How To Prevent Illness By Food
Dr Thanh-Tam Pham - 7/3/2021
Health is the most important value in this life and yet most people take it for granted until illness comes and we suffer from it. The 5 leading causes of death in Australia are coronary heart disease, dementia, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), cancers (mainly lung cancer), and chronic obstructive airways disease. Diabetes is a major underlying cause of heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, chronic ulcers and disability from lower limb amputations. Most of those diseases can be prevented by life style changes.
Our body’s natural defence systems are responsible for maintaining our health as we must constantly defend ourselves from bacteria, viruses, toxins , chemicals, radiation from the environment and also from within with the development of abnormal cells from errors during cell division or by mutation that can form tumours and cancers.
In the book “Eat to beat disease” Dr William Li gave evidence that some food can help us to prevent disease by enhancing our body defence system.
The Body Defence System
External Defence System
The external defence system is the first line defence of the body: skin, tears, mucus, saliva, stomach acid, small hairs (cilia) and good bacteria in the bowel. The skin provides a physical barrier preventing bacteria and viruses to go straight into the blood. Tears in eyes, mucus in nose and throat, small hairs in nose and airways are used to trap dangerous organisms to enter the body.
Bacteria can be killed by enzymes in saliva or stomach acid. In a similar way, good bacteria in lower bowel can take care of what remains by competing and making it harder for the dangerous bacteria to establish.
Internal Defence System
If pathogens are able to get past the first line of defence, for example through a cut in the skin, infection can develop. The second line of defence is a group of cells, tissues and organs that work together to protect the body. This is the immune system.
1- The immune system
- The non specific Immune (innate) system comprises of macrophages, neutrophils, interferon and complement proteins. When pathogens enter the body, the innate immune system responds by producing an inflammatory response involving phagocytosis, natural killer cells and the complement system. White cells in blood and lymph recognize pathogens as foreign to the body. Cytokines are small proteins released by the immune system to coordinate the body’s response against infection and trigger inflammation. Sometimes the response can go into overdrive for example in Covid 19 and SARS. Cytokine storms are a common complication of Covid 19 and influenza (Bird Flu) causing
a high fatality rate and multiple organ failure.
Cytokines are chemical mediators to recruit immune cells to the sites of infections.
- The adaptive immune response is more sophisticated and it has a permanent memory of the invaders it destroys. Memory cells confer life- long immunity to a particular pathogen. It has 2 types: cell mediated immunity can attack pathogens by using cells to kill them or it can use antibodies to attack the intruder. Because it takes seven to ten days for antibodies to be made the first time the pathogen is spotted, the adaptive immune defence has a slow response time. This immune defence relies on T cells and B cells. They are trained to distinguish non-self cells (foreign invaders) from self cells.
a- Cell- mediated immunity: there are 3 main types of T cells, helper T cells, cytotoxic T cells and suppressor T cells. Helper T cells release chemical signals to instruct B cells to make antibodies and direct the cellular troops to attack. Cytotoxic T cells are combat fighters directly destroy bacteria or cancer cells. Suppressor T cells release chemicals to turn off the helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells when the battle is over. When the immune system is overactive it can cause autoimmune flares.
Some food can affect those T cells by increasing the numbers of helper T cells and cytotoxic T cells to boost the defence system, other foods can increase the suppressor T cells to prevent auto-immune flares.
b- Antibodies :
B cells produce antibodies.
B cells are constantly on patrol in the body in the blood stream so they can spot any foreign invaders. Bacteria and virus display abnormal antigen matching an antibody receptor on a B cell like a lock and key. The attachment activates the B cells and it starts cloning itself to make more B cells to attack the specific invader. Most of the B cells will die in the battle but a few of them survive and become memory cells. The next time the same invader gets into the body, the memory B cells spring back into action more quickly.
c- Failed Immunity and disease:
In AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) caused by HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) infection, the immune system collapses. HIV invades and destroys healthy human T cells. This leads to a high risk of infections and cancers.
There are a number of inherited immunodeficiency conditions where T cells, B cells, phagocyte function or complement proteins are defective.
The immune system can be weakened by cancers such as multiple myeloma and leukaemia, infections including HPV, Hepatitis B and C , medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, diabetes, obesity, malnutrition and alcoholism.
Autoimmunity is an overactive immune system where normal cells and organs are attacked and their function destroyed. There are many factors in autoimmune disease such as genetics, environment, infections, medication reactions and shifts in the gut bacteria. The common autoimmune diseases are type 1diabetes, SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, systemic sclerosis.
A dysfunctional immune system is one reason that Covid 19 is more deadly in older adults and in people with pre-existing medical conditions.
2- The circulatory system and angiogenesis.
The circulatory system is a complex system of blood vessels to provide blood supply and oxygen to organs and tissues for good health. Angiogenesis is the process in our body to grow and maintain blood vessels. A healthy angiogenesis system regulates when and where blood vessels should grow and can prevent tumours from recruiting a private blood supply for oxygen to expand. Capillaries are the smallest blood vessels that are in close contact with the cells allowing oxygen, nutrients and waste products to be exchanged between tissues and the blood.
Angiogenesis supports the formation of new blood vessels, new capillaries for blood flow to help with the healing of injured tissues.
3- Stem cells and regeneration:
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can generate any cell or tissue in the body with specialised functions. All the basic organs are created from stem cells in the embryo. By the time of birth, most cells in the body have transformed into their specialized organs, leaving only a tiny amount of stem cells. Despite their low number, stem cells continue to play a critical role in regeneration of our organ. Stem cells are depleted by smoking, heavy drinking, aging and diabetes.
Within the cardiovascular system, stem cells contribute to the formation of new blood vessels in regenerating organs, but also have an important role in repairing damage to existing blood vessels in atherosclerosis. Loss of brain stem cells is implicated in the development of dementia.
Stem cells therapies are increasingly researched to be used in Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune disease..
Our body is not a singular entity but a highly complex ecosystem including 39 trillion bacteria mostly good inside and on our body’s surface. Healthy bacteria collectively called the microbiome can foster health and even helps to conquer diseases such as cancer. The microbiome lives in teeth, gums, tongue, tonsils, nose, lungs, ears, vagina and especially gut.
This is an emerging medical revolution to harness the power of the microbiome defence system in our body to prevent and treat disease. Food has a great ability to influence the power of the microbiome as our bacteria eat what we eat.
Our immune defences are influenced by the gut microbes. Under the surface of our gut lining there is a gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). The immune cells in this layer receive signals from our gut bacteria to turn on or shut down the immune system.
The best known bacterial metabolites are short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), the by-products of bacteria digestion of plant-based fibre (prebiotic). SCFAs have anti-inflammatory properties to protect the gut and improve the body’s ability to metabolise glucose and lipids. Some substances made by our microbiome can be toxic such as hydrogen sulphide (found in volcanoes and hot springs). It can damage the gut lining and make the intestines’ contents food and waste particles to leak out causing allergic like reactions to food and even cause colitis.
The dilemma now is how to use antibiotics as antibiotics also kill the good bacteria.
Throughout our lives, we are constantly introducing new bacteria into our body, exchanging bacteria with friends and family. A kiss can introduce as many as 80 million bacteria. But the most common entry point is from eating. Probiotic food contains living bacteria such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, cheese like Camembert.
The more diverse the bacteria in our gut ecosystem, the healthier we are. The way we eat can determine which bacteria in the gut becoming dominant, and food can favour one species over another.
Contrary to popular belief, our genetic fate is not fixed at birth. While the DNA code does not change, specific genes can be turned on or off based on influences from the environment. Every cell in our body has the same DNA but we have so many different cells with different functions. Epigenetic expression is not fixed even in a single organ. Food can influence our DNA’s activities, therefore helpful genes can be amplified and detrimental ones can be blocked.
