the world are starting to buckle under the immense pressure. Many of these diseases (diabetes, heart disease, strokes and certain cancers etc, etc) that are crippling our economies and healthcare systems are both preventable and in many cases reversible. Yet we continue with the ethos of “a pill for every ill”. This approach is unsustainable and will result in healthcare systems that are no longer free at the point of entry.
It is slightly encouraging though that even in the NHS there are now rumblings of the word “prevention” rather than cure. While it has taken a recession to bring about a glimpse of change, there is still a long way to go. And frustratingly, in many corners of the NHS, prevention still means the use of medicine and drugs.
Every year doctors are writing well over a billion prescriptions in the UK (that’s over 2,100 every 60 seconds). And many of these prescriptions are labelled as preventative medicines such as statins. Statins dwarf all other prescriptions and since coming onto the market Lipitor has generated eye watering profits of well over £870 billion. Yet study after study have proved that these medicines offer little benefit unless you already have advanced heart disease. Yet we continue to push these pills to people who only have a small risk of developing heart disease rather than advising people to remove or reduce animal products from their diets (cholesterol only comes from meat, dairy and eggs). It’s a similar story where preventative cancer medicines are used. Herceptin is used as a preventative breast cancer medicine, yet again, studies have shown that the drug is largely ineffective at preventing breast cancer, unless you are unfortunate enough to carry the Her2 gene. This haphazard approach has seen profits skyrocket and the drug is in the top fifteen profitable drugs in the world. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (block Oestrogen production in the body) are also routinely prescribed as preventative medicines with little evidence that they actually reduce breast cancer rates.
Again, why not advise women to avoid meat, eggs and dairy (the reason why women have high Oestrogen levels)? By reducing animal proteins, you also reduce the growth hormone IGF-1 in your diet (a known risk factor for causing breast cancer cells to grow very fast). Women who adopt this approach in countries like Japan have 50 times fewer breast cancer incidences.
Similar illogical thought processes can also be seen with Alzheimer’s. One of the biggest risk factors for developing the disease is long term elevated blood pressure. But instead of investing money into campaigns to educate people to reduce their blood pressure through dietary and lifestyle modifications, the money has been invested in preventative drugs like calcium channel blockers. So again, instead of treating the underlying cause, we are just masking the symptoms with drugs.
In my eyes, a health care system should always look to fix the underlying cause of a disease. If it’s not doing this then it will always fail and costs will spiral out of control. Diseases are not a deficiency of medicines, they are a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. Ironically, the “preventative” drugs that doctors are prescribing are actually robbing the body further of vitamins and minerals and compounding the issue. This is a scary precedent we are setting for ourselves. We are beginning to proceed with medical systems where normal fit and healthy people will be prescribed with numerous daily pills to prevent diseases. Yet, free, safe and far more effective dietary changes are being ignored, mainly because the whole system is conducive to profit over real health. And if the media continues to produce misinformed news on the subject, confusion will continue to engulf the public and the pharmaceutical industry will continue to become ever more profitable. But at what cost?
Anyone with half a brain cell knows that true prevention is better than any cure a pharmaceutical company can produce. Yet we continue with investing vast sums in drug research rather than investing some of this money into true preventative research and its associated educative public campaigns. All the time this continues we will continue to destroy our current healthcare models and eventually yours and my families will no longer be afforded with free healthcare at the point of entry.
Dr Michael Greger talks about this very subject in one of his must watch videos
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In the above leading study, the researchers looked at a number of different spices. They analysed their ability to prevent DNA damage through a reduction of free radicals as well as looking at how the spices were able to reduce inflammation throughout the body. The results were unbelievable.
If you were able to pull an average person from the street, who consumed a standard western diet, and took a sample of his or hers tissue you would generally find that approx. 7% of their DNA would display damage. Add in poor nutrition and its associated free radicals and this persons DNA damage will increase to approximately 10% (not good!).
What the study showed was that when someone consumed ginger for just one week this 10% DNA damage would reduce to roughly 7.5%. But the ultimate spice they analysed appeared to be turmeric. For those who consumed turmeric they were able to cut their DNA damage down to approx. 5% (a 50% reduction – after just 1 week). And why is this study so conclusive? Well, it wasn’t a random study that added spices to cells in petri dishes. Oh no, this study actually compared the differences between the cells of regular spice eaters with the cells of those who never ate spices. This enabled the researchers to sit back and measure the actual amount of DNA damage of both test groups.
The study also showed that not only was turmeric a far superior spice, but the health benefits could also be derived from much smaller amounts. Look at the below table. The DNA protection from turmeric can be derived from the equivalent 0.3 grams a day. It demonstrates how unbelievably powerful the stuff is in the body.
But why is this? Well one of the most powerful compounds within turmeric is curcumin. Not only is curcumin a powerful antioxidant but it also triggers the production of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes (catalase being one of the major ones). And why is this so important? Well each one of these enzymes has an unbelievable capacity to neutralise millions of free radicals every second. And you can increase the quantities of these enzymes by up to 80% just by eating the equivalent of three quarters of a teaspoon of turmeric a day.
But what is the best way to consume turmeric? Can you simply add some to your smoothie? Well, you can, but you won’t get the optimal health benefits from raw turmeric. In fact, the study showed that raw turmeric only had minimal impacts on DNA protection in the body. The opposite was however found for its anti-inflammatory benefits in the body. So my advice is to consume both cooked and raw turmeric to receive maximum health benefits.
It’s surprising how many people actually skip breakfast every morning. Not such a great idea if you want to be energised for the day ahead. A good healthy breakfast in the morning will provide essential fuel for the body and also a host of essential nutrients.
Below are some of my top tips for super-charging your breakfast.
Fats, Fats, Fats
By adding some healthy fats to your breakfast you will be getting some essential fatty acids, inflammatory busting compounds and also some great antioxidants. Healthy fats also contain twice as many calories as carbohydrates and proteins, so you will have more energy and also a feeling of being fuller for longer.
Recommendations: Avocados, nuts (including nut butters) and seeds are all great choices.
Protein, Protein, Protein
Protein has some very similar characteristics to fats in that it acts as a slow release energy source. Protein contains amino acids (the building blocks of life) and are essential for body repair and growth – and just about every other function in the body.
Recommendations: Porridge and nut milks have moderate amounts of protein but if you really want a healthy protein boost in the morning then look no further than: nut butters, hemp seeds, spirulina, goji berries and protein powders such hemp and pea.
Fibre, Fibre, Fibre
You should aim for a minimum of 35 grams of fibre a day as this will help maintain a healthy gut flora as well as help with weight management and preventing various digestive cancers. Consuming a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibre will also ensure that your bowels work more efficiently as well as eliminating unwanted toxins from the intestines.
Recommendations: If you are having a morning smoothie then add some greens (kale, spinach etc) or mixed berries to your drink. Avocados will also give your smoothie a great texture as well as providing good amounts of fibre. If you’re more of a cereal person in the morning then opt for high fibre cereals, such as oats, or even quinoa or buckwheat. Avoid cereals that are processed in any way as they will usually be loaded with sugars and additives.
Carbs, Carbs, Carbs
If you choose high glycaemic carbohydrates then sugars will be quickly released and you may find yourself lacking energy and also feel very hungry by 11 in the morning. What you eat carbohydrates with, will also determine how quickly sugars are released. By adding healthy fats, proteins and fibre to healthy carbohydrates you will help slow down the transit times of foods through the intestines as well as preventing those unwanted sugar spikes.
Recommendations: Its common sense really, but avoid processed, refined or added sugars. Where possible opt for oats, quinoa, legumes, lentils (don’t be afraid of savoury for breakfast).
It Should Be Nutrients, Nutrients, Nutrients – Not Calories, Calories, Calories
Stop calorie counting and simply eat healthily. You need healthy calories for energy and vitality. If you gain your calories from “low calorie” sources then you are likely removing vital energy from your diet and replacing it with artificial ingredients that could potentially have detrimental effects on your health. It’s a simple rule to follow: Eat food in its most natural state and as a consequence your weight and health will improve. Don’t count calories!
Recommendations: Make sure you are getting lots of healthy whole foods: fruits, vegetables, oats, nut milks, and basically anything that has been processed!
Avoid Those Sugars!
I will tell you now that it is impossible to buy supermarket and commercial breakfast cereals that aren’t full of refined sugars (dextrose, cane sugars etc, etc). Therefore, the only way you are going to start the day in the healthiest manner is to consume slow releasing carbs such as oats, fruits and vegetables. It has been shown in lots of studies that if you consume refined sugars for breakfast you will be far more likely to crave sweet treats throughout the day. This is a perpetual cycle of sugar and crash that you want to avoid.
Recommendations: Again, common sense, but ensure that the only sugars present in your breakfast are those from natural sources. If you “must have” some additional sweetness then maybe use small amounts of raw honey or maple syrup, but don’t go overboard as they will cause large spikes in your blood sugar levels if you are not careful.
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
I bet you will be eating the same foods every morning for breakfast. Correct? It is easy to get caught up in that routine cycle. But, as they say, “variety is the spice of life”. By having different breakfast ingredients each week you will prevent the boredom setting in and also potentially avoiding food allergies (often caused by eating the same foods constantly).
Recommendations: Flip it up! If you generally struggle for time in the mornings then try making up breakfast meals for the week at the weekend.
We all love an indulgent treat now and again, especially chocolate milk. The problem with most shop bought chocolate milks is that they usually contain lots of blood spiking sugars and ironically fake and refined chocolates (if you can call them that!). My Goji Man chocolate milk drink is packed with nutrients and health benefits, so no need to feel guilty for this indulgence!
• 10-15 organic cacao beans (depending on how chocolatey you like it) • 10 organic cashew nuts • 3 cups of spring water • ½ cup of ice • 1 large tbsp of organic maca powder • 1-2 tbsp organic honey • 1 tbsp of organic hempseed oil • 1 tbsp of coconut oil • 1 tbsp of cinnamon
In 2011 a leading study was published that looked at potassium intake and the resultant frequencies of strokes and heart disease. The study was published in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology and analysed 11 leading studies on potassium intake from the last 20 years.
What the study revealed was quite startling. Those who consumed 1600mg more potassium a day reduced their risk of suffering a stroke by 21%. Although this is great, the 1600mg a day is still substantially lower than the 3500mg daily requirement advocated by many health authorities around the world. But the good news in these findings is that it supports the need for us all to ensure we are consuming lots of potassium rich fruits and vegetables.
According to the study, those who were able to hit their 5 a day for fruits and vegetables had 25% lower incidences of strokes compared to those who only consumed 3 of their 5 a day. And before scrambling for those bananas, just remember that bananas are not even in the top 50 foods containing potassium. Bananas actually sit at number 86 from the list of all know potassium rich foods.