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Proving the Power of Food: William W. Li, M.D. has written an exceptional book on how you can choose foods to support your health and how to Eat to Beat Disease. The good news is that it is full of fabulous information for health nut foodies like me and the bad news is that the book is densely packed and 468 pages long. Yes, I slogged through it - just for you - and you will be pleased to know that I can synopsize it for you in this short newsletter,so you don't have to do the interminable slogging. There are just a few key things and the rest is add on to the main takeaway points.

Dr. Li addresses what he calls the 5 Defense Systems of the body and how to support these very important systems: The first one is Angiogenesis, or the processes for growing and maintaining blood vessels. Angiogenesis can be either excessive or underactive. Excessive is cancer and underactive includes Cardio Vascular Disease, Peripheral Vascular Disease, brain issues, chronic wounds, Erectile Disfunction and alopecia.

Regeneration is Defense System #2, or the process of growing and maintaining organs. Stem cells are in this category. If you recall, stem cells are the "master cell" and are capable of turning into many other kinds of cells. As we age, our stem cells don't renew or replicate themselves as effectively as when we were young whippersnappers of 30.

Defense System #3 is our Microbiome or the healthy balance of bacteria within our bodies. Research is discovering that the gut microbiome is disturbed in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. The gut microbiome loves fiber, fresh foods and not a whole lot of animal products.

Defense System #4 is DNA Protection, including repair and epigenetic changes. Telomeres belong in this category. As you recall, telomeres are tandem repeat DNA sequences (TTAGGG) that form a protective cap at the ends of our chromosomes and are our biological clock, ticking away as our years fly by. And, the length of our telomeres - the longer the better - is dependent on the health of our mitochondria.

Lastly, Defense System #5 is Immunity. It can get a bit tricky here as you can have either an overactive or an underactive immune system. Overactive includes lupus, MS, Hashimoto's. and chronic inflammation. Underactive is you saying "I catch everything that comes down the pike" and this includes viral and bacterial infections.

Dr. Li spends pages and pages on each Defense System which is interesting to a health dork like me, but as I was reading it, I thought, "OK. I need to simplify all of this, so which foods appear in EVERY Defense System category?"

And, finally, here is the gold you have been waiting for. Get out your pen and paper and write this down: The following 4 foods appear in EVERY,or all 5 Defense System categories: Black tea,carrots, dark chocolate and olive oil. The following 4 foods appear in 4 out of the 5 Defense System categories: Arugula, blueberries, broccoli and cranberries. The following 12 foods appear in 3 of the 5 Defense System categories: Apples, cauliflower, chia, halibut, raspberries, sauerkraut, turmeric, radicchio, Jarlsberg and Gouda cheeses and garlic and onions.

If you just write down the 20 foods I have listed above, take the list with you shopping and eat as many of the 20 as you can every week, especially of the 8 foods appearing in categories 4 and 5, then I think you will be set. (If you are in the over or underactive categories in either angiogenesis or immunity, I suggest you buy the book for the subtleties the extra information will provide you.

A warning for your dogs: I was appalled to read recently that I had been giving my beloved rescue, Louie, dangerous doggie kibble. I thought I was giving him the best, but apparently not. Certain kibble brands touted as very good and healthy have been examined and were found to have an increased risk of causing DCM,or Dilated Cardiomyopathy in dogs . I was feeding Louie Taste of the Wild which was #4 (on the list of 16) and had had 53 cases of DCM reported. The worst was Acana at #1 with 67 cases reported and the best of the kibbles was Nutro, with only 10 cases reported. I tossed the Taste of the Wild and found what I considered to be an acceptable brand - Origen - with only 12 cases of DCM reported. It's not the best, but the best I could find.

An exoneration for my love of radishes: A little folklore to start with: It is said that thousands of years ago, the laborers who built the Egyptian pyramids were paid in radishes and that the ancient Greeks offered gold replicas of radishes as a tribute to the god Apollo. (And no, I don't want to be paid in radishes.)

Granted they are one of the healthiest vegetables to eat, but I have no idea why anyone would want to heap such acclaim on the lowly radish. Go figure. Radishes are crucifers and therefore have anti-cancer properties and the isothiocyanates in radishes protect cells from DNA damage and induce apoptosis or cell death in old cells (this is a good thing!). If you have an iffy tummy, radishes are known to prevent gastric distress and lastly, only 12 calories per ½ cup (but who's counting calories anymore?). All that said, I will fight you for the last bunch of radishes at Natural Grocers,so watch out.

Chocolate, the new health food: So, now you can chase your radishes with a couple of pieces of 70% or higher chocolate. Not only is chocolate healthy for your body, but according to the latest research from University College London (8/2/2019) people who eat dark chocolate are less likely to be depressed. Or "...individuals who reported eating any dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had 70% lower odds of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms..." I think that's pretty impressive. I like Lily's darkest myself and my second fave is a very nice vegan chocolate bar from Dr. Mercola.

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