Most healthy activities create positive epigenetic changes and we now know they bring us benefits through the genes. Exercise causes epigenetic changes so our genes make useful proteins for building muscles, growing new blood vessels to support muscle expansion. Exercise also raises DNA activity in the brain, so more proteins can be made to maintain brain health. Study of sperm of men after exercise spinning for 6 weeks showed changes of sperm DNA responsible for brain function of his children to be born. A study showed that 8 hours of sleep turns on genes that metabolise fat and prevent obesity while sleep deprivation interferes with those genes and many other genes including a gene that blocks cancer.
Meditation causes beneficial epigenetic changes that lower the activity of genes associated with inflammation. In contrast, stress unleashes DNA that is associated with inflammation.
Telomeres are the protective caps at both ends of DNA in chromosomes that help maintain the structures of chromosomes and keep them from sticking together. An enzyme called telomerase repair the telomeres as they naturally shorten as we age. Without telomerase, the telomeres shorten quickly, DNA is unprotected and cells age quickly and die. Studies show that people with shorter telomeres die sooner than those with longer telomeres. Smoking, high stress, poor sleep and lack of exercise reduce the activity of telomerase. Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, relaxation, Yoga can protect telomeres. It was found that diet has great influence such as breast feeding babies have longer telomeres at 4-5 years old. Children who drank soft drinks at age 4, four or more times a week had shorter telomeres.
Food as Medicine
Dr William Li in his book “Eat to beat disease” wrote about evidence through research that food plays an important role for disease prevention. Food is safe to keep the balance in the body “haemostasis” unlike drugs that can cause side effects.
Exercise, sleep and stress management are definitely beneficial but diet can play a most important role.
Some disease were driven by excessive angiogenesis such as cancers, plaques in coronary heart disease..
1- Soy based products such as soy milk, tofu and fermented soy products have antiangiogenetic bioactives known as isoflavones specifically genistein, daidzein… In the Angiogenesis Foundation a diet supplement called genistein concentrated polysaccharide (GCP) was found to kill prostate cancer and lymphoma cells. There is a widespread misconception that woman should avoid eating soy because phyto-oestrogens in soy can cause breast cancer. The Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study found that in women with the highest level of soy intake had a reduction in their risk of cancer recurrence by 32 percent. The amount that is beneficial to health is 10 grams of soy protein a day or a cup of soy milk.
Tomatoes contain useful bioactives especially carotenoids such as licopene that was found to be a potent inhibitor of angiogenesis. All the tomato contains licopene but the skin contains 3 to 5 times more than the flesh. Cooking in olive oil also increases the absorption as licopene is fat soluble. Cherry tomatoes, Tangerine tomatoes , red black skin tomatoes have more licopene that red tomatoes.
3- Anti-angiogenic vegetables
Some studies showed that eating broccoli is associated with a reduced risk of Non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, oesophageal cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma.
Kale has at least 6 anti-angiogenic bioactives.
4- Anti-angiogenic fruits
Stone fruits like peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries, mango and even lychees have anti-angiogenic bioactives. Two studies showed that consuming 2 medium size stone fruits per day decreased risk of oesophageal cancer by 66% and lung cancer in men by 18%. Plums have 3 times the amount of cancer-fighting polyphenols compared to peaches. Lutein found in apricots prevents the formation of beta-amyloid fibrils linked to abnormal angiogenesis in Alzheimer’s disease. Fresh fruits are better than dried fruits.
Eating one or two apples a day was found to reduce bladder cancer by 10%, colon cancer by 20% and lung cancer by 18%. Cloudy apple cider is superior for health because it retains more bioactives.
Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cranberries were linked to lower cancer risk.
People who eat seafood (fish and shellfish) live longer. Omega 3 fatty acid is healthy and is associated with cancer protection. Some studies found that eating 85g of fish or shellfish per day reduced risk of breast cancer by 26% or reduced colon cancer by 31%. Harvard researchers found that consuming one or more servings of fatty fish per week over a 10 year period reduced the risk of developing aged related macular degeneration (AMD) by 42%. AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in the elderly associated with leaky blood vessels from destructive angiogenesis in the retina.
Dark chicken meat in drumsticks and thighs are healthier than chicken breast
as it contains more vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 was found to suppress angiogenesis and growth of colon cancer, prostate cancer, reduction of hardening of arteries and plaque growth and the ability of the body to make cholesterol.
