In 1942, Victor Lindlahr, the author of “You Are What You Eat”, said that 90% of modern disease was caused by cheap foodstuffs. The way the food industry has changed since then would possibly push this percentage up.
“Cheap foodstuffs”, such as pastries, cakes, crisps, biscuits, fast food, ready meals, sweets and chocolate cause disease through silent or chronic inflammation. They are described as pro-inflammatory foods, because of the actions they trigger on our body cells.
There are two kinds of inflammation. Acute inflammation is the healthy type; it happens when the body’s immune response is called into action to fight off infection or an injury, e.g. a bee sting. It is localized, short-term and visible. Chronic inflammation is not healthy. It is a low-grade inflammation that lingers for months or even years throughout the body. It is invisible to us, but manifests itself in various mild symptoms, such as frequent coughs/colds, joint stiffness, migraines, low mood, digestive problems and fatigue. If it is not managed in time, it can lead to chronic conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s, coeliac disease, cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The brain is also affected by chronic inflammation, which can initially show itself as low mood, mild memory loss and cognitive decline. If it progresses it may lead to more difficult conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of brain disease.
Whist all this sounds depressing, the exciting part is that the power is in our hands to slow down this silent inflammation by seizing control now. On the contrary to medications, which are a reactive measure to reduce apparent symptoms, lifestyle changes are the proactive way to catch the inflammation at its early stage before it becomes toxic. These changes form the four pillars of health:
- An anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy diet.
- Regular exercise
- Good-quality sleep
- Relaxation (i.e. stress management)
In this article we will focus on the diet. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, said Hippocrates around 2,500 years ago. He healed people through plants. We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but despite their proven rich health benefits, their appeal generally remains low. This may be because in our fast-paced world of convenience, they require preparation and thought before they are consumed. Or because it may be more appealing to snack on crisps and chocolate rather than a banana. But, if we really understand what disease-preventing and healing miracles these foods are, we may start to see them in a new light.
Fruits and vegetables come in an array of colour, which they get from a range of specific phytonutrients. Some examples are: carotenoids, monoterpenes, glucosinolates, polyphenols, sulphides and saponins. These substances have a multitude of functions in the actual plant, but also in the human body. They act as:
- Anti-microbial (against fungus, yeasts, viruses)
- Anti-thrombotic (against blood clots)
- Blood pressure modulating
- Cholesterol reducing
Fruits and vegetables also have specific enzymes (e.g. betalain, papain, zingibain), vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K) and minerals (e.g. calcium, magnesium, selenium, iron, zinc, phosphorus etc), all of which are crucial for healthy cellular function. Without these micronutrients, many of the cellular processes would be compromised. From there, the cell would malfunction, which would gradually lead to organ compromise, and hence the manifestation of symptoms as mentioned above. Finally, there would be a diagnosis of a health problem.
Plant foods form the root of a healthy diet plan and should be consumed every day. The recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables is now 7-13 portions. If we look at the world recommendation, we will see that the UK government recommendation still comes in low at 5 portions. Austria recommend 18 and Japan 17. The average person in the UK achieves around 2.8 portions. The more portions of fruit and vegetables we consume the lower our chance of premature death.
The other powerful anti-inflammatory source is omega oils. We should aim for two servings of oily fish a week, but realistically speaking it can be hard to achieve that with consistency.
I have found a vegan omega capsule, which contains all the different omegas in a synergistic form. It is not isolated, or artificial, or sourced from fish; it is plant-based and easily absorbed by the body. I take this every day and it covers my needs of all the omega oils. I would be very happy to share it with you (my contact details are below). These three foods are our guardian angels against inflammation.
Food in modern society isn’t as pure and nutrient-dense as it used to be, and this is especially the case with fruits and vegetables. We can have almost any fruit or vegetable that we desire at any time of year. But we have to ask certain questions to understand the true quality and hence health benefits of what we are buying:
Where was the produce grown (quality of soil), when was it picked from the plant (how much phytonutrient value), how did it get to us (air miles, kept in storage?) and what was sprayed on it (chemicals, many of which are toxic to humans)? Lastly, how many of us make the time to prepare so many portions each day?
We should aim to buy organic and local wherever possible, but we all know that this can be expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, due to the increasing toxicity of the world that we live in (pollution in the air, oceans, the water we drink, the chemicals we spray on our bodies and those we ingest through food), it has become essential for us to supplement our diet with whole foods.
There is a whole food product that I personally use, which is packed with phytonutrients (nutrients found in plants), to help us combat silent inflammation. It is made of 30 different varieties of fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables it’s made of tick all the boxes we mentioned above:
- They are fully ripened on the plant
- They are free of chemicals
- They are raw- hence retain the nutrients we mentioned
- They are grown in nutrient-rich soil
- They are prepared on site, hence no air miles and cold storage involved.
- They come in a convenient form for us to use.
- The products are affordable.
These products are also supported by top-quality clinical research to show that they are absorbed and have positive effects on our body. They are a licensed medicine in Australia and are endorsed by top health professionals, such as doctors, scientists and nutritionists, who understand the value of phyto-nutrients for our long-term health.
As a result of my habit, my children get their products for free for four years. And please note: this is not a multi-vitamin, made with isolated and artificial ingredients, but living food, which contributes around 5 portions of fruit and veg to our daily diet. It bridges the nutritional gap and personally helps me achieve over 10 portions of fruit and veg a day (due to the foods I include in my diet anyway), which is what we should all be aiming for.
In this way, we all put on our nutritional safety belt every day with our plant nutrients and omegas, and off we go to face the day. It’s for anyone who wants to take their health to the next level and have the peace of mind that they are doing all that they can to invest in their personal health and that of their family’s.