Your diet reflects your health!
The healthier your diet is, the less you will become sick – and vice versa. Good and healthy food choices provide a well-balanced mix of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial compounds that help keep you healthy.
But as people are becoming busier in this fast-paced world, many have begun to rely on highly processed, inflammation-producing foods. This ultimately results in poor health.
However, you can reverse many of the effects of a poor diet by eating healthy and including disease-fighting foods in your diet. Always remember that when it comes to taking care of your health, prevention is the key and it is never too late to take steps toward better health.
Here are the top 10 foods that help prevent and fight diseases.
1. Lemon for Obesity
Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Obesity is linked with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and even some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney and colon).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2014. Of these, over 600 million were obese. The figure is expected to rise in the coming years.
To help aid weight loss and protect yourself from the clutches of obesity, start your day with lemon water.
Lemon helps improve digestion and aids detoxification, removing toxins from your body that slow down your metabolism.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition suggests that supplementation with lemon polyphenols suppressed weight gain and fat accumulation.
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine suggests that drinking lemon juice and honey mixed in water over four days of fasting may be useful for reducing body weight, body mass index (BMI), fat mass, free-fat mass and total serum triglycerides in healthy individuals. This might help prevent obesity and hypertriglyceridemia.
Another 2016 study published bythe American Chemical Society reports that citrus fruits contain plenty of vitamins and substances, such as antioxidants, that can help prevent harmful effects of obesity. The study was done in mice that were fed a Western-style, high-fat diet.
2. Turmeric for Arthritis
Arthritis is a joint disorder in which one or more joints become inflamed. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and it can cause severe pain in the affected joints.
According to the CDC, an estimated 54.4 million U.S. adults (22.7 percent) suffered from some type of arthritis from 2013 to 2015. By 2040, an estimated 78 million U.S. adults (26 percent) may be diagnosed with arthritis.
Living with arthritis is extremely painful. But you can manage arthritis and other pain-related problems with turmeric.
Herbalists have used turmeric for centuries as a natural remedy for several ailments. It contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, turmeric’s antioxidant property destroys free radicals in the body that damage cells.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine highlights that curcumin inhibits a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation.
A 2016 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food reports that there is scientific evidence of the efficacy of turmeric extracts and curcumin for alleviating the symptoms of joint arthritis. However, researchers said more rigorous and larger studies are needed to confirm its therapeutic efficacy for arthritis.
Add fresh turmeric juice to your regular smoothie or juice. Another option is to drink a glass of warm milk mixed with 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder daily before going to bed.
3. Beets for Anemia
More and more people are becoming anemic, a condition that occurs when the body’s red blood cell count is less than normal.
According to the WHO, anemia affects 1.62 billion people, which is about 24.8 percent of the global population.
When you’re anemic, your blood can’t deliver the proper oxygen supply to your organs and tissues. This can affect the functioning of different body organs.
To combat anemia, one of the best foods is beetroots. Beetroots have a significant amount of iron that helps in regeneration of red blood cells. Also, being sweet and full of fiber and vitamin C, beets make a delicious and nutrient-packed addition to any meal.
A 2013 study published in the IOSR Journal of Nursing and Health Science reports that intake of freshly prepared beetroot juice leads to a highly significant improvement in hemoglobin level.
Similarly, a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Nursing Education and Research reports that there is improvement in hemoglobin level with the use of beetroot juice with jaggery.
Blend 1 medium-sized beetroot along with carrots and spinach in a juicer, and drink the juice daily. You can also eat beets as a cooked vegetable or in a salad.
4. Yogurt for High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a silent killer, as it can cause blood vessel damage that leads to heart disease, kidney disease, a stroke and other problems. An estimated 75 million Americans have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To keep your blood pressure under control, start eating low-fat yogurt. Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and other heart-healthy nutrients that can help lower your blood pressure. Plus, it has compounds that help inhibit angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) much like the ACE inhibitor drugs.
A study presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions reports that eating more yogurt without increasing the number of calories you eat may help lower your risk of high blood pressure.
Another study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology/Lifestyle 2016 Scientific Sessions found that women who ate five or more servings of yogurt per week, especially as part of a healthy diet, had a lower risk of developing high blood pressure.
Eat at least ½ or 1 cup of low-fat yogurt every other day to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure. You can add almonds, walnuts and fruits to your yogurt for extra heart-healthy benefits.
5. Blueberries and Blackberries for Diabetes
In 2015, 30.3 million Americans, or 9.4 percent of the population, had diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. In fact, diabetes was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States in 2015.
Unmanaged diabetes can be problematic, as high blood sugar can affect different body organs, from your eyes to kidneys. To keep your blood sugar level under control, start eating blueberries and blackberries.
The antidiabetic effect of these berries is thought to be due to the high level of phytochemicals – naturally occurring antioxidants. Also, these berries are packed with vitamins and fiber that can help control blood sugar levels as well as other health complications due to diabetes.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Nutrition reports that daily dietary supplementation with bioactives from whole blueberries improved insulin sensitivity in obese, nondiabetic and insulin-resistant participants.
A 2016 study published in Antioxidants (Basel) found a positive antidiabetic effect of blueberries. However, researchers said more clinical trials are needed before a definitive conclusion can be drawn.
Enjoy 1 cup of blueberries (fresh or dried) each day. You can have them as a snack or add them to your cereal, yogurt or smoothies.
6. Green Tea for High Cholesterol
Your body needs some cholesterol, but when you eat high-cholesterol foods, a waxy substance can build up on the walls of your arteries and lead to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
According to the CDC, 71 million American adults have high levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad” cholesterol). Taking steps to lower your cholesterol can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or dying of heart disease.
One easy step to fight bad cholesterol is switching to green tea instead of your regular coffee.
Several compounds in green tea help prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract and aid in its excretion. Also, it improves the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.
Plus, green tea helps keep the arteries clean by preventing the oxidization of LDL, which can cause plaque buildup. This in turn reduces the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
According to a 2011 meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea intake lowers fasting serum total and LDL cholesterol in adults.
Aim to drink 3 to 4 cups of green tea on a daily basis.
7. Garlic for Weak Immunity
A weak immunity can make you more prone to the common cold and flu as well as other health problems. This happens if your immune system –your body’s defense mechanism– is unable to fight off germs and other invaders.
Garlic can help you keep your immunity strong. Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin. Allicin contains sulfur, which gives garlic its medicinal and immune-boosting properties.
In addition, garlic has vitamins C and B6 along with the minerals selenium and manganese that help boost the immune system.
A 2001 study published in Advances in Therapy found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63 percent compared with a placebo group. The study also shows that the average length of cold symptoms was reduced by 70 percent, from 5 days in the placebo group to just 1.5 days in the garlic group.
A 2009 study published in Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis found that garlic enhances immune functions and has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral activities.
Another 2012 study published in Clinical Nutrition found that supplementation of the diet with aged garlic extract may enhance immune cell function and that this may be responsible, in part, for reduced severity of colds and flu.
Eat 2 to 3 raw cloves of garlic on an empty stomach daily. Also, add crushed garlic to your cooked dishes.
8. Bananas for Diarrhea
Banana is highly beneficial treating problems like stomach upset, stomach aches and diarrhea. It contains pectin, a soluble fiber, that binds to the fluids in the intestines. Thus, it helps regulate bowel movements and add bulk to stool.
Banana also contains minerals that work as electrolytes to help restore electrolyte balance in the body due to loss of fluids when suffering from bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. Plus, banana is a great food for providing instant energy.
A 2001 study published in the journal Gastroenterology found green banana and pectin fiber to be helpful in managing diarrhea in Bangladeshi children suffering from persistent diarrhea.
When suffering from diarrhea, eat an under ripe, green banana to help soothe your stomach. When giving to children, you can boil it in water for about 10 minutes. Mash the banana and then give it to your child.
9. Broccoli for Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide. It is also estimated that the number of new cancer cases will rise to 22 million within the next two decades.
Looking at this alarming figure, it becomes more important to take necessary steps to reduce your risk of cancer. Diet plays a key role in preventing cancer.
When it comes to diet, be sure to include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. The glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds like indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates.
These compounds inhibit the development of cancer in several organs like the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach.
Broccoli is also loaded with antioxidants that help clean free-radical residues, toxins and other carcinogens out of the body.
A 2011 study done at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University concluded that sulforaphane in broccoli helps prevent cancer.
A 2013 study published in Future Oncology highlights the chemopreventive properties of sulforaphane, which is derived from the principal glucosinolates of broccoli and broccoli sprouts.
A 2016 study by the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences reports that including broccoli in the diet may also protect against liver cancer, as well as aid in countering the development of fatty liver or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
To protect yourself from cancer, eat about 2 cups of boiled or steamed broccoli, 2 or 3 times per week.
10. Walnuts for Brain Health
Good brain power is important, as the brain works continuously and regulates the functions of other organs without taking a break.
It is your brain that controls all thought, movement and sensation to help you function properly. To keep your brain in peak condition, eat a few walnuts daily.
Walnuts have a significantly high concentration of DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid that helps boost brain health, improve cognitive performance and prevent or ameliorate age-related cognitive decline.
Walnuts also improve the flow of oxygen and nutrients through blood vessels in the brain and fight inflammation, which helps your brain function properly. Additionally, walnuts contain the memory-protective vitamin B6 and magnesium.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutrition reports that English walnuts are rich in numerous phytochemicals, including high amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and offer potential benefits to brain health.
Another 2014 animal study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reports that a diet including walnuts may have a beneficial effect in reducing the risk, delaying the onset, slowing the progression of, or preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging suggests that eating a handful of walnuts per day or even less may help boost memory, concentration and the speed at which your brain processes information.