Processed meat such as ham is considered a carcinogen by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
At the Angiogenesis foundation, tea extracts was found to have potent angiogenesis inhibitory effects comparable to drugs. It was found that Jasmine tea is more potent than Japanese sencha tea, but the mixed Jasmine and sencha tea is twice as potent than either of them alone. Earl Grey tea is more potent than Jasmine tea. Green tea is more potent than black tea containing 6 times more bioactive EGCG that reduces harmful angiogenesis and cancer growth, lowers blood pressure, improve blood lipids, restores homeostasis of immune cells and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking 2 to 3 cups of green tea a day is associated with a reduction of 44% risk of colon cancer. Chamomile tea could inhibit angiogenesis by interfering with the signals activating vascular cells to start developing blood vessels.
8- Red wine
Red wine is associated with cardiovascular benefits and anticancer activity. The best known bioactive is Resveratrol but wine also contains beneficial polyphenols that are known to be anti-angiogenic. Studies found that drinking 1 glass of wine a day was associated with a 39% decreased risk of colorectal cancer. But high level of alcohol intake can cause atrial fibrillation, haemorrhagic stroke and cardiomyopathy as well as oesophageal and liver cancer.
Drinking about 5 beers a week can be associated with reduction of kidney cancer, colon cancer, coronary heart disease and dementia. But at high doses it can increase the risk of dementia as alcohol is a brain toxin.
Cheese contains Vitamin K2 and consuming 3 slices a day is associated with 62% reduction of lung cancer and another study showed 35% reduction in prostate cancer.
11- Olive oil
Studies found that 3 to 4 tablespoons per day of extra virgin cold pressed olive oil reduced risk of oesophageal cancer by70%, laryngeal cancer by 60%, oral and pharyngeal cancer by 60%, ovarian cancer by 32%, colorectal cancer by 17% and breast cancer by 11%.
12- Tree nuts( Walnuts,Pecans, Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, Pine nuts, Macadamia) and beans.
Studies showed that 1.5 servings of nuts per day ( 1 serving = 7 walnuts, 18 cashews, 23 almonds or 11 macadamias) in women reduced 31% risk of colon cancer. Men taking 1 serving of nuts or beans (1 serving =2 tablespoons) had 31% risk reduction of prostate cancer.
13- Dark chocolate (Cocoa)
Bioactives in dark chocolate have potent anti-angiogenic effects through the ability to stop the signals activating blood vessel cells.
14- Spices and herbs: rosemary, oregano, turmeric, licorice and cinnamon all have anti- angiogenic effects.
Angiogenesis- stimulating foods
Diseases in need of more Angiogenesis
The cardiovascular system needs blood vessels to function to provide oxygen supply to the various organs like heart, brain, legs or internal organs. Diseases such as Ischaemic heart disease, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, chronic wounds, venous ulcers, pressure ulcers, erectile dysfunction and alopecia are due to poor circulation.
It is perfectly safe to eat foods that promote angiogenesis without provoking cancer as foods cannot override the body’s normal set points for angiogenesis. Diet can only help to enhance the natural state of balance.
1- Barley contains beta-D- glucan activates angiogenesis and grows new blood vessels in oxygen starved organs.
Seeds such as flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds contain bioactives called lignans. They also have high dietary fibre which can lower cholesterol as well as feed the gut microbiome.
2- Foods containing Ursolic acid such as ginseng, rosemary, peppermint and fruit skins including apple peel.
3- Foods rich in Quercetin stimulate angiogenesis in oxygen deprived tissues but they can inhibit inflammation and tumour angiogenesis in animals with lymphoma and breast cancer. They are capers, onions, red-leaf lettuce, hot green chilli peppers, cranberries, black plums and apples.
Anti-aging and stem cells- boosting foods
Stem cells keep us youthful and can also regenerate tissues damaged by ageing. Stem cells can also help reverse the complications of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, smoking, high cholesterol and obesity and other conditions associated with ageing including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
1- Fish Oil
2- Whole wheat such as whole grain diet reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
3- Green Beans
4- Black Chokeberry
5- Rice Bran is the hard edible vitamin packed outer layer of rice grains. The bran is often removed and discarded during refining to convert brown rice into white rice. In the lab, scientists showed that adding rice bran to the diet of mice eating a high-fat diet reduced the incidence of arteriosclerosis.
The main bioactive in turmeric is cucurmin which has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-angiogenic and pro-regenerative properties.
7- Foods and Beverages high in Resveratrol:
Resveratrol is a bioactive well known in grapes, red wine, grape juice and also in blueberries, cranberries, peanuts, pistachios. Resveratrol activates cardiac stem cells that usually lie dormant in the heart but are capable of regenerating heart tissue under stress. Resveratrol is only present in small amounts in wine and in most foods so it may be better to take a supplement rather than the actual food.
8- Foods high in Zeaxanthin
Zeaxanthin is a bioactive known as a carotenoid and is common in corn and saffron, leafy green vegetables such as kale, mustard greens, spinach, watercress and goji berries. This bioactive is very important in eye health protecting against age-related macular degeneration.
9- Foods high in Chlorogenic acid
It is a bioactive found in high concentrations in coffee and also in black tea, blueberries, peaches, fresh and dried plums, aubergines and even bamboo shoots. It has stem cell protection properties.
10- Black raspberries
Individuals eating black raspberry powder had a 30% increase in circulating endothelial progenitor cells and had reduced blood vessel stiffness.
11- Chinese celery. The leaves, stalks and seeds contain NBP (3-n-butylphthalide) that is used as a neuroprotective treatment in patients who have suffered from stroke. It improves brain circulation, lowers brain inflammation, grows nerves and limits brain damage in stroke.
12- Mangoes contain a bioactive mangiferin that has anti-tumour, anti-diabetic and pro-regenerative properties.
13- Stem cells –stimulating beverages
Red wine has resveratrol that improves the blood vessels to dilate and increase blood levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels to dilate and it stimulates angiogenesis for healing and it signals for stem cells to be activated. Red wine intake was associated with 32% reduced risk of atherosclerosis.
Beer is made from yeast and the hops from beer production contain bioactive polyphenols that can reduce risk of death from cardiovascular disease with moderate beer consumption. In contrast, spirits such as gin or vodka are distilled alcoholic beverages and are not associated with health benefits.
Green tea can stimulate regeneration of brain, muscle, bone and nerves and promote wound healing.
Black tea is fermented and has fewer polyphenols and was once thought to be devoid of health benefits but in fact it can molilise stem cells.
Caloric restriction and fasting
Caloric restriction by 20-40% can increase longevity and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Caloric restriction activates stem cells in the intestines, which helps regenerate cells of the gut and other studies showed it can recruit and attract stem cells from the bone marrow into the blood stream.
Another study showed that fasting can stimulate brain regeneration.
Dietary Patterns that impair beneficial Stem cells
1- High fat diet is damaging to stem cells and can lead to problems in neurogenesis and affects the circulatory system.
2- Hyperglycaemic foods block the production of stem cells, lowering the ability to repair organs.
3- High salt diet is linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and to the stripping away of the mucus lining of the stomach and increasing the risk of stomach cancer.
Foods that kill Cancer stem cells
Cancer stem cells are mutations of normal stem cells and they are responsible for initiating many cancers and igniting the recurrence of cancers after treatment.
1-Green tea has the ability to kill cancer stem cells.
3-Walnuts are able to kill cancer stem cells and reduce risk of colon cancer.
4- Extra virgin olive oil was found to be able to suppress breast cancer stem cells.
5- Ketogenic diet involves eating a high fat, very low carbohydrate diet that
mimics fasting for the purpose of generating ketones in the body. Ketones are created from fat stored in the body when carbohydrates are not available for metabolism to make glucose. The ketones are used as an energy source by cells in place of glucose. While normal cells can adapt to use ketones as an energy source, cancer cells cannot adapt because they rely on glucose for their high energy demands. A ketogenic diet may be helpful in fighting brain tumours such as Glioblastoma.
