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March 13, 2023

Dr. Cha on Nutrition

Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group Nutrition2 WS

“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


  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Reduce intake of animal fat, saturated fat, trans fat, processed meats and

charred/grilled meats.

- 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.

  1. 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:

For a list of healthy, vegetarian recipes, you can visit the following website:

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