- In challenging times, it’s important to protect both your health and wealth.
- Today, Alexander Green shares a surefire way to boost your immunity: a healthy diet.
Over the last two decades, I’ve written many columns about how to protect your wealth through asset allocation, diversification, trailing stops, lower investment costs and greater tax efficiency.
Today I want to talk about protecting something far more important: your health.
Data out of Italy and China reveals that older men and women with COVID-19 have far higher mortality rates than younger ones.
For folks over 60, it’s almost 5%. For those over 70, it’s 10%. And for those over 80, it’s an alarming 18%.
As we grow older, our immune systems become overwhelmed, exhausted, depleted.
It’s the same reason we see increased cancer rates as we age.
Since no one is immune to the coronavirus, there is no successful treatment yet and we are at least a year away from a vaccine, the best thing you can do right now is to fortify your immune system.
How? Researchers recommend reduced stress, regular exercise, restful sleep and reduced alcohol consumption.
But there is another important step you should take, one that nutritional expert and practicing physician Dr. Joel Fuhrman insists will lead to “super immunity.”
He calls it the nutritarian diet. And if you’ve never heard of it, it’s because there is absolutely nothing faddish about it.
Science provides us with overwhelming evidence that eating the right combination of foods can double or even triple the protective power of your immune system.
This can dramatically lower your risk of getting everything from the flu to COVID-19 to some forms of cancer.
In recent years, the evidence has grown that the noncaloric micronutrients in our food are vital to providing disease resistance and greater longevity.
Researchers have discovered hundreds of phytochemicals – micronutrients found in plants – that evolved to help them ward off disease in the wild. Our species survived by consuming large quantities of these plants.
In short, our chemistry is dependent on their chemistry.
Yet only in the last decade have scientists begun to understand how plants protect our health by boosting our immune systems.
Today’s Western diet is so rich in processed foods and animal products – and so low in essential fruits and vegetables – that almost all Americans are deficient in plant-derived phytochemicals.
Studies show that most of us consume less than 10% of our calories from the most nutritious foods: fruits, vegetables, beans and seeds.
Yet even this figure is misleading, because if you remove white potato products – including French fries and chips – vegetables make up less than 5% of our diet.
Instead of eating healthy, natural foods, Americans are gorging on processed foods: white bread, bagels, donuts, cold cereals, chips, pretzels, pasta, cookies, breakfast bars and soft drinks.
A diet deficient in phytochemicals weakens your immune system. But nutrition science tells us how to combat this:
- A review of more than 200 epidemiological studies shows that eating raw green vegetables has a consistent and powerful association with a reduction of stomach, pancreas, colon and breast cancer. (As one researcher put it, “You want to know the real secret to superior health? Big-ass salads.”)
- People with the highest amounts of lycopene – which is an antioxidant found in tomatoes – in their blood are 55% less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest levels.
- Twenty-eight servings of vegetables per week decrease prostate cancer risk by 33%. But just three servings of cruciferous vegetables each week – kale, collards, broccoli or Brussels sprouts – decrease prostate cancer risk by 41%.
- One or more servings of cabbage per week reduce the occurrence of pancreatic cancer by 38%.
- White, cremini, portobello, oyster, maitake and reishi mushrooms prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth and prevent tumors from acquiring a blood supply. Frequent consumption of mushrooms can decrease the incidence of breast cancer by as much as 70%.
- People who eat a half-cup of chopped onions a day may not have the freshest breath. But studies show they have a 56% reduction in colon cancer, a 73% reduction in ovarian cancer, a 71% reduction in prostate cancer, a 50% reduction in stomach cancer and an 88% reduction in esophageal cancer.
- Many types of berries are rich in antioxidants, but elderberries also enhance the body’s defense against viral infections, particularly influenza.
- Nuts and seeds are high in fat and calories but have been demonstrated in hundreds of medical studies to dramatically extend life and protect against disease. Indeed, as nut consumption increases, death from all causes decreases while overall life span increases.
It is hardly breaking news that plant-based, whole foods are good for you.
Yet Fuhrman doesn’t just recommend that you eat more of them.
To achieve maximum immunity and longevity, he suggests you make fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts your primary diet.
Other foods – such as whole grains, eggs, meat, fish and fat-free dairy – should make up less than 20% of your total intake.
Fuhrman’s experience treating over 10,000 patients using micronutrient-rich diets has demonstrated extraordinary therapeutic results over a wide range of serious health conditions.
He recommends that each day you should have…
- At least one large salad
- At least a half-cup serving of beans (perhaps in a soup, salad or other dish)
- At least three fresh fruits, especially berries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, plums and oranges
- At least 1 ounce of raw nuts and seeds
- At least one large (double size) serving of green vegetables, raw or steamed
- Other healthy choices include citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger, turmeric and green tea.
I should warn you, however, of one “serious” side effect. Folks on a nutritarian diet tend to move rapidly toward their ideal weight.
(Sorry, you’ll just have to live with that.)
Fuhrman’s approach is about harnessing the power of superior nutrition to preserve, protect and extend your life.
Isn’t it good to know that one of the best things you can do to improve your health is under your own control and doesn’t require a doctor visit, a diagnostic test or another prescription?
A natural diet rich in micronutrients and antioxidants is a key to repairing immune system defects that may lead to disease.
This information isn’t just important. In times like these, it can be lifesaving.
P.S. To learn more about super immunity, check out Fuhrman’s book Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free.