Sunday, April 19, 2009

You become what you eat

Two recent reports highlight how easy it is to significantly reduce your likelihood of getting common diseases, and improving your health at the same time.

Research in the UK published in the European Journal of Cancer prevention showed that rates of colon cancer could be cut by around 30% in men and 20% in women. This is achieved by simply eating more fruit and vegetables, cutting down on red meat, (to under 90g per day) doing regular exercise, drinking only moderate amounts (maximum 2 drinks per day for women and 3 for men) of alcohol and being in a healthy weight range. Of course the last one is a by-product of the others.

Meanwhile a review of 50 years of studies on diet and heart disease was published in Archives of Internal Medicine. This showed that eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes and fish reduced rates of heart disease. A diet high in processed foods, refined grains, high GI (glycaemic index) foods, red meats and foods with trans fats increased the risks.

These findings do not come as a surprise. Whilst there is at times a view that we are “innocent victims” of disease there is very much that we can do to influence our chances one way or the other. Whilst eating foods which our bodies need and doing regular exercise does not guarantee we will never get sick it does significantly reduce the chances.

You wouldn’t dream of deliberately putting fuel not suited to your cars engine into the tank. Yet many put fuels not suited to our bodies into ourselves. Eating good food is not difficult, boring or expensive. Apart from the benefits outlined above you will have more energy and feel better. What you eat today becomes you tomorrow - think about what you put into your body.

The best way not to get sick is to be healthy.

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