Preventing disease and living healthy is a life-long venture. Many Americans spend most of their lives and their income finding ways to “stay healthy.” Most researchers agree that it will take some work on everyone’s part to come up with just the right factors to influence our best health picture. While these may vary slightly from person to person, they are essentially the same.
The three ongoing food-related issues that we all need to consider:
- Should we eat only organically grown foods?
- Does the intake of pure sugar influence a disease process, like, cancer?
- How important is my body weight in influencing disease development?
While these may not normally be questions you ask yourself every day, it is important to consider these as part of your overall plan for selecting good foods to eat.
Organically Grown Foods
There are many reasons why people would prefer to eat organically grown foods with fewer pesticide residues. First of all, eating foods with pesticides could increase instances of certain cancers slightly. However, the overall feeling based on cancer research is that Americans should continue to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whether or not grown conventionally or organically. (i.e. DON’T skip out on those fruits and veggies if organic options aren’t available. It’s better to get some—and do your best to wash off the pesticides—than to not eat them at all!)
If you decide to purchase organically grown foods, information from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) may be helpful, such as their newest publication, “The Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.” Their selection of safe fruits and vegetables has become popular with consumers that use their “dirty dozen plus two” (non-organic fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of pesticides and the “clean fifteen” (non-organic fruits and vegetables with the least amount of pesticides).
The bottom line is to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and beans, whether fresh, frozen, dried, cooked, or canned.
There is a belief that when concentrated sugar is in the body that it will somehow “feed” certain types of disease or cancers. It is more complicated than that. It is true that all cells, even cancer cells, in the body use sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream as fuel. The connection between sugar and cancer is indirect and more complex. Eating a lot of sugar, however, or high-sugar foods may mean more calories in your diet than you need, which can lead to excess weight and body fat. (And remember, not all calories are equal! Make sure you are basing your diet on “quality” calories.)
You can also read my previous post on hidden sugars in cereals and other foods.
It is excess body fat that has convincingly been linked to greater risk of several types of cancer, and it is one of the strongest findings from American Institute for Cancer Research. It is safe to say that replacing excess body fat with lean muscle mass through exercise and proper diet will protect us from many types of cancers and other diseases from establishing a stronghold inside body cells.
Now, as I mentioned above, these three areas should be considered by everyone, but the actual what’s and how’s will vary from person to person and can often be a bit confusing. That’s why I keep an open door and am always available to answer questions. So, feel free to contact me!Schedule a Nutrition Consultation
By Rita Larsen, RD, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor