The 2011 Report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that 25 million Americans have diabetes. That is a 700 percent increase from 50 years ago. More than 40 percent of adult Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. Dr. Joel Fuhrman says this is a public health humiliation. We are becoming the “United States of Diabetes.” And to put insult to injury, 80% of adults with diabetes die of heart attacks and strokes because the excessive insulin in the body accelerates the hardening of the arteries. Physicians are desperately trying to help people with diabetes using drugs and medications and insulin injections. However diabetes is a diet related disease. Diet causes it and diet and exercise can turn it around. The more healthy foods we eat, the better we feel. The better we feel, the more we feel like exercising. No matter how you look at it….diet is the essential ingredient for reversing diabetes.
Americans weren’t always as unhealthy as we are today. How do we eat differently now then we ate 50 years ago? We consume way more fast food, refined sugar and grains, oil and salt, lots more meat and dairy. We also eat very few fruits and vegetables compared to our grandparents. We are also eating some genetically modified foods with very different proteins.
Of the many thousands of edible plants on our planet, only about 150 of them are actively cultivated, either directly for human food or as feed for the animals we eat. Today, 90% of the plants we consume come from only 20 species. If you eat a lot of processed food and fast food, corn will be the main vegetable in your diet, and perhaps the only vegetable for some people. Most of that corn will be genetically modified. All high fructose corn syrup is from genetically modified plants. How can we turn it around? We must become more concerned with the variety of our diet.
What is the science of nutritional variety? In one study researchers from the University of Colorado divided 106 women into two groups and placed them on different diets. Both groups consumed 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, but one group ate 18 different varieties of fruits and vegetables during the week, while the other ate only five varieties. Blood tests taken after two weeks revealed that while both groups showed a reduction in lipid peroxidation (due to increased antioxidant intake), only the wide-variety group exhibited a reduction of DNA damage caused by free radicals. That means that these women had less of a chance of developing cancer during this time period.
Another study, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, showed a 30% lower death rate over five and a half years within a population of 42,000 women among those whose healthy food variety in the diet was higher.
A balanced, healthful diet increases the likelihood that you'll get enough carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. For instance, people who eat a variety of foods are more likely to get enough vitamin C in their diets, according to a 1997 study published in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association." Fruit and vegetable consumption is especially important for frail, elderly people, according to a 2002 study published in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association." Fruits and vegetables are especially rich in fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A 1987 study in the Dietetic Association journal found that eating more kinds of foods is linked to decreased consumption of salt, sugar and saturated fat. Excess salt, sugar and saturated fat are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. A history of cancer, especially gastrointenstinal cancer, is associated with limited diets, according to the 2002 study in the Dietetic Association journal.
In the USA in the past 40 years, many vegetables and fruits have disappeared from our diets and the trend is going on all over the world. More and more people, will be fed by fewer and fewer varieties of plants. Half of our food comes from only four plant species: rice, maize (corn), wheat, and potatoes.
Recently I sat down and made a list of all the plant foods that I eat. I’m sure that I have left a few off of the list, but I was delighted to see that I have eaten well over a hundred different kinds of plants. Physicians can identify some eating disorders by how many plants a person consumes. Less than 20 plants can be considered an eating disorder. I interviewed some of my most finicky grandchildren and found that even they eat more than 20 plant foods. I’ve decided to post my list (with a few addends that are on my list to try) and let you decide how healthy you eat. Remember that we should be eating 5-7 vegetables, and 3-5 fruits a day. They should always include dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, beans, berries, onions, and whole grains. According to many scientists and nutritional specialists, eating a variety of foods helps us to cover all the bases nutritionally. If you love feeling healthy and living a full life, then you must include a wide variety of plants on a weekly basis to get the range of phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals that you need for a healthy body. Don't forget to find foods that are locally and organically grown as often as you can.
Count up your food diversity: How many of these foods have you eaten?
Grains: wheat, rice, millet, barley, quinoa, oatmeal, rye, sorghum, amaranth, tapioca, buckwheat.
Nuts and seeds: hazel nuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, anise seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds or pepitas, apricot seeds, filberts, walnuts.
Greens: spinach, all varieties of lettuce, watercress, arugula, bok choy, parsley, seaweed, cilantro, kale, chard, spinach, beet greens, chicory, endive, radicchio, summer, purslane, mizuna greens, komatsuna greens, oriental mustard, kohlrabi.
Beans and lentils: Green beans, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, pink-eye beans, lima beans, adzuki beans, green lentils, red lentils, edamame or soy beans.
Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, green and red cabbage, cardoons, cauliflower, celeriac, chili peppers, chinese cabbage, corn, cucumbers, celery, eggplant, fennel, jicama, leeks, mushrooms, onions, shallots, peas, parsnips, pumpkin, radishes, cauliflower, rhubarb, tomatoes, tomatillos, zucchini, zucchini flowers, crookneck squash, butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, summer squash, winter squash, waterchestnuts, bamboo shoots, sugarcane (for sugar).
Fruit: apples, bananas, pears, dates, figs, grapefruit, guanabana, Kiwi, lemons, oranges, mangoes, limes, pineapple, pomegranates, avocados, mulberries, apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, mandarins, watermelon, cantaloupe, casaba melon, honeydew, plums, coconut, olives.
Berries and vine fruits: blueberries, raspberries, loganberries, blackberries, strawberries, boysenberries, tayberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, cranberries.
Roots and Tubers: carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, radishes, Jerusalem artichokes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, ginger, garlic, horseradish.
Herbs and spices: peppercorns, cumin seeds, cloves, paprika, rosemary, basil, thyme, savory, sage, dill, chives, oregano, tarragon, mint, marjoram, sorrel, sweet violet, parsley, chervil, borage, angelica, marigold, turmeric, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom.