What foods can help me defend my body against illness?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 21, 2016
Luvz2care asked...

I am wondering how reliable and accurate the information is regarding the 5 vegetables that are mentioned in this article for fighting off and/or defending against cancers and other diseases?

Where else might I be able to read up on foods that help defend the body against illness and/or what foods to add to a diet to keep healthy???


Expert Answers

Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is Caring.com senior food and nutrition editor and the director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet.

Your's is a very important question and while I don't have the reference for the article you mention, I can say that there are a great many vegetables and fruits that have been shown to impact disease. It is important to remember that the foods we eat do much more than quiet a hungry belly or provide building blocks for energy metabolism. The foods and beverages we consume actually have the ability to impact our genes and influence our health destiny. It is said by many in the field of Functional Medicine that ""¦ food is more than energy "“ it actually speaks to our genes." Eating to prevent cancer or its recurrence is a great example. Consider that our bodies are biochemical environments that can be impacted with the next meal or beverage we consume. Some foods and beverages have the ability to turn on or activate genes that help with tumor suppression or inhibiting blood vessel formation within tumors; while other foods (typically heavily processed, man manipulated foods) provide environments that contribute to the activation of cancer causing genes and may in fact turn off tumor suppressing genes! The American Institute for Cancer Research has an excellent website for more information.

The best way to obtain the maximum health benefits from our foods is to work towards a whole food, minimally processed diet that contains the greatest variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts and other healthy fats. In addition look to increase the intake of plant proteins (beans and legumes) and seafood, particularly the cold water fish like wild salmon. There are many wonderful researchers and writers who are contributing to this exciting field of study. Among my favorites are the following:

Foods to Fight Cancer: Essential foods to help prevent cancer by Richard Beliveau and Denis Gringas(Apr 16, 2007)

Cooking with Foods That Fight Cancer by Richard Béliveau and Denis Gingras (Oct 16, 2007)

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating by M.D. Walter C. Willett and P. J. Skerrett (Jun 28, 2005)

Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, Revised Edition: A Proven Program for Taking Full Advantage of Your Body's Natural Healing Power by Andrew Weil (Sep 12, 2006)

So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger (Oct 26, 2009)

The Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health by Gerard E. Mullin MD, Kathie Madonna Swift MS RD LDN and Andrew Weil MD (Jul 5, 2011)

Ultraprevention: The 6-Week Plan That Will Make You Healthy for Life by Mark Hyman , Mark Liponis

What to Eat by Marion Nestle (Apr 17, 2007)

Be well, Beth