Feed the inner ecosystem
We are just beginning to learn how the microbiome helps our body resist diseases from inflammatory bowel disease, depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
A gut bacteria called Akkermansia can help the immune system, improve blood glucose metabolism, decrease gut inflammation and combat obesity. Out of the 39 trillion bacteria in the microbiome, the presence of Akkermansia predicted a better response to a cancer immumotherapy. Pomegranate juice and cranberry can favour the growth of Akkermansia.
Diseases where the microbiome is disturbed (dysbiosis): obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Pro-inflammatory bacteria dominate the colon and strip away the protective mucus layer of the intestines making the gut lining more vulnerable to inflammations and toxins. Cancer especially in the gastrointestinal tract is associated with microbiome disturbances. When beneficial bacteria are absent, the immune system’s ability to detect and fight cancer is disarmed. An over abundance of certain bacteria can produce higher levels of a toxic substance called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) when red meat is consumed. TMAO damages the lining of blood vessels and makes it easier for dangerous atherosclerotic plaques to form inside the arteries that can lead to fatal heart attack and stroke.
There is emerging evidence that harmful bacteria in the gut can produce neurotoxins that provoke brain inflammation. Disruptions of microbiome are observed in people with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. This is also seen in major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and even in schizophrenia. Dysbiosis also generates abnormal proteins that trigger the body to produce antibodies that cause autoimmune diseases. Reduction of healthy bacteria is observed in multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and inflammatory diseases.
Foods containing healthy bacteria
Eating fermented foods can increase the diversity of the gut microbiome and improves the body health defences.
3- Pao Cai (Chinese Fermented Cabbage)
4- Cheese- parmesan, Camembert cheese
6- Sourdough Bread
Caring for the Microbiome
1- Eat lots of dietary fibre from whole plant based foods such as grains, nuts, legumes and fruits
2- Eat less animal protein
3- Eat more fresh, whole foods and less processed foods which contain synthetic food additives, preservatives and flavours
4- Foods with beneficial effects on the microbiome
- Kiwi fruit has prebiotic effects that shape beneficial gut bacteria and lower inflammation.
- Brassica is a family of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, cabbage, kale, turnips, rocket. Consumption of these vegetables reduces the number of toxin-producing bacteria by 35%. This toxin, hydrogen sulphide, damages the gut lining and is found in high levels in inflammatory bowel disease.
- Bamboo shoots increased in bacterial diversity and reduced weight gain in mice eating a high fat diet.
- Dark chocolate: a study showed that for stressed individuals, eating dark chocolate (40g) for only 2 weeks can influence gut bacteria and reduce stress markers in the body.
- Walnuts can optimize the balance for beneficial bacteria and reduce harmful Clostridium bacteria.
- Beans. A study using black beans and white beans showed an increase in the protective mucus-secreting cells to form a strong gut lining, a barrier to inflammatory substances that can leak from the gut.
- Mushrooms contain bioactives that are anti-angiogenic and activate the immune system. They are also excellent sources of dietary fibre which acts as a prebiotic to increase the diversity of the microbiome. Shiitake mushroom was found to be able to reverse the changes to the microbiome that typically linked to old age.
- Beverages: Pomegranate, Cranberry and Concord grapes. They have a positive impact on the levels of Akkermansia which is associated with reduced gut inflammation and the ability to fight obesity as well as anti-tumour responses to some types of cancer immunotherapy. Stone fruits such as peaches, apricots and mangoes also promote the growth of Akkermansia.
- Red wine can improve the gut microbiome and reduce inflammation in the body.
- Teas. In addition to their anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic properties, they help to make a more favourable microbiome in the gut. Tea saponin in black, oolong and green tea increases good bacteria and decreases bad bacteria.
- Avoid artificial Sweeteners: saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame and neotame. They change the microbiome that favours an increase of the glucose intolerance and weight gain.
Everything we eat feeds the human cells and anything that the body cannot digest will feed the bacteria to create beneficial bioactives to protect our health. The best way is to eat more dietary fibre (plant based foods) , fermented foods and cheese and less animal protein and fat and avoid artificial chemicals.
