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Most people define health as the absence of disease. Many think, “If I don’t feel sick, I’m healthy. But this kind of thinking suggests that our health is passively waiting for something to go wrong; it’s not. Our health is an active 24/7 state, “protected by a series of hard-wired defense systems in the body that work at full capacity, keeping our cells and organs functioning properly,” says William W. Li, MD, scientist-physician and author of Eat to beat disease: the new science of how your body heals itself.

These defense systems support each other and interact to intercept disease before it takes hold. They form a fortress surrounding your health and mobilize the cells that heal you from within.

Each of these defense systems is influenced by diet, which means you are responsible. “When you know what to eat to support every health defense, you know how to use your diet to stay healthy and beat disease,” says Li, president of The Angiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on the fight against the disease by angiogenesis. , the process the body uses to develop new blood vessels.

Dr. Li identifies the five defense systems such as angiogenesis, regeneration, microbiome, DNA production and immunity. Read on to learn how to eat to strengthen each one so that your body can better prevent disease and live a longer, healthier life, and to learn more about how to eat healthy, find out how to walk as many steps every day can. help you. You live longer.

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To live a longer, disease-free life, your body must maintain a balance between being able to form new blood vessels (which is essential for healing wounds and restoring the blood supply for the treatment of cardiovascular disease) and keep this cell growth under control, otherwise you increase your risk of cancer and other diseases.

Although the process of dividing and sprouting new blood vessels, known as angiogenesis, is completely natural, it can have a negative effect by fueling the growth of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, l obesity and diabetes-related vision loss. Dr Li’s mentor, Harvard scientist Judah Folkman, came up with the idea that you could starve tumors by targeting the abnormal blood vessels that feed them. “The goal of an angio-preventive regimen is to keep the body’s angiogenesis defense system in a healthy state of balance,” says Dr. Li.

In his book, Li says that some of the the most effective foods to improve your body’s ability to starve cancer and maintain angiogenesis balance are soