When first diagnosed with cancer, many people get guilty about their diet and lifestyle and proceed to change it drastically thinking it will help the course of their disease. The holidays are certainly a time we get tempted to overindulge in unhealthy foods. I was raised by depression era parents and so I grew up eating straight from the garden. I have come to find through the scientific literature that I may not be so far off on what constitutes a healthy diet. Eating locally raised produce, by supporting your local farmer or growing it yourself, provides high quality nutrients with less pesticides and herbicides. The difference in taste is also amazing. Shipping from the growing centers of California and other faraway lands (South and Central America) takes a toll on the quality of produce. So eat as local as you can get! Eat fresh or frozen vegetables, never canned, as canning depletes the vitamins and minerals from the produce.
Avoid red meat (and pork is not the other white meat,). We are more omnivore than carnivore and it is well proven that vegetarians live longer. Buy dairy products that are free of antibiotics and hormones. Dairy products, especially low fat ones, can be high in protein too. Eggs are an excellent protein source and a few chickens in the backyard can be a fun way to get them fresh! Our farming practices are great cause for concern. Corporate farming has led to crowded, unhealthy conditions for poultry and cattle alike. Domestic animals raised for your table consume more antibiotics than the human population! This has resulted in human resistance to antibiotics when they are sick. Little has been done to prevent the overuse of antibiotics by famers until a recent FDA ruling that forces farmers to phase out using antibiotics to fatten their livestock by 2017. Livestock growers will have to have a veterinary prescription for antibiotic use instead of getting them over the counter at the feed store.
Alcohol has a strong tradition in our lifestyle. Studies showing as little as one glass a day of wine can increase the likelihood of breast cancer in women. Alcohol is a drug that can cause depression and anxiety too. Moderation is the key of course and there are plenty of studies showing some heart healthy attributes. It is also a fattening way to get a lot of empty calories.
And finally, you can save a lot of money if you don’t buy a lot of additional nutrients in pill form. “Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided,” according a study just released by the Annals of Internal Medicine. A supplement of Vitamin D is proven in scientific studies to be beneficial to the immune system. There is a huge cottage industry built around supplements that are not proven to be promising in warding off disease and Americans paid over 28 billion dollars on them last year.
But don’t let me ruin your plans to eat cookies, roast beef and toast the New Year. Enjoy in moderation and don’t forget one of the best things you can do to boost your immune system, is to get some exercise. Turn off the TV and go for a walk! Exercise is good for the heart, body and soul!