The following is a list of the foods and nutrients that help to repair and heal your body that has been damaged by diabetes.
Triggering your body's cell repair and healing biological processes are important, because, if you don't, then, you cannot reverse your diabetes.
These foods and nutrients will also help to accelerate the repair. As a result, some diabetics will be able to wean off the drugs a lot faster, especially if they combine multiple therapies, such as the following:
- Superior nutrition, e.g. plant-based foods, anti-inflammatory foods, antioxidant-rich foods
- Raw juicing (before meals)
- Raw food diet
- Maintaining blood glucose levels in the normal range
- Strengthening the immune system
- Cleanse & detox
- Wholefood targeted supplementation
- Quality sleep
- Consistent (low-impact) exercise, combined with strength training
- Avoidance of "dead" processed foods and beverages
- Avoidance of prescription/OTC and recreational drugs
- Reduction/avoidance of high stress
You may be asking why it's important to wean off the drugs as quickly as possible. If you happen to be on insulin, you may not be eligible for certain jobs in the workplace, e.g. pilot, traffic controller, operator of heavy machinery. Consequently, it is important to (safely) wean off the insulin so that you are eligible for those jobs.
Also, the longer you stay on a drug, the more dependent your body becomes on that drug. Plus, the drugs keep your body in a diabetic state and inhibit or slow down the healing process.
Macronutrients and Micronutrients
As depicted in the following diagram (from the author's Science of Diabetes book), foods provide key nutrients in the form of macronutrients (such as carbs, proteins, and fats); and, also, in the form of micronutrients (such as vitamins and minerals).
These nutrients, when obtained from healthy foods on a regular basis, are key to reversing your diabetes and achieving optimum health.
Key Macronutrients for Diabetics
From a nutritional science perspective, food is comprised of macronutrients and micronutrients.
The major macronutrients are:
These macronutrients will promote an overall effect upon your health and willhelp repair the damage caused by a disease such as diabetes.
Note: For more information about nutritional science, get the author's Science of Diabetes book.
Carbohydrates for Healing
We need adequate Carbohydrates from green and bright-colored vegetables and dark-colored fruits to generate the energy for your cells to do their job.
Carbohydrates provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and glucose, which is necessary for cellular growth, fibroblastic mobility, leukocyte activity, cell-to-cell communications, and other activities during the inflammatory phase.
The green, chlorophyll-rich foods (i.e. vegetables, blue-green algae, seaweed, grasses) provide vitamins and minerals, in addition to high amounts of iron and high quality protein to help cleanse the blood, flush out toxins, strengthen red blood cell production and cellular regeneration, improve bowel function, and boost immune function.
Wheat grass, marine phytoplankton and blue-green algaes such as chlorella and spirulina provide a full array of phytonutrients, omega fatty acids, active enzymes, B vitamins, carotenoids and polysaccharides and are wonderful nutrient-dense, chlorophyll-rich foods for detoxifying heavy metals, increasing physical energy as well as improving brain and nervous system function.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends an average carbohydrate intake of 130 g per day for all ages, adjusted to suit your activity level and health condition.
Proteins for Healing
We need adequate Protein from legumes, cold-water fish, Omega-3 eggs, chicken breast, and blue-green algae (i.e. chlorella, spirulina) for cell structure, cell repair, and our DNA.
Protein provides vitamins, minerals, fiber and amino acids to repair and build new body cells. Protein is necessary for tissue repair and maintenance. Sufficient protein intake enables collagen and fibroblast production, promoting wound healing.
Protein is required as part of the inflammatory process, in the immune response and in the development of granulation tissue. The main protein synthesized during the healing process is collagen, and the strength of the collagen determines wound strength.
The amino acid arginine supports collagen formation and becomes essential during severe stress. It is abundant in the structure of collagen, and increases its tensile strength. It also stimulates insulin secretion, promotes the transport of amino acids into tissue cells and supports the formation of protein in the cells.
The amino acid glutamine promotes lymphocyte production and macrophage function, and is essential for protein synthesis during stress states.
The amino acid l-cystine also helps speed the healing of wounds.
A protein supplement for free-form amino acids helps in collagen synthesis and therefore helps heal wounds. These amino acids are easily absorbed and assimilated.
Note: Protein in foods is either complete, containing all the essential amino acids -- those your body cannot make -- or incomplete, lacking one or more of these essential amino acids. You get complete protein from animal-based foods such as fish, meats, and eggs. Eating a variety of different grains, fruits and vegetables, which contain incomplete protein, will supply all the amino acids. Adults should get between 46 and 56 g of protein per day.
Fats for Healing
We also need adequate Fat from plants and animals to support our cell health. Monounsaturated fats in olive oil and Omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish play a role in the healing process by conferring an anti-inflammatory effect, which may soothe discomfort from swelling in joints.
Fats provide vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to help create cell membranes and help absorb nutrients via the cell membrane and for energy production. It draws on energy reserves from carbohydrates first during activity, and from fats second, during extended activity. Fat is essential for digestion, absorption, and transport of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E).
Fats have a key role in cell membrane structure and function. Certain fatty acids are essential, as they cannot be synthesized in sufficient amounts, so must be provided by diet. The role of essential fatty acids in wound healing is unclear, but as they are involved in the synthesis of new cells, depletion would certainly delay wound healing.
Essential fatty acid classifications include saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, depending on their molecular structures.
Omega-3 EFAs, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, are anti-inflammatory, which aids wound healing, but may inhibit clotting which could be disadvantageous (Williams and Leaper 2000).
Note: Laboratory studies indicate that Omega-3 fatty acids may increase healing of ligaments injured by sprains by accelerating the entry of new cells into the damaged area and speeding up collagen synthesis.
Monounsaturated fats provide many health benefits to the cardiovascular system, endocrine system and immune system, helping to keep our cells supple and non-sticky.
Despite what you may have heard, saturated fats from animal, plant and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet. And, saturated fats are the preferred fuel for your heart and provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances.
Just make sure that the saturated fat comes from a "clean" animal that is grass-fed, organic, or wild game such as bison.
When you eat saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to Vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.
Saturated fats in extra virgin coconut oil contains the healthy form of saturated fat that is very stable, the medium chain fatty acids.
Therefore, virgin coconut oil is better for heating and cooking foods, e.g. sautéing, cooking and frying. The healthy medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats, but are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy, just like carbohydrates. Therefore, the body uses the fat in coconut oil to produce energy, rather than be stored as body fat.
Note: Laboratory studies indicate that omega-3 fatty acids may increase healing of ligaments injured by sprains by accelerating the entry of new cells into the damaged area and speeding up Collagen synthesis. Fish are a natural source of Vitamin D, which is required by the body for calcium absorption and is also needed for the maintenance of healthy cartilage and bones.
Water is sometimes overlooked when it comes to key foods needed to repair the body.
Water provides necessary hydration to facilitate the healing process and help the cells to absorb nutrients via the cell membrane.
Water helps facilitate proper circulation and detoxification to support proper healing.
However, avoid tap water and most bottled waters; and, drink filtered or distilled water instead.
Key Micronutrients for Diabetics
The micronutrients include:
Consequently, a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is essential for repair and optimum bone, ligament and muscle health, along with the healing of cells and tissues damaged from diseases such as diabetes.
Vitamins for Healing
Vitamins are organic compounds found in food that provide specific health benefits. Vitamins fall into two major categories:
- Fat Soluble include: Vitamins A, D, E, K
- Water Soluble include: Vitamins B-Complex*, C
*B-Complex vitamins include: thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin) vitamin B9 (folate), and vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin).
All of these vitamins play a role in helping your body to heal and repair itself. Here are some ways that this is accomplished:
Vitamin A is lipid-soluble and stored in the liver. Vitamin A stimulates the early inflammatory response to healing. So, it is necessary for the early inflammatory phase of wound healing, for wound debridement, for fighting off infection, aiding in controlling the inflammatory response. and for scar tissue strengthening.
Vitamin A jumpstarts collagen synthesis. This function is necessary for the development of new skin and veins. According to the National Institutes of Health, low levels of this element can lead to increased risk of wound infection and delayed healing.
Vitamin A can prevent the delay in wound healing that steroids often cause. A deficiency decreases collagen and granulation tissue development and increases the likelihood of wound infection.
Vitamin A is also involved in the cross-linking of collagen and the proliferation of epithelial cells.
Red fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish and dark green vegetables are all good sources of Vitamin A.
B Vitamins help to generate energy and create new cells during the cell repair process. B vitamins help replace the red blood cells lost through bleeding when a wound occurs.
The main purpose of this vitamin complex is to metabolize carbohydrates and proteins to produce energy, which is essential for cell growth, repair and movement.
Food sources include beans, mushrooms, vegetables,nuts and seeds and meat.
Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.
Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of arterial walls, cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Note: Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and forms into fibers which are stronger than iron wire of comparable size. These fibers provide strength and stability to all body tissues, including the arteries. Vitamin C is absolutely essential for the production and repair of collagen, and is destroyed during the process, so a regular supply of vitamin C is necessary to maintain the strength of body tissues.
Collagen and elastin give our arteries their structure. The increased production of collagen, elastin and other structural reinforcement molecules allow your body to maintain the structural integrity of the all of your vascular walls.
This prevents the damage to your coronary arteries due to mechanical stress.Therefore artery walls do not crack and thus are less susceptible to calcification and deposit buildup.
Collagen differs from other protein molecules in that it makes particular use of the amino acids lysine and proline. Vitamin C therapy stimulates the production of collagen in artery walls.
Therefore, the adequate supply of lysine, proline and vitamin C is an important factor in maximizing the production of collagen and maintaining healthy arteries.
Vitamin C needs are increased with all kinds of stress, both internal (emotional) and external (environmental). Smoking decreases vitamin C levels and increases the minimum needs. Birth control pills, estrogen, cortisone, diabetes, and aspirin also increase vitamin C requirements.
The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins, including vitamin C, is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods -- especially vegetables, fruits, and other super foods.
However, since vitamin C is not stored in the body, it is best to eat and drink vegetables and/or fruits with each meal or snack as defined in the Death to Diabetes Super Meal Diet and the Raw Juicing Program.
Foods that tend to be the highest sources of vitamin C include green peppers, citrus fruits and juices, kiwifruit, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. Other excellent sources include papaya, mango, watermelon, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapples.
Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Vitamin E and beta-carotene are two other well-known antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy. Antioxidants also help reduce the damage to the body caused by toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
Vitamin D provides many health benefits, including helping to heal wounds, which is very important for diabetics.
Study researcher Richard L. Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., said that wounds cause the immune system within skin cells to call up an increased production of vitamin D3. The genes controlled by vitamin D3 then promote further creation of an antimicrobial peptide called cathelicidin that the immune system uses to fight infections.
"Our study shows that skin wounds need vitamin D3 to protect against infection and begin the normal repair process," Gallo said in a UCSD press release. "A deficiency in active D3 may compromise the body's innate immune system which works to resist infection, making a patient more vulnerable to microbes."
Fish are a natural source of vitamin D3, which is required by the body for calcium absorption and is also needed for the maintenance of healthy cartilage and bones.
Specific food sources for vitamin D3 include wild salmon, sardines, tuna, organic egg yolks, beef liver, and unprocessed cod liver oil.
Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant and helps your macrophages work to eat up bacteria and pathogen invaders and call in more troops to fight infection.
Vitamin E appears to aid repair in several ways. As an antioxidant, it helps eliminate destructive byproducts from the body’s use of oxygen that impede repair.
Because it’s lipid-soluble, Vitamin E can actually insert itself into the membrane to prevent free radicals from attacking. It also can help keep phospholipids, a major membrane component, compliant so they repair better after a tear.
Vitamin E is rubbed on the skin to reduce signs of ageing and is consumed by runners to improve endurance. But scientists now have found how the powerful antioxidant helps repair tears in the plasma membrane.
Vitamin K is required for protein modification and blood clotting and is involved in the formation of thrombin. A deficiency in the presence of wounds could lead to a hematoma (a localized collection of blood outside the blood vessels, usually in liquid form within the tissue).
Unless you are taking medication like Warfarin or Coumadin to prevent blood clots, there is no known risk of Vitamin K toxicity, and no reason not to eat a lot of it.
Foods rich in Vitamin K include green leafy vegetables such as: frozen kale, frozen spinach, mustard greens, spinach, collards, beet greens, Swiss chard, turnip greens, dandelion greens, and broccoli raab.
Consequently, the body requires all of these key nutrients in order to get through the following four phases of Cell Repair and Healing.
Coenzyme Q10 is a free radical destroyer that improves tissue oxygenation and is important in energy production within the cell's mitochondria (powerhouses).
Key Point: If you are taking a statin drug, make sure that you supplement with CoQ10. Why? Because the statin drug blocks the liver from producing this important molecule.
Minerals for Healing
Minerals fall into two major categories:
- Macro Elements include: calcium, phosphate, sulfur, sodium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium. These minerals are needed in large amounts.
- Micro Elements (Trace Elements) include: iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine, molybdenum, cobalt. These minerals are needed in trace amounts.
All of these minerals play a direct or indirect role in helping your body to heal and repair itself. Here are some of the ways that these minerals help us:
Calcium is vital for bone and joint strength. Recent studies have uncovered that a small amount (<2%) of calcium is involved in the first phase of the cell repair and healing process by helping to activate an enzyme that synthesizes hydrogen peroxide. Then, hydrogen peroxide attracts the first white blood cells as part of the inflammatory response, to kill off invading bacteria.
Copper is a co-enzyme for lysyl-oxidase, which is essential for the conversion of collagen and elastin, and subsequently for joint function. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and may ease pain in arthritic and damaged joints.
Iodine is necessary for your body to make thyroid hormone – which is involved in almost every process in your body including energy metabolism and temperature regulation.
Magnesium works with calcium and phosphorus to form bones, and it also assists in the conversion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to energy. In addition, magnesium helps to modulate cellular events involved in inflammation so that inflammation doesn't get out of control.
Magnesium keeps our blood vessels relaxed. Insufficient magnesium can contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms, and migraine headaches.
Manganese (found in amaranth, pineapples, shellfish and wheat germ) is also beneficial for bone metabolism and growth; and, is involved in collagen synthesis along with boron.
Selenium is necessary for proper antioxidant function and liver detoxification; and, is also essential for healthy muscles and hair.
Zinc, known as the healing mineral, promotes tissue growth, enhances mineral absorption, helps your body use protein, and it also may repair damaged tissue by activating enzymes necessary for collagen synthesis.
Zinc, along with calcium and magnesium, are important nutrients for tissue repair.
Chromium is especially important to diabetics for healing purposes, because chromium helps to reduce insulin resistance, which fuels chronic inflammation.
Phytonutrients for Healing
Phytonutrients, also called phytochemicals, are chemicals produced by plants. Plants use phytonutrients to stay healthy. For example, some phytonutrients protect plants from insect attacks, while others protect against radiation from UV rays.
These phytonutrients are often concentrated in the skins of many fruits and vegetables, and are responsible for their color, hue, scent, and flavor. Examples of foods rich in these nutrients include: tomatoes, red onions, green tea, grapes, red cabbages, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, parsley, spinach, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, melons, garlic, and the list goes on.
Studies show that various phytonutrients provide significant benefits for humans who eat plant foods. Some phytonutrients help our cells communicate better with each other, others help prevent mutations at a cellular level, some are anti-inflammatory, others are potent antioxidants and many have functions we are only beginning to understand.
What we do know is that these phytonutrients help prevent cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases; and, are anti-aging, boost the immune system and generally promote good health.
The best known phytonutrients are the carotenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, indoles, lignans and isoflavones.
Carotenoids include yellow, orange, and red pigment in fruits and vegetables. Dark, green, leafy vegetables are rich in the carotenoid, beta carotene, but the usual yellow color is masked by the chlorophyll, the green pigment in vegetables.
Flavonoids are reddish pigments, found in red grape skins and citrus fruits while polyphenols are found in green tea and berries. Indoles are found in cruciferous vegetables, lignans in flaxseed and isoflavones can be found in peanuts, lentils, soy, and other legumes.
It’s best to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, the more varied the colors the better. This is because each class of phytonutrients has different effects. Like other nutrients, different phytonutrients offer different benefits and work synergistically with each other.
For example, flavonoids and carotenoids have more health-promoting properties when they’re eaten together in the same food rather than when they are taken separately.
It is always best to get your phytonutrients from fresh organic fruits and vegetables -- not supplements! But, if you are not eating enough vegetables and fruits, then, consider raw juicing and green smoothies to obtain these nutrients. If you do decide to take supplements, make sure that they are not synthetic and as close to nature as possible.
Food preparation affects the potency and effectiveness of phytonutrients. For example, raw vegetables usually have more nutrients than cooked ones. There are some exceptions, such as cooking broccoli which releases the enzyme, indole, that fights some cancers. When you crush or chop garlic it releases the enzyme, allicinase, to produce the active phytonutrient, allicin.
Phytonutrient-rich foods include colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, teas, organic whole grains, herbs and spices.
Benefits of phytonutrients include DNA repair, anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, enhanced immunity, intercellular communication, and detoxification.
Types of Phytonutrients
There are many classes and groups of phytonutrients that contain thousands of phytonutrients. Some of the key, more well-known phytonutrient groups include:
There are more than 600 carotenoids. They are yellow, orange and red pigments in plants. The most common carotenoids in a Western diet are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, and astaxanthin. Each of these carotenoids carries a distinct set of actions and benefits.
Vegetable and fruit sources for carotenoids include carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, mangos, spinach, kale, tomatoes, bell peppers and oranges. In order to be properly absorbed, carotenoids should be consumed with a fat.
Carotenoids are associated with antioxidant activity, eye health, immune system activity, intercellular communication and reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The body can covert alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin into vitamin A (retinol), which is associated with anti-aging and immune system function. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids found in the retina and are associated with lower risks of macular degeneration.
Curcumin is found primarily in turmeric, a member of the ginger family. It gives turmeric its distinctive yellow color. Because of its curcumin, turmeric has been used as a medicinal remedy in India for centuries.
Curcumin is an effective anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant. It may also affect carcinogen metabolism, helping the body get rid of toxic compounds, and aid in combating cancer cell growth and tumors.
Based on successful animal trials, it has been suggested that curcumin could aid in inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis as well as cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Curcumin can also be helpful in cardiovascular protection by lowering LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Flavonoids (also called bioflavonoids) are a large family of more than 5,000 polyphenolic plant compounds. Flavonoids are classified into 12 major subclasses based on chemical structures, six of which are of dietary significance.
These 6 subclasses of flavonoids are flavones, flavonones, isoflavones, flavonols, flavanols, and anthocyanidins (anthocyanins).
Well-known flavonoids in these subclasses include quercetin, daidzein, genestein, hesperetin, cyanidin, kaempferol and EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate).
Because they are so diverse, flavonoids are found across a large range of foods, including apples, onions, coffee, grapefruit, tea, berries, chocolate, legumes, red wine, broccoli, cabbage, kale, leeks, tomatoes, ginger, lemons, parsley, carrots and buckwheat.
Flavonoids are associated with longevity and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. One large-scale, 25-year study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at men across seven countries and found that flavonoid consumption was significantly associated with longevity.
For more details about flavonoids, refer to the following website:
Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. They give those vegetables their characteristic bitter flavor and pungent aroma.
Glucosinolates are broken down into active compounds called indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates. These chemicals have been studied for a variety of potential benefits.
Epidemiological studies show that eating a diet high in cruciferous vegetables is associated with having a lower risk of certain types of cancer. This may be due to the isothiocyanates and indoles -- two of the compounds formed from glucosinolates.
But it's important to understand there may be other lifestyle and dietary factors involved since people who eat more cruciferous vegetables tend to eat healthier diets in general.
Isothiocyanates and indoles have shown anti-cancer properties in several laboratory studies, but clinical research on humans is needed to verify this.
Lignans can mimic the effects of estrogen, so lignans are considered phytoestrogens, though they can also affect the body through non-estrogenic means, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.
Like all phytonutrients, lignans are found in fruits and vegetables, especially kale, broccoli, apricots and strawberries. They are particularly abundant in seeds and whole grains, including sesame seeds, poppy seeds, rye and oat bran. Flaxseeds are the richest source of lignans.
Lignans are associated with preventing hormone-related cancers because of their estrogen-like activity, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Onions, garlic, and scallions called allyl sulfides and bioflavonoids, which are key to their powerful health benefits.
For cardiovascular health, clinical experiments have shown regular consumption of garlic may help improve circulation and help decrease calcium deposits and the size of arterial plaque in coronary arteries.
These sulfides provide anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-cancer benefits.
As for detoxification, one study found that eating fresh garlic and onions each day can help remove toxins from the body.
Tocopherols and Tocotrienols
Tocopherols and tocotrienols are phytochemical compounds that are fat-soluble antioxidants found in the Vitamin E molecule.
Specifically, in nature, vitamin E is comprised of 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols: alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ), and delta (δ).
Research studies have shown vitamin E to be beneficial for heart health, cancer prevention, and eye health (cataract prevention).
The health-boosting capabilities of Vitamin E (within food) were illustrated in a 12-year study of over 88,000 female nurses in the United States (known as the "Nurses Health Study"). Nurses who ate a diet high in foods with Vitamin E had fewer heart problems … lower rates of breast and cervical cancers … lower cholesterol levels … and generally much better health than those who didn't.
Other studies have shown that men who eat this type of diet have a similarly high level of good health, lower PSA scores, lower incidents of prostate and other cancers, significantly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, improved heart function, and decreased incidence of heart disease.
People who take high levels of Vitamin E supplements don't gain anywhere near the same health benefits. Why? Because most Vitamin E supplements are not really Vitamin E at all. These supplements only contain one out of the 8 parts of the Vitamin E molecule -- alpha tocopherol.
Vitamin E fights against free radicals in a number of different cellular arenas. But one of its most important functions appears to be protecting your cell membranes from free radical damage.
If a free radical attacks one of the lipids, a near-by tocopherol can take the brunt of the attack saving the phospholipid from having an electron removed (being oxidized) and becoming rancid. Or, if the phospholipid is oxidized, the tocopherol molecule quickly reverses the oxidation before long-term damage is done.
Similarly, the tocopherol molecules protect the cholesterol portion of your cell membrane. Both HDL ("good" cholesterol) and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) are important structural components of many parts of your cells including the membrane. They are also building blocks of many hormones and other physiologically important compounds.
It is only when LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized that it becomes a problem. Oxidized LDL cholesterol is one of the most important factors in getting blocked arteries. Blocked arteries is the primary cause of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and phlebitis.
If not protected by Vitamin E, cholesterol in membranes and throughout your body will become oxidized by free radicals. The survival of a cell depends on the integrity of its membrane. If a phospholipid becomes oxidized, it migrates to the surface of the membrane.
When in proper balance, alpha- and gamma tocopherols work in coordination with each other. Alpha-tocopherol's particular specialty is protecting your cells against the ravages of reactive oxygen. It is the main player in protecting your cell membranes against free radicals.
Gamma-tocopherol attacks and neutralizes both reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen. It forms a second line of defense against attacks on cell membranes. But it also protects nitric oxide (NO) from becoming cancer-causing nitrites and nitrates—something alpha-tocopherol does not do.
This is just one example of the subtle interplay between all eight components of the powerful antioxidant known as Vitamin E.
However, while alpha-tocopherol is a strong fighter, it is also something of a bully. High levels of alpha-tocopherol (above 150 IU) suppress gamma-tocopherol levels. By suppressing gamma-tocopherol, high levels of alpha-tocopherol suppress gamma's ability to protect you against heart disease, cancers, and other free radical related illnesses.
In other words, if you take too much alpha-tocopherol, you are destroying gamma-tocopherol's ability to protect you from cancer and heart disease!
If you want Vitamin E to work for you, you need all the components in the correct amounts. Or you could be wasting your time … or worse, your health.
Most of the research into Vitamin E has been done on alpha- and gamma-tocopherols, but research on the tocotrienols is increasing and showing their importance in maintaining good health. For instance, research indicates that tocotrienols can clear atherosclerotic blockage in the carotid artery, a condition that can lead to stroke. (Lipids 1995 Dec; 30(12); 1179-83)
Cholesterol levels have also been lowered by the tocotrienol fraction of Vitamin E. One particular study involved 25 high cholesterol patients in a double blind study. After eight weeks, total cholesterol and LDL levels decreased significantly in the 15 subjects given the palm tocotrienols, while the control group exhibited no change. (Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1991 Apr; 53 (4 suppl.): 1021S-1026S)
Tocotrienols are showing promise in the battle against cancer. Tests show tocotrienols have the ability to kill cancer cells by inducing programmed cell death (known as apoptosis). While doing this, it leaves healthy cells alone.
Human breast cancer cells have also responded positively to tocotrienol treatment as noted in a study of cancer cells in culture whose growth was inhibited. (Lipids 1995 Dec; 30 (12): 1139-43).
Food sources for vitamin E include nuts, seeds, and wheat germ. Wheat germ oil (210+ mg) contains at least four times as much vitamin E, compared to other oils (39-55 mg) such as sunflower, almond, hazelnut, walnut, olive, and peanut. Other foods that contain vitamin E, but in much smaller amounts (0.5-3 mg) include bran, corn, poppy seed, asparagus, spinach, oats, tomatoes, carrots and other vegetables and fruits.
Note: Most vitamin companies market vitamin E as primarily alpha tocopherol or dl-alpha tocpherol, which, of course, is not true. This is one of the reasons why vitamin E supplements don't work and receive poor reports from various studies.
Other Phytonutrients: Polyphenols
There are many other categories of phytonutrients, some of which overlap with some of the aforementioned phytonutrients. For example, one of those categories is called polyphenols.
Polyphenols (also called phenolics) are a large class of over 4,000 chemical compounds found in plants that give them their color and protect the plants from insects and the environment.
Polyphenols are antioxidants, which can neutralize free radicals, reduce inflammation and slow the growth of tumors. But, polyphenols go beyond providing antioxidant protection, so polyphenols are not simply antioxidants.
Their specific health-promoting actions are still being actively researched, but, it is generally recognized that they regulate enzyme function and stimulate cell receptors; and, can reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and basically help to protect many body systems from the ravages of many types of chronic disease.
It is possible that the health promoting effects of polyphenols are not due to their antioxidant qualities, but rather because they help control blood sugar spikes after meals.
Polyphenols add astringency and bite to foods. You'll notice it in tea that's brewed too strong (once called tannins) and in the "greenish" flavor of extra virgin olive oil or the back palate of red wine. Anything that makes your mouth pucker generally contains polyphenols.
Polyphenols are divided into four primary groups: phenolic acids, lignans, stilbenes, and flavonoids. Plants with polyphenol activity have played a major role in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. With an anti-inflammatory action, support for the liver, and promoting normal circulatory health, their benefits are plentiful.
Polyphenols are available in a wide variety of unprocessed raw vegetables and fruits. Examples of polyphenols include resveratrol in red wine, capsaicin in chilli and paprika, thymol in thyme, cinnamic acid in cinnamon, rosmarinic acid found in rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and peppermint.
With the increase in polyphenol research and the extensive discussion in scientific journals, potential therapeutic applications for these compounds have been discovered. Here are just a few of the benefits related to polyphenols.
Cardiovascular Health: Polyphenols found in cocoa have been shown to reduce cardiovascular stress through the inhibition of LDL cholesterol oxidation. These compounds also increase the vasodilation of blood vessels to promote circulation. Keep in mind that organic dark chocolate, 72% cacao and above, is where the benefits have been found.
Blood Pressure: Studies indicate flavonoids, like catechins, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids, are important dietary compounds that support normal blood pressure by inhibiting the physiological mechanisms which trigger hypertension.
Blood Sugar: A group of polyphenols called flavonoids has displayed beneficial effects for supporting normal blood sugar levels. These flavonoids, typically found in teas and cocoa, appear to enhance insulin secretion, reduce cell death, regulate glucose metabolism, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce oxidative stress, and increase glucose uptake by cells.
Possible Cancer Prevention: While polyphenols won’t cure cancer, research has explored their potential therapeutic role. Some polyphenols appear to offer protection against carcinogens — cancer-causing substances present in food and the environment.
Brain Health: The antioxidant effect of polyphenols may combat the early onset of dementia-like symptoms. Polyphenols have been linked with lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.
Skin Protection: The consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds may protect the skin from UV radiation. Resveratrol, a compound in red wine, has active polyphenic qualities that aid in protecting the skin. Other compounds, like silymarin, genistein, delphinidin, pomegranate fruit extract, grape seed, proanthocyanidins, and green tea polyphenols, may also ward off UV damage.
The best food sources of polyphenols include vegetables, fruits, teas, organic coffee, and red wine. Citrus fruits contain specific types of polyphenols, like flavanones, while other fruits contain a wider range of polyphenols.
Growing conditions play a substantial role in polyphenol content. To ensure the best and most potent sources of polyphenols from foods, choose foods that are local, organic and non-GMO.
As previously mentioned, resveratrol is the member of a group of plant compounds called polyphenols.
Resveratrol has the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
Resveratrol can be found in grape skin and red wine. It is also found in raw organic peanuts, grape juice, cocoa, blueberries and cranberries.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, resveratrol may help slow cognitive decline. In animal studies, resveratrol has shown neuroprotective activities and promotion of healthy peptides.
A 2010 human study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that resveratrol increased cerebral blood flow but did not lead to improved performance in cognitively difficult tasks.
Resveratrol is also being studied as a possible treatment for type 2 diabetes because in animal studies, it has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, according to a 2015 article in Biochimica Biophysica Acta.
Ellagic acid, which is also called a tannin, is another well-known polyphenol. Ellagic acid is associated with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity, as well as reducing blood pressure and arterial plaque.
Food sources for ellagic acid include raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, grapes, pomegranates and walnuts. It can also be produced during the body’s process of breaking down larger phytonutrients called ellagitannins.
According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, scientists hypothesize that ellagic acid enhances detoxing enzymes in the liver while also inhibiting liver enzymes that encourage metabolism.
Another potential benefit from ellagic acid is improved glucose metabolism. According to a 2010 article in the Journal of Medicinal Food, ellagic acid may block the intestinal enzyme alpha-glucosidase, which triggers glucose absorption. This means that less glucose enters the bloodstream, which could be beneficial for type 2 diabetics.
Top Healing Foods for Diabetes
Asparagus | Top Healing Food
Asparagus is a powerful source of protein and the B vitamin folate. Asparagus is an excellent vegetable to eat if you’re bloated and suffering irregularity. It flushes water wastes from the body, contains a good amount of potassium to prevent dehydration, and is filled with easy to digest fiber.
Asparagus also has a nice sweet flavor, which makes it a delicious vegetable to enjoy for health benefits. Try grilling it, steaming it, roasting it, or just toss some frozen asparagus pieces into your next batch of soup.
Black Beans | Top Healing Food
Protein is the component of black beans that bring them to superfood status. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a single serving – or 1/2 cup – of these legumes provides about 8 grams of protein, and they’re low in both sodium and saturated fats.
When it comes to wound healing, protein is needed for the development of new tissue, and a deficiency could lead to slow recovery times. With that in mind, black beans are an excellent alternative to meat for vegetarians and vegans – they can be used as the foundation for meat-free burger patties, as the source of protein in soups and as side dishes and dips in a variety of ways.
Broccoli | Top Healing Food
You'll find it difficult to locate another single food source with as much naturally occurring health-promoting properties as broccoli. A single cup of steamed broccoli provides more than 200 percent of the RDA for vitamin C (more than oranges)and nearly as much of vitamin K.
In addition, broccoli provides about half of the daily allowance for vitamin A, along with plentiful folate, fiber, sulfur, iron, B vitamins, and other important nutrients.
Calorie for calorie, broccoli contains about twice the amount of protein as steak -- and a lot more protective phytonutrients.
Broccoli's phytochemicals fight cancer by neutralizing carcinogens and accelerating their elimination from the body, in addition to inhibiting tumors caused by chemical carcinogens. Studies show evidence that these substances help prevent lung and esophageal cancers and may play a role in lowering the risk of other cancers, including gastrointestinal cancer.
Phytonutrients called indoles found in broccoli help protect against prostate, gastric, skin, breast, and cervical cancers. Some research suggests that indoles also protect the structure of DNA and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Extensive studies have linked broccoli to a 20 percent reduction in heart disease risk.
Like many other vegetables, broccoli provides fantastic nutrition both in its raw form and when it's properly cooked. Cooking reduces some of broccoli's anticancer components, but lightly steaming it will preserve most of the nutrients.
Tip: Steaming or cooking broccoli lightly releases the maximum amount of the antioxidant sulforaphane.
Cabbage | Top Healing Food
Cabbage is a powerhouse source of vitamins K and C. Just one cup supplies 91 percent of the recommended daily amount for vitamin K, 50 percent of vitamin C, good amounts of fiber, and decent scores of manganese, vitamin B6, folate, and more -- and it'll only cost you about 33 calories. Calorie for calorie, cabbage offers 11 percent more vitamin C than oranges.
Cabbage contains high levels of antioxidant sulforaphanes that not only fight free radicals before they damage DNA but also stimulate enzymes that detoxify carcinogens in the body. Researchers believe this one-two approach may contribute to the apparent ability of cruciferous vegetables to reduce the risk of cancer more effectively than any other plant food group. Numerous studies point to a strong association between diets high in cruciferous vegetables and a low incidence of lung, colon, breast, ovarian, and bladder cancers.
Cabbage builds strong bones, dampens allergic reactions, reducesinflammation, and promotes gastrointestinal health. Cabbage is routinely juiced as a natural remedy for healing peptic ulcers due to its high glutamine content. It also provides significant cardiovascular benefit by preventing plaque formation in the blood vessels.
In Chinese medicine, cabbage is used to treat constipation, the common cold, whooping cough, depression and irritability, and stomach ulcers. When eaten and used as a poultice, as a dual treatment, cabbage is helpful for healing bedsores, varicose veins, and arthritis.
Try raw sauerkraut. It has all the health properties of cabbage, plus some potent probiotics, which are excellent for digestive health.
Use the whole cabbage; the outer leaves contain a third more calcium than the inner leaves.
Both are nutritional stars, but red cabbages are far superior to the white variety, with about seven times more vitamin C and more than four times the polyphenols, which protect cells from oxidative stress and cancer.
Carrots | Top Healing Food
Carrots are a great source of the potent antioxidants known as carotenoids. Diets high in carotenoids have been tied to a decreased risk in postmenopausal breast cancer as well as cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus.
Carrots may also reduce your risk of kidney and ovarian cancers. In addition to fighting cancer, the nutrients in carrots inhibit cardiovascular disease, stimulate the immune system, promote colon health, and support ear and eye health.
Carrots contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin C, and an incredible amount of vitamin A. The alpha-carotene in carrots has shown promise in inhibiting tumor growth.
Carrots also contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which work together to promote eye health and prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
In Chinese medicine, carrots are used to treat rheumatism, kidney stones, tumors, indigestion, diarrhea, night blindness, ear infections, earaches, deafness, skin lesions, urinary tract infections, coughs, and constipation.
Remove carrot tops before storing them in the fridge, as the tops drain moisture from the roots and will cause the carrots to wilt.
Buy organic; conventionally grown carrots frequently show high pesticide residues.
Cherries | Top Healing Food
Cherries (tart) contain quercetin and ellagic acid, two compounds which have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors and even cause cancer cells to commit suicide -- without damaging healthy cells. Cherries also have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Anthocyanin, another compound in cherries, is credited with lowering the uric acid levels in the blood, thereby reducing a common cause of gout. Researchers believe anthocyanins may also reduce your risk of colon cancer.
Further, these compounds work like a natural form of ibuprofen, reducing inflammation and curbing pain. Regular consumption may help lower risk of heart attack and stroke.
In Chinese medicine, cherries are routinely used as a remedy for gout, arthritis, and rheumatism (as well as anemia, due to their high iron content).
Tip: Buy organic or wash thoroughly, since conventionally grown cherries can be high in pesticides.
Cranberries | Top Healing Food
Cranberries are excellent body detoxifiers that cleanse the blood, liver, prevent bacterial infections in the stomach and bladder, and also cleanse the kidneys.
Tip: Try adding cranberries to smoothies, or even soups and stews if you’re feeling creative. They also make great snacks, and for times when you can’t find them fresh, buy dried unsweetened cranberries to add to morning cereal, homemade trail mix, or to bake and cook with.
Dandelion Root/Greens | Top Healing Food
Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D and the minerals calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc.
One cup of raw dandelion greens provides 535 percent of the RDA of vitamin K and 112 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. Dandelion greens are one of the richest sources of vitamin A; among all green vegetables, it's one of the best sources of beta-carotene.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine (USNLM) site also indicates that dandelion is used to treat these conditions: cancer, colitis, diabetes and hepatitis B. However, it also warns that not enough clinical studies have been done to prove dandelion's effectiveness for treating these conditions.
Dandelion has been used for centuries to treat hepatitis, kidney, and liver disorders such as kidney stones, jaundice, and cirrhosis. It's routinely prescribed as a natural treatment for hepatitis C, anemia, and liver detoxification (poor liver function has been linked to numerous conditions, from indigestion and hepatitis to irritability and depression).
As a natural diuretic, dandelion supports the entire digestive system and increases urine output, helping flush toxins and excess salt from the kidneys. The naturally occurring potassium in dandelions helps prevent the loss of potassium that can occur with pharmaceutical diuretics.
Dandelion promotes digestive health by stimulating bile production, resulting in a gentle laxative effect. Inulin, a naturally occurring soluble fiber in dandelion, further aids digestion by feeding the healthy probiotic bacteria in the intestines.
Dandelion also increases calcium absorption and has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels, therefore being useful in treating diabetes.
Both the dandelion leaves and root are used to treat heartburn and indigestion. The pectin in dandelion relieves constipation and, in combination with vitamin C, reduces cholesterol.
Dandelion is excellent for reducing edema, bloating, and water retention; it can also help reduce high blood pressure. On top of all that, dandelion contains multiple anti-diarrheal and anti-bacterial properties.
In Chinese medicine, dandelion is used in combination with other herbs to treat hepatitis and upper respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The sap from the stem and root is a topical remedy for warts.
Tip: Use the root in soups or saute it on its own. Use the leaves in your salad or smoothie. If the raw leaves are too bitter for you, try them lightly steamed or sauteed.
Note: We’re not talking about the dandelion weeds in your backyard, but fresh dandelion greens from your produce market. :-)
Garlic | Top Healing Food
If history tells us anything about garlic, it is that garlic has many well-known health benefits – the most popular being its anti-infection uses and ability to boost the immune system.
Garlic possess antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties allowing it to stand up against all infections. Skin conditions caused by bacteria, virus, fungi or yeast can be treated by rubbing raw chopped garlic on the affected area.
Garlic has been studied not only for it’s ability to fight bacterial and viral infections, but also infection from other microbes including yeasts/fungi and worms. One particular substance found in garlic called ajoene has been used to help prevent infections with the yeast Candida albicans.
Other research has shown that crushed garlic can help prevent infection by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in patients with burns.
And, of course, garlic is great for boosting the immune system, containing high levels of vitamin C and being identified as a serious anti-cancer food.
Because of its high potassium content, it can aid in absorption of essential nutrients, and help avoid digestive problems and fatigue as well.
For more information about garlic, refer to our Garlic web page.
Ginger | Top Healing Food
Ginger has a long history of use for relieving digestive problems such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness and pain. Ginger is seen as a “warming” food that can increase circulation and reduce general inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory compounds responsible for significantly reducing inflammation are called gingerols. These compounds make ginger an amazing beneficial tool for various inflammatory-related health conditions.
In numerous research pieces, researches found that the compounds are responsible for reduction in pain and improvement in mobility for those with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
In two clinical studies, it was found that 75% of arthritis patients and 100% of patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief of pain and/or swelling. In addition to pain levels decreasing, the compounds may also lessen swelling.
In addition to helping those with arthritis, ginger can also benefit those experiencing other diseases caused by or fueled by inflammation such as obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, numerous cancer types, and cardiovascular disease, to name a few.
Ginger is now recognized by many healthcare professionals as a tool for reducing nausea, particularly in the prevention and reduction of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV).
Sources of ginger include fresh ginger root, teas, extracts, capsules, oils, and as a dried ground spice.
Be aware that the ginger on the shelves of grocery store is probably not fresh and may have been in storage for several months or longer.
The root or underground stem (rhizome) of the ginger plant can be consumed fresh, powdered, dried as a spice, in oil form or as juice.
To remove the skin from fresh mature ginger, peel with a paring knife. The ginger can then be sliced, minced or julienned.
The taste that ginger imparts to a dish depends upon when it is added during the cooking process. Added at the beginning, it will lend a subtler flavor while added near the end, it will deliver a more pungent taste.
Kale | Top Healing Food
Kale is highly nutritious, has powerful antioxidant properties, and is anti-inflammatory. One cup of cooked kale contains an astounding 1,328 percent of the RDA for vitamin K, 192 percent of the RDA for vitamin A, and 89 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. It's also a good source of calcium and iron.
Kale is in the same plant family as broccoli and cabbage, and, like its cruciferous cousins, it contains high levels of the cancer-fighting compound sulforaphane.
This compound guards against prostate, gastric, skin, and breast cancers by boosting the body's detoxification enzymes and fighting free radicals in the body. The indoles in kale have been shown to protect against breast, cervical, and colon cancers.
The vitamin K in kale promotes blood clotting, protects the heart, and helps build strong bones by anchoring calcium to the bone. It also has more antioxidant power than spinach, protecting against free-radical damage. Kale is extra rich in beta-carotene (containing seven times as much as does broccoli), lutein, and zeaxanthin (ten times the amount in broccoli).
In Chinese medicine, kale is used to help ease lung congestion.
Steam or saute kale on its own, or add it to soups and stews. Cooking helps tenderize the leaves.
Kale is also a great addition when it's blended in smoothies or juiced with other vegetables.
Kelp | Top Healing Food
Iodine is essential to the thyroid, the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck. Low thyroid levels can cause sluggishness, weight gain, and moodiness.
Kelp is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and most importantly for low thyroid levels, iodine. Be aware that overdoing iodine can create problems, too. The key is a moderate amount to raise energy levels and brain functioning.
FYI: Other top-healing greens include kale, bok choy, spinach, parsley, green beans, and alfalfa.
Kiwi | Top Healing Food
This tiny, nutrient-dense fruit contains an amazing amount of vitamin C (double the amount found in oranges), has more fiber than apples, and beats bananas as a high-potassium food.
The unique blend of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals found in kiwi helps protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory disease.
Kiwi's natural blood-thinning properties work without the side effects of aspirin and support vascular health by reducing the formation of spontaneous blood clots, lowering LDL cholesterol, and reducing blood pressure.
Multiple studies have shown that kiwi not only reduces oxidative stress and damage to DNA but also prompts damaged cells to repair themselves.
Kiwi is often recommended as part of an anticancer and heart-healthy diet, and in Chinese medicine it's used to accelerate the healing of wounds and sores.
Please Note: Technically, kiwi's official name is "kiwifruit". A "kiwi" is the name of a small bird in New Zealand. "Kiwis" is the name of the citizens of New Zealand. Also, another name for "kiwifruit" is "Chinese gooseberries" because this fruit originated from China.
Kiwifruit contains enzymes that activate once you cut the fruit, causing the flesh to tenderize. So if you're making a fruit salad, cut the kiwifruit last.
The riper the kiwifruit, the greater the antioxidant power, so let them ripen before you dig in.
Lemons | Top Healing Food
The health benefits of lemons are due to its many nourishing elements like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, folate, niacin thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus and protein.
Lemon contains flavonoids, which are compounds that contain antioxidant and cancer fighting properties. It helps to prevent diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, fever, indigestion and many other problems, as well as improving the skin, hair, and teeth.
Studies conducted at the American Urological Association highlight the fact that lemonade or lemon juice can eliminate the occurrence of kidney stones by forming urinary citrate, which prevents the formation of crystals.
High Blood Pressure: Drinking lemon juice is helpful for people suffering from heart problems, because it contains potassium. It controls high blood pressure, dizziness, and nausea, because it provides a calming sensation to both the mind and body. It is commonly employed to reduce mental stress and depression.
Indigestion and Constipation: Lemon juice helps with problems related to indigestion and constipation. Add a few drops of lemon on your dish (take care, it does not go well with milk), and it will aid in digestion.
Start your day by drinking a detoxifying lemon water drink by squeezing a quarter of a lemon into a big glass of filtered water.
Try lemons cut into wedges and squeezed over salads and soups for extra flavor.
As a refreshing drink, lemonade helps you to stay calm and cool.
Medicinal Mushrooms | Top Healing Food
Medicinal mushrooms (e.g. cordyceps, maitake, reishi, shiitake) provide a wealth of protein, fiber, B vitamins, and vitamin C, as well as calcium and other minerals.
Medicinal mushrooms are rich in polysaccharides and beta glucans, the primary active compounds that provide various immunological and anti-cancer benefits.
These mushrooms also offer other important health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-viral, anti-microbial, antioxidants, anti-hypertensive, cholesterol-lowering, and liver protection.
These medicinal mushrooms have been shown to boost heart health; lower the risk of cancer; promote immune function; ward off viruses, bacteria, and fungi; reduce inflammation; combat allergies; help balance blood sugar levels; and support the body's detoxification mechanisms.
Maitake, shiitake, and reishi mushrooms have many overlapping properties: all boost immune function, all support cardiovascular health, and all show promise in lowering the risk of - or treating - cancer. However, maitake is specifically recommended for the stomach and intestines, as well as blood sugar levels; shiitake treats nutritional deficiencies and liver ailments; and reishi promotes respiratory health and spirituality.
Unfortunately, these properties have attracted the interest of many pharmaceutical companies, which are viewing the medicinal mushroom as a rich source of innovative biomedical molecules.
Medicinal mushrooms and mushroom extracts are used worldwide to fight cancer and enhance and modulate immune response. Lentinula edodes (shiitake), Grifola frondosa (maitake), Ganoderma lucidum (mannentake), and Cordyceps have a history of medicinal use for millennia in parts of Asia.
Medicinal mushrooms can be used too make teas, tinctures and tonics. For example, you can make a tea by simply adding mushroom slices to a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil and then cook at a hot simmer for at least 1 hour. Next, strain the mixture through a colander or kitchen strainer.
Slice mushrooms and add to a salad or soup.
Onions | Top Healing Food
Onions contain potent cancer-fighting enzymes and other compounds that help lower the risk of prostate and esophageal cancers and has also been linked to reduced mortality from coronary heart disease.
Onions contain sulfides that help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as a peptide that may help prevent bone loss by inhibiting the loss of calcium and other bone minerals.
Onions contain quercetin, an antioxidant and natural antihistamine that reduces airway inflammation and helps relieve symptoms of allergies and hay fever.
Onions also boast high levels of vitamin C, which, along with the quercetin, battles cold and flu symptoms. Onions' anti-inflammatory properties help fight the pain and swelling associated with osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.
Onions are also extremely rich in sulfur and they have antibiotic and antiviral properties, making them excellent for people who consume a diet high in protein, fat, or sugar, as they help cleanse the arteries and impede the growth of viruses, yeasts, and other disease-causing agents, which can build up in an imbalanced diet.
Raw onions provide the best nutrition, but they're still great for you when they're lightly cooked. And cooking meat at high temperatures (such as on a grill) with onions can help reduce or counteract carcinogens produced by the meat.
Add sliced onions to your salad and sandwich. You can also add onions when cooking a soup or stir fry. However, for maximum health benefits, add some of the onions to the soup or stir fry after cooking.
