THE DIET OF LONGEVITY
UNTIL Relatively a short time ago, from a certain age, medical recommendations on food focused on prohibitions: leave salt, leave sweet, leave fat ... However, for a while here they are more and more the products they advise to include in the diet.
Numerous studies show evidence that certain foods help lower the risk of disease and prolong life or, at least, to live better life expectancy.
FOODS OF THE HEART
The watchword is to keep cholesterol below the safe level of 200 mgdl. Among the foods that help are the fibers of whole-grain cereals, bran, oat bran, etc. studies indicate that 100 grams daily can help lower cholesterol by up to 20 percent. The same effect can be achieved by consuming carrots. Scottish researchers suggest that eating two carrots a day can help lower cholesterol by 10 to 20 percent.
Although the general recommendation is to avoid the consumption of fats, the exception is the so-called omega fatty acids found in many fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout, which lower triglyceride levels, reduce blood pressure, and risks of clots and blockage in the arteries. A study conducted by the Royal Gwent Hospital in Wales in heart patients showed that those who ate fish twice a week had a 30 percent higher survival rate.
Garlic is another powerful protector against coronary heart disease. In 1980, when Canadian researchers compared the typical diets of 15 countries, they found a significant relationship between diets rich in garlic and low death rates from heart disease. More recent studies have shown that garlic helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and reduces the risk of blood clots. It is not yet known why it produces this protection, but it is believed that some of its components inhibit the formation of free radicals, which promote damage to the walls of the arteries.
THOSE WHO INCREASE IMMUNITY
The idea that the immune system can be strengthened by consuming certain foods is still controversial. However, some studies suggest that this connection may be real. Of all the nutrients related to the proper functioning of the immune system, vitamin E holds the most promise. Researchers argue that it increases the function of T cells, which help fight viral and bacterial infections.
The main food sources of vitamin E are cereals, grains, seeds, nuts, wheat germ, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and cabbage.
THE ANTI-CANCER AGENTS
There are also a number of nutrients that are thought to act as protective agents against the development of cancer. A recent study by the National Cancer Institute in the United States found that regions, where there is high consumption of garlic in the diet, have a very low rate of stomach cancer. Sulfuric components in garlic are thought to stimulate the activity of liver enzymes that detoxify carcinogens.
It has also been seen that in Japan and China, where women obtain most of their protein from soybeans, soy milk, and tofu, the rates of breast cancer are much lower, compared with those of women who consume diets Westerners. This has also been verified in the laboratory.
A study conducted at the University of Alabama showed that rats that consumed large amounts of soy and were injected with cancer chemicals had 50 percent fewer tumors.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables has been shown to help prevent multiple cancers. (Most experts also recommend lowering your fat intake and increasing your fiber intake.) But two nutrients are in the sights of researchers: calcium and beta-carotene. A study at the University of Texas showed that after the daily administration of calcium supplements to colon cancer patients for a month, the division of cancer cells went from high to low risk. On the other hand, Japanese researchers have observed that people with diets very low in beta-carotene, a nutrient contained in many fruits and vegetables, have a marked risk of cancer. Beta-carotene is especially abundant in carrots, broccoli, and grapefruits.
It is well known that women, as they age, tend to lose bone mass. To combat this condition, some experts suggest that postmenopausal women who are not on estrogen replacement therapy, which helps preserve bone mass, should consume 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily.
In addition to dairy, green leafy vegetables, salmon, and sardines (with bone) are also good sources. However, simply increasing your calcium intake does not guarantee benefit. It is essential to exercise, which contributes to adequate absorption.
Regarding hypertension, the general recommendation to control it has been to reduce or eliminate salt intake. However, in recent years, specialists have paid special attention to potassium consumption.
Although the researchers do not believe that the solution for hypertensive patients is to formulate potassium supplements, they do recommend consuming more foods rich in potassium such as orange juice, bananas, tomatoes, and bran to prevent it.
More than the risks of eating, we talk today about the benefits that are obtained from it. Every day the scientific world makes new discoveries about the properties of food and its extraordinary potential to promote health. And the truth is that today more than ever that of eating to live seems to be valid.