Food that influence DNA repair
Pollution, industrial toxins, ultraviolet radiation and emotional stress can cause damage to our genetic code. The natural chemical reactions in the body produces free radicals, highly reactive chemicals made from oxygen and nitrogen,that can damage our DNA. Many foods contain bioactive chemicals with anti-oxidant properties that have the ability to neutralise free radicals, lower cellular stress and protect DNA.
DNA damage is found in every type of cancer, auto-immune diseases including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease…
- Berry juices
- Kiwi fruit: eating 3 fruits per day neutralise free radicals and increased DNA repair by 66%.
- Licopene (red-orange colour)-rich foods (tomato, watermelon, guava, pink grapefruit) protect DNA before exposure to the ionising radiation damage from the sun but they cannot repair the damage. Licopene is also protective against DNA damage caused by Helicobacter pilori infection in the stomach.
- Seafood. Omega 5 PUFAs from seafood can protect DNA and improve DNA repair in cells: hake, sea cucumber, manila clams and cockles, tuna, yellowtail and bottarga (dried roe of gray mullet)
- Pacific Oysters, classic oyster sauce.
Food with Epigenetic effects
Some food has the ability to turn off a harmful gene or to activate a useful gene.
- Soy can suppress breast cancer by epigenetically activate the power of a tumour suppressor gene to prevent tumour growth.
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Coffee was found to turn on the tumour suppressor gene in Breast cancer.
- Turmeric increases the activity of tumour suppressor gene to counter the growth of colon cancer and leukemia. Cucurmin reduces injury to the coronary blood vessels by allowing their genes to produce a protein to reduce inflammation. It can also help grow neurons in the brain. Cucurmin has triple duty: protect against cancer, reduce blood vessel inflammation and help grow neurons.
- Herbs : rosemary, basil, marjoram, sage, thyme and peppermint. They prevent the blocking of tumour suppressor genes in human breast cancer cells.
Foods that protect Telomeres
Telomeres play an important role in protecting DNA by shielding the ends of the chromosomes from damage. Telomeres naturally shorten with age.
- Coffee drinking was associated with longer telomeres due to many bioactives but caffeine actually shortens telomeres.
- Nuts and seeds
- Mediterranean diet (vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, mono-unsaturated fats, moderate alcohol, lower consumption of red and processed meats). Western diet high in saturated fats and meat had the opposite effect.
- Vegetable-rich Asian diet
Food that harm DNA Health Defence Mechanisms
- Fatty food: saturated animal fat
- Processed meat. A study found having processed meat 4 to 5 days a week is equivalent to accelerating the ageing by one year for every year of eating this way.
- Sugar -sweetened fizzy beverages
Food that stimulate the Immune system
- Aged garlic
- Broccoli sprouts
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Olive oil also helps reduce the body reaction to allergens. It has both immune boosting and anti-inflammatory health benefits.
- Ellagic acid in chestnuts, blackberries, walnuts and pomegranate has anti-angiogenetic effects that can starve tumours and also improve the ability of immune cells to detect and destroy cancer cells.
- Fruit juices with immune boosting power: cranberry, Concord grape juice
- Blueberries, 250g per day, reduce excessive inflammation while boosting the immune function.
- Chilli peppers. Capsaicin was found to stimulate immune system against fibrosarcoma and colon cancer in mice.
- Pacific oysters have immune defence activation, anti-inflammation and DNA protection
- Licorice root.
Foods that calm inflammation and Auto-immunity
- Food containing Vitamin C for Lupus: 154mg/day equal to 1.5 large oranges, 225g strawberries, 350g raw broccoli…
- Green tea: 4.7 cups a day reduce Lupus activity
- Raw vegan living diet, uncooked plant based and living diet including sprouted plants, fermented foods have lower inflammatory potential and less immune provocative state in Rheumatoid arthritis.
- High vegetable/ Low protein diet. A study in MS patients showed reduction in relapses and symptoms.
Eat to Beat Disease by Dr William Li