Onions should be stored at room temperature. If onions bother your eyes when you cut them, try refrigerating them for an hour beforehand.
All varieties are extremely good for you, but shallots and yellow onions lead the pack in antioxidant activity.
Probiotics | Top Healing Food
Probiotics are live microorganisms ("friendly bacteria”) that your body needs to protect against disease. They can be found in foods like yogurt, kefir, natto, miso, raw cheese, and sauerkraut.
Probiotics provide many health benefits including:
- boost immune system
- prevent and treat urinary tract infections
- improve digestive function
- heal inflammatory bowel conditions like IBS
- manage and prevent eczema in children
- fight food-borne illnesses
Key Point: If you take antibiotics, make sure that you follow up with probiotics because the antibiotics kills both the bad bacteria and the good bacteria in your gut. This creates an imbalance in your gut flora and, over time, weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to invading bacteria and pathogens.
Other foods/chemicals that kill our good bacteria include sugar, HFCS,
tap water (chlorine, fluoride), GMO foods, grains, toxins, and medications. In addition, hormones such as cortisol (due to prolonged emotional stress) can kill our good bacteria.
Ongoing studies continue to explore the potential of probiotics to treat diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, skin infections, and certain cancers.
A report from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine supports the use of probiotics to treat diarrhea and prevent infections of the urinary tract.
Note: Probiotics can also be obtained in supplemental form, but, make sure the supplement is a quality brand, has a CFU count, and a diverse number of probiotic strains. Also, look for strains like bacillus coagulans, saccharomyces boulardii, bacillus subtilis, lactobacillus rhamnosus, and other cultures or formulas that ensure probiotics make it to the gut and are able to colonize.
Spinach | Top Healing Food
Spinach has an amazing array of nutrients, including high amounts of vitamin K, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and iron.
Spinach protects against eye disease and vision loss; it's good for brain function; it guards against colon, prostate, and breast cancers; it protects against heart disease, stroke, and dementia; it lowers blood pressure; it's anti-inflammatory; and it's great for bone health.
A carotenoid found in spinach not only kills prostate cancer cells, it also prevents them from multiplying. Folate promotes vascular health by lowering homocysteine, an amino acid that, at high levels, raises the risk of dementia and cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke.
Folate has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers and to help stop uncontrolled cell growth, one of the primary characteristics of all cancers.
The vitamin C and beta-carotene in spinach protect against colon cancer in addition to fighting inflammation, making them key components of brain health, particularly in older adults.
Spinach is rich in lutein, which protects against age-related macular degeneration, and it may help prevent heart attacks by keeping artery walls clear of cholesterol buildup. Spinach is also loaded with vitamin K, which builds strong bones by helping calcium adhere to the bone.
Spinach is a very versatile green. Use it raw (in your salad), sauteed (in your stir-fry or omelet), or lightly steamed (as a side dish).
Add a handful of fresh spinach to your next fruit smoothie. It'll change the color but not the taste because spinach has a very mild flavor.
Conventionally grown spinach is susceptible to pesticide residue, so stick to organic.
Tomatoes | Top Healing Food
These red fruits, often mistaken for vegetables, are abundant in lycopene, an antioxidant that’s rare in many other foods.
Lycopene is known to protect the body against oxidation that can damage cells, but it also supports good immune function. As such, it has the potential to reduce the risk of wound infection and supports heart health.
Add some tomato slices to your sandwich or salad; or, add tomatoes to your pasta sauce.
Tomatoes are one of the rare foods that provide even more benefits when cooked. Cooking tomatoes helps your body absorb the lycopene and other nutrients within the tomatoes.
Turmeric | Top Healing Food
Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color. It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.
Closely related to ginger and among the most powerful of healing foods, turmeric has similarly been used to treat and prevent illness and disease for thousands of years.
Turmeric contains compounds with medicinal properties called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.
Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.
However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high -- it’s around 3%, by weight.
Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.
Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, then you need to take an extract that contains significant amounts of curcumin.
This orange-hued root vegetable has a more smoky flavor and is found in curries and dishes around the globe. According to GreenMedInfo.com, the root “has been scientifically documented to have over 500 applications in disease prevention and treatment.”
Some of the many benefits of turmeric include:
- Reduced oxidative stress
- Fat loss promoter
- Liver detoxifier
- Heart disease prevention
- Skin tonic
- Diabetes prevention
- Cancer fighter and treatment
- Alzheimer's Disease fighter
Multiple studies have found that turmeric can slow the growth of both pancreatic and breast cancer cells. What’s more, a study published in the journal Cancer Letters has found that curcumin – the active protective compound within turmeric – can strike at the ‘root cause’ of cancerous tumor formation.
To improve absorption, eat turmeric with some fat in your meal because curcumin is fat-soluble. Also, add black pepper, which contains piperine, to help your body absorb the curcumin in the turmeric and attain the most benefits.
Add turmeric to egg salad to give it an even bolder yellow color.
Mix brown rice with cashews and season with turmeric, cumin and coriander.
Turmeric doesn't have to only be used in curries. This spice is delicious on healthy sautéed apples, and healthy steamed cauliflower and/or green beans and onions.
For a creamy, flavor-rich, low-calorie dip, try mixing some turmeric and dried onion with a little omega-3-rich mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Serve with raw cauliflower, celery, sweet pepper, jicama and broccoli florets.
Turmeric is a great spice to complement recipes that feature lentils.
Give salad dressings an orange-yellow hue by adding some turmeric powder to them.
For an especially delicious way to add more turmeric to your healthy way of eating, cut cauliflower florets in half and sauté with a generous spoonful of turmeric for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
Other Top Healing Super Foods
Some of the many other top healing super foods include the following:
- Aloe vera
- Colloidal silver
- Digestive enzymes
- Extra virgin coconut oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fermented foods
- Green tea
- Olive leaf extract
- Pineapple (stem contains bromelain)
- Pine bark extract (Pycnogenol)
- Raw vegetable juices
- Sweet potatoes
- Wild salmon
Repair and Healing of Diabetic's Body
This cannot be emphasized enough: Eating the right healthy foods is key to repairing and healing the damaged cells and tissues in your body. And, eating these foods as part of a synergistic meal plan (i.e. Super Meal Plate Model) is critical to being able to reverse your diabetes.
If your body is unable to repair and heal the cells and tissues that were damaged from the diabetes, then, it will be impossible to reverse your diabetes. Controlling your blood sugar is not enough.
If you want to do more than just control your blood sugar, here is a list of the author's key books for repairing and healing your body:
As depicted in the following diagram, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals are key to the cell repair and healing phases within a diabetic's body.
For more information about the repair and healing phases, refer to the Cell Damage and Repair/Healing web page.
Note: Cell repair and healing start in Stage 1 of the Death to Diabetes Program, but, the majority of the repair and healing occur during Stages 4, 5 and 6.
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Copyright © 2016. Death to Diabetes, LLC. All rights reserved.