THE POWER OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
The title of this article speaks for itself. It provides compelling evidence that (as I’ve said previously and will keep saying) ‘the medicine of the future will be the food we evolved eating in the past’.
The 6 major killers in the western worlds are all chronic, insidious onset, diseases – heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity related illnesses, diabetes and chronic respiratory illnesses. Modern medicine and engineering has been highly successful in dramatically reducing the percentage of deaths from the previous biggest killers (around 150 years ago) – infectious diseases and trauma. But it is losing the war against chronic illnesses. It’s methods mainly serve to palliate.
All of these chronic illnesses are preventable by lifestyle intervention. It is via fresh food and pure plant or organism extracted supplements that we can win this war against the big 6.
(The following is excerpted from Dr. Humbard ‘Smokey’ Santillo’s book ProMetabolics: Your Personal Guide to Transformational Health and Healing)
Fruits and vegetables are rich in many helpful antioxidants. Antioxidants stop the free radical chain reaction by accepting renegade electrons into their own structure and hiding them away, rendering them harmless. It is clearly best for your health to counter free radicals with antioxidants, to prevent excessive free radical damage from pushing the body into a degenerative state that can create a focus of disease. If this disease process were to happen, part of your therapy would be to add more antioxidants to your diet.
Among the many antioxidants supplied by fruits and vegetables are vitamin E and the carotenoid beta-carotene, which defend cell membranes from free radical damage. Vitamin C protects the body’s watery components. It seems especially adept at neutralizing free radicals from polluted air and cigarette smoke, and it can also restore oxidized vitamin E to its active state. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale contain lutein, another powerful antioxidant.
Many minerals are antioxidants as well. Iodine, for example, has been shown to be an antioxidant on par with or better than vitamins C and E; its incorporation into cell membranes helps prevent lipid peroxidation. (Smyth PP. Role of iodine in antioxidant defense in thyroid and breast disease. Biofactors 2003, 19:121-130; Tseng YL. Inhibition of lipid peroxidation. Lipids 1984, 19:96-102.) The mineral selenium is a component of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase, which protects red blood cells and cell membranes from free radicals, working in conjunction with vitamin E (or replacing it). Selenium-rich diets might reduce cancer risks.
We would all do well to follow the advice in Jean Carper’s book Stop Aging Now: “Eat all the various fruits and vegetables you can. Nowhere will you find the anti-aging properties you get in fruits and vegetables. They possess countless known and unknown agents that transform your cells into fortresses against the free radical forces of aging. Much of what we call aging is really a fruit and vegetable deficiency.” (Carper J. Stop Aging Now. Harper-Collins Publishers, New York, NY, 1996.)
Along those lines, a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association identified spinach as the food most apt to prevent cataracts in a group of elderly people. (Seddon J, et al. Dietary carotenoids, vitamins A, C, and E, and advanced age-related macular degeneration. JAMA 1994 272:1413.) Some reports suggest an inverse relationship between DNA damage and vegetable intake–that is, more vegetables, less damage. (Djuric Z, et al. Oxidative DNA damage levels in blood from women at high risk for breast cancer are associated with dietary intakes of meats, vegetables, and fruits. J Am Diet Assoc 1998 98:524-528.)
From an analysis of 4,500 scientific studies and papers on the relationship between cancer and diet, the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that 40 percent of cancer cases worldwide could be prevented if people ate a low-fat, plant-based diet of fruits and vegetables. (World Cancer Research Fund, American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, nutrition, and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. American Institute for Cancer Research, Washington DC, 1997.) Dr. Gladys Block, after reviewing 170 studies from different countries, stated similarly, “Eating fruits and vegetables regularly can slash your chances of getting cancer in half.” (Block G, et al. Fruit, vegetables, and cancer prevention: a review of the epidemiological evidence. Nutr Cancer 1992 18:1-29.)
Epidemiological studies have also shown that people with high intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables have lower rates of cancer. More specifically, vegetables in the cruciferous family-cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and others–have been shown to contain phytochemicals (compounds found specifically in plants) that speed the removal of harmful estrogen from the body when it’s fighting off breast cancer.
The research results in this area go on and on-and we have not yet even discovered all of the compounds in foods that can have anti-cancer and anti-aging effects. It seems too simple to be true, but when you realize that each fruit and vegetable contains hundreds or thousands of known and unknown phytochemicals, you can better understand the power of whole foods. It is always best to eat the whole food to get all of its synergistic phytochemicals and nutrients in nature’s normal, optimal balance.