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Winning the War Against Disease and Premature Ageing

In many ways, if we wish to discover the path to health and wellness, we need to turn our eyes to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The latter may have had shorter lifespans owing to long periods without food and attacks by vicious predators, but their bodies were free of some of the most common degenerative diseases faced by modern man, including osteoporosis and tooth decay. Interestingly, our Stone Age ancestors consumed far more than the current recommended levels of quality protein, essential fatty acids and fruits and vegetables.Premature AgeingHealth expert, Leslie Kenton (author of the best-selling book The Skin Revolution), notes that “early man… ate more than 200 different kinds of plants regularly. Today, we are lucky if we get eight or 20. Eating a wide variety of non-starchy vegetables and herbs provides the human body with nutritional diversity.” Additionally, if we lead stressful lives and are unable to source all the vitamins and minerals we need from food sources, then supplementation is key. These are just some ways we can feed our bodies with the nutrients we need to give our body a fighting chance against osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease and fatigue:

  • Consume Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Antioxidants – the substances and compounds present in abundance in fruits and vegetables – strengthen the body against free radicals, which damage the cells through a process called oxidation. The latter is a contributing factor of a plethora of diseases, including cancer, infections and heart disease.
  • Antioxidants for the body and mind: Some of the most important antioxidants are found in Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Additional antioxidant superfoods are lycopene (found in tomatoes), selenium (sourced from tuna, beef and Brazil nuts) and zinc (found in dairy products, beans, seafood, red meat, etc.). Recent studies indicate that the lycopene in just four tomatoes can lower one’s risk of contracting kidney cancer, while zinc is used to treat and prevent everything from malnutrition in children, to diabetes, high blood pressure and a variety of ski conditions. Antioxidants also play an important role in boosting mental health; so much so that most top rehabilitation centers treating patients recovering from substance abuse and alcohol addiction issues emphasize the importance of a diet which is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. This is because drug and alcohol abuse can cause a deficiency of important micronutrients like selenium, which play an important role in brain function. Low levels of selenium are linked to everything from depression to anxiety and cognitive impairment, conditions which may increase the difficulty of sticking to a rehabilitation programme. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of alcohol and selenium deficiency, so parents should provide selenium-rich diets to their adolescent children.
  • Ensure your mineral consumption is adequate: Minerals are required by the body to carry out a host of important functions, including building bones, producing energy and strengthening the immune system. However, our diets are often inadequate in essential minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium. If your diet is not as varied as it should be, essential mineral supplements may be indicated.
  • Consume Healthy Fats: Doctors and nutritionists alike are unanimously hailing the benefits of the Subterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables and essential fatty acids (essential fats which the body cannot produce and which need to be sourced from nutrition or fish oil supplements). The problem with most modern diets in the Western world is the excessive consumption of Omega-6 fats (found in sunflower oil, margarine and most commercial salad dressings) and the scarce consumption of Omega-3 fats (found in fatty fish, flaxseed and walnuts) The ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats is 2:1 but the ratio comes closer to 22:1 ratio. Omega-3 fatty acids have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are vital for everything from cardiovascular health to beautiful skin. When preparing meals, stick to healthy oils like cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil (which can help lower cholesterol) and Udo’s oil, a careful blend of Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils.
  • Go Raw: Try to introduce a greater amount of raw plant-based foods in your diet, since they are rich in phytochemicals – tiny antioxidants that keep a host of illnesses at bay, including heart disease and cancer. Many phytochemicals also protect the skin against the ravages of the sun.
  • Introduce Sprouts into your Diet: Dormant and cooked chickpeas, mung beans, buckwheat, adzuki beans and lentils are difficult for the body to digest, because they contain enzyme inhibitors. Sprouting seeds and beans neutralizes these inhibitors and causes their vitamin content to skyrocket. To reduce costs, make your own sprouts at home for a tastier, more practical alternative.

1 J Gómez, S. MF Mendonça de Souza, Prehistoric Tuberculosis in America: Adding Comments to a Literature Review, Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz, 2003, 98: 151-159.2 Kenton, L, Want More Energy, More Health and a More Beautiful Body?, accessed June, 2014.3 CD Davis, JT Swyer, The ‘sunshine vitamin’: benefits beyond bone?, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2007, 99: 1563-1565.4 JM Lappe JM ,, Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007, 85 : 1566 – 1591 .5 CD Davis et. al., Vitamin D and cancer: current dilemmas and future needs, Nutrition Reviews, 2007, 65: S71 – 4 .6 KW Dodd et. al., Statistical methods for estimating usual intake of nutrients and foods: a review of the theory, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2006, 106 : 1640 – 1650 .7 Cleveland Clinic, Antioxidants, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, and cardiovascular disease, accessed June, 2014.8 Drugtreatment, How long does recovery take?, accessed June, 2014.9 PM Guenther, et. al., Most Americans eat much less than recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2006, 106: 1371-1379.

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