“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Many of us have heard this phrase, but how many of us apply it to our daily lives? I would like to think
that the author of this quote did not necessarily believe that the cure to every illness could be found in
food. Rather, he believed in the importance of making appropriate food choices in maintaining good
health. In fact, dietary modification is key for the prevention and/or treatment of many common
diseases, such as, high cholesterol, early heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, fatty
liver, and other preventable diseases. A healthy diet can also decrease your risk of developing certain
types of cancers, such as breast and colon cancer. In this article, I would like to suggest 4 tips that you
can use to help you live a healthier lifestyle and lower your risk of developing these preventable
diseases. Please keep in mind that these are general tips and should not be used in lieu of regular,
annual check-ups and consultations with your primary care provider, as certain patients’ health
conditions may require adjustments to their diet that are different from the following
- Eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are arguably
the most important component of a healthy diet.
- Eat plenty of fiber and whole grains.
- A diet rich in fiber and whole grains will help to reduce your cholesterol, keep your blood
sugars stable and maintain normal bowel movements. Foods that are naturally high in
fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole wheat bread, pasta or cereals.
- Check Nutrition Labels on food for Fiber content. Keep in mind that fiber-rich foods are
associated with more intestinal gas. If you are having problems with too much gas, take
Beano (generic form: alpha-galactosidase enzyme) supplements before eating gas-producing foods.
- Reduce intake of animal fat, saturated fat, trans fat, processed meats and
- Ingesting too much animal fat and processed meats (such as bacon, sausage, deli meats,
beef jerky, hot dogs, pepperoni, corned beef, and spam) products is associated with an
increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancers.
-Eating charred/burned/grilled/smoked meat can increase your risk of certain types of
cancers due to the production of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) during the cooking
process. Suggested methods to cook meat products in order to minimize the production of
these cancer-causing agents are: boiling, steaming, poaching, sous vide, slow cooking,
-Healthier sources of protein include lean meats, fish, tofu, beans, eggs (but try to minimize
ingestion of egg yolks, if you are watching your cholesterol), low-fat dairy products, nuts,
-Check the Nutrition Labels of your food for their saturated fat content. Foods that tend to
be high in saturated fat are processed/junk food and dairy products (milk, cheese, cream,
butter). Try not to eat the fat on meat (such as the fat you see on chicken, steak, bacon,
-Healthier fats to consume are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. You can find
these fats in foods such as Fish, Avocado, Nuts, Seeds, Olive oil, and Vegetable oils.
- Avoid high-sugar drinks.
A large contributor to excessive sugar intake in Americans are sugar-laden drinks, typically soda
or juice. The problem with ingesting too much sugar or calories is that it leads to overweight
and obesity, which increases the risk of developing certain diseases, such as heart disease, high
blood pressure, and diabetes. Try to stick to low-calorie drinks (less than 10 calories per
If you are interested in reading more about healthy dietary recommendations, you can visit the
following website: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/
For a list of healthy, vegetarian recipes, you can visit the following website: