Thursday, June 16, 2011

8 Benefits of a Healthy Diet

I took a break from recipe creation because I believe it is important to understand WHY we eat this way and why it is important to embrace a healthy diet and lifestyle.  I hope you enjoy the information.

I am commonly asked about the benefits of a healthy diet.  Many people feel confused about what a healthy diet should look like, what foods offer the greatest protection against disease and what foods to avoid.  There is a lot of confusion in the area of nutrition, especially due to severe conflicts of interest in government agencies, funding of scientific research etc....

The Truth is Hiding in Plain Sight

There are certain foods that offer ONLY health benefits and others that may contain calcium or protein but also carry a heavy health risk as well.  Obviously the foods that have only shown positive health effects are the foods we should base our diet around.....

8 Benefits of a Healthy Diet

1. Prevention and reversal of cardiovascular disease
Photo by Patrick J. Lynch
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consumption of more than 3 servings of fruits and vegetables daily was associated with:

·         24% lower ischemic heart disease mortality
·         27% lower cardiovascular disease mortality
·         15% lower all cause mortality

Dr. Esselstyn published a study in the Journal of Family Practice highlighting the powerful effect a healthy diet has on reversal of heart disease.  The patients in the study had severe coronary artery disease.  Of the patients who completed the 5 year follow up, the following benefits of a healthy diet were seen:

·         Cholesterol reduction from a mean 246 to below 150
·         Coronary artery disease was arrested in all participants
·         At the ten year check up those remaining on the diet had no coronary events.

2. Prevention and reversal of Type II Diabetes
               Photo by Sarah G.

A study published in Diabetes Care found that a low fat, plant based diet provided far superior control of diabetes than the standard American Diabetes Association diet: 
The following benefits of a healthy plant based diet were seen:

·         43% of those in the plant based diet group reduced their medication vs. only 26% in the ADA diet group
·         Excluding those who changed medications A1c dropped by 1.36 percentage points in the plant based diet group vs. .38 in the ADA diet group.
·         LDL cholesterol dropped 21% in the plant based diet group vs. 10.7% in the ADA diet group.

3. Reduced Risk of Developing Cancer

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a study that found men who ate three or  more servings of cruciferous vegetables per week had a 41% lower risk of prostate cancer than those who ate less than one serving per week.  J Natl Cancer Institute. 2000;92(1):61-68
Diets rich in animal based foods have been associated with high levels of Insulin growth factor (IGF-1), a well known significant risk factor for cancer.
Brody J. Huge study of diet indicts fat and meat.  new York Times. 1990
Chen J, Campbell TC, Li J, Peto R. Diet, lifestyle and mortality in China: a study of the characteristics of 65 Chinese counties.  Oxford: Oxford University Press: 1990 p.894.
Another large study in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined 32,000 adults eating habits over the course of six years.  Researchers found those who avoided red meat but who ate white meat regularly had more than 300 percent increase in colon cancer incidence.
This study also found those who ate beans, peas and lentils a minimum of twice per week had 50% lower risk of colon cancer than those who did not consume these foods.
Singh PN, Fraser GE. Dietary risk factors for colon cancer in a low-risk population.  AM J Epidemiol. 1998;148:761-74
Heterocyclic amines, a by product of cooking meat and a known potent carcinogen is more concentrated in grilled chicken than in red meat.
 Cancer Res. 1995;55(20):4516-19
4. Weight loss and reduced risk of obesity
             Photo by Tony Alter

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated different diets, one low in calorie density and high in fruits and vegetables compared to a group consuming high calorie foods.  Individuals who consumed higher calorie foods had to eat TWICE As many calories in order to satisfy their hunger.
Am J Clin Nutr. 1983;37:763

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is one of several studies showing that whole grain intake decreases visceral abdominal fat and is associated with a lower incidence of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance. 
According to the Mayo Clinic, soluble fiber found in whole grains lowers cholesterol and glucose levels in the body and can improve blood glucose levels in diabetics.  High fiber foods signal the stretch receptors in the stomach indicating satiety with fewer overall consumed calories.

5. Reduced risk of stroke

The study published in the AJCN also found consumption of more than 3 servings of fruits and vegetables per day provided:  42% lower stroke mortality
In countries where the consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and other whole plant foods are regularly consumed the incidence of high blood pressure and stroke is significantly less than in Western countries. 
Am J Public Health 1997 Feb; 87(2):160-8, Am J Epidemiol. 1994 Feb. 15;139(4):380-9

6. Improved digestion and reduced risk of diverticulosis

Diverticulosis was rare before the 20th century when dietary habits in westernized countries shifted from high fiber diets to low fiber diets.  In African countries where the diet is rich in fiber diverticulosis remains very rare.

7. Reduced risk of macular degeneration and cataract formation

According to a review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:  
"The combination of evidence suggests that carotenoids and antioxidant vitamins may help to retard some of the destructive processes in the retina and the retinal pigment epithelium that lead to age-related degeneration of the macula."

8.   Protection against osteoporosis
" Fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes are good sources of boron which stop calcium loss in the body.  Because milk is low in boron and high in protein and phosphorus it causes calcium loss in the body and is not a good osteoporosis fighting food. "
Nutrition Today Jan/Feb 1988; 4-7 FSAEB Journal 1987; 1: 394-397
"Greens, Kale, Broccoli, and Bok Choy are as good as milk in terms of their calcium absorbability. "
 Environmental Nutrition Jan. 1994 p. 3 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1990; 656-657

As you see the significant benefits of a healthy diet I know you must be wondering......What foods have shown in the research to offer these health benefits?
·         Fruits
·         Vegetables
·         Whole grains
·          Legumes
·         Nuts and seeds
The effects of increased vegetable and fruit consumption, including benefits against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, diverticulosis, and cataracts. Suggestions for dietitians to use in counseling persons toward increasing vegetable and fruit intake are presented. J Am Diet Assoc. 1996; 96:1027-1039.
The benefits of a healthy diet are very clear, the research is also very clear that the only foods that provide significant protection against these diseases are: Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds. These foods should be the foundation of any healthy diet in order to reap the significant health benefits of a healthy diet. Hopefully this short article will inspire you to make the necessary dietary changes to reap the greatest health benefits.
I want to hear from you: What Health Benefits have you noticed after changing to a healthy diet?


LibroLover said...

I have to agree that some foods offer only health benefits but those are not the most promoted foods by the food industry. I am asked how will I get calcium if I do not drink milk? Those same questioners who drink plenty milk are calcium deficient. We have to start asking why? By the way, I have not been calcium deficient for the first time in my life since I stopped drinking milk and replaced it with a green smoothie.

Miniveg said...

Greens are an EXCELLENT source of calcium, too bad the rest of the world doesn't really know where calcium comes from.

Brandi said...

I LOVE this information! Now I can pass it on to friends and family and let them know that they CAN make a difference in their health. I also need to ask again... what are the names of the juicing books you use? I had them written down somewhere and can't find them! Now that my kitchen is done I'm going to actually pull out the juicer and use it!

Miniveg said...

I like Heinermans encyclopedia of healing juices, juicing for life or complete book of juicing. You can find them on Amazon.

MonaVie said...

I feel more energetic these days when I switched to a healthy diet. That alone makes me think that it is really doing some wonders on my body.