Live Healthier and Longer

 By: Sandra Prior
Old habits die hard. If you’re accustomed to heaping a spoon of sugar into your coffee six times a day, and can’t wait to leave the office at lunch time for a toasted sarmie, then you’re not going to like this home grown advice that you probably heard from your mom a million times over; eating more fruit and vegetables is good for you.

There are very Tangible Benefits for Swapping Fast Foods for Fresh

Everybody is so different that you can’t make blanket claims that eating more fruit and vegetables will definitely result in better skin, glossier hair or fewer infections. But we are confident that a healthy diet will affect how bloated you are, and if you’re eating foods with a low GI index, you will have more energy. Cutting out caffeine and alcohol, especially if you are caffeine sensitive, is also bound to result in better sleep.

But if that’s not enough for you to give up your daily diet of comfort food, the following information might be more convincing.

Fruit and vegetables are the only foods which collectively have been consistently associated with risk reduction in several diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and age related macular degeneration. In addition, some new data is emerging to support a protective role for fruits and vegetables in the prevention of cataract formation and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The reason why fruit and vegetables pack such a powerful healing punch has to do with the phytochemicals they contain. Phytochemicals are active compounds in food that prevent disease. Indoles, found in cabbage and Brussels sprouts, have anti cancer properties. Chlorophyll, in green plants, helps to oxygenate the blood and improve energy. Allicin, in garlic and spring onions, boosts the immune system. These are just three of hundreds of the commonly occurring phytochemicals in nature’s pharmacy.

Although many of these are not classified as essential nutrients, they do impact on the chemistry of the body and on our health as significantly as vitamins and minerals. The superheroes in the fight against disease include; aloe vera, berries, blue-green algae (spirulin), carrots, sweet potatoes, watercress, peas, cruciferous vegetables, essential oils such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fish, garlic, shiitake and reishi mushrooms, quinoa, seeds and nuts, soya products, watermelon, wheat and barley grass.

The exact mechanism that explains the protective role of fruit and vegetables in cancer is yet to be determined, but is likely to be multi factorial. The results of many studies continue to suggest a more complex role for specific micronutrients and non nutritive substances, an area which is being actively and intensely investigated. It’s important to remember that fruit and vegetable consumption may also be an index that reflects differences between individuals who do or do not eat healthily, rather than having an exclusively protective role against cancer.

Not sure what that means? Well, chances are if you’re eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, you’re also probably the kind of person who doesn’t smoke, drink in excess and exercises regularly. So it could mean that your whole lifestyle offers protection against disease, rather than the fruit and vegetables being solely responsible for your good health.

But until we have evidence to the contrary, it seems we should stick to mom’s advice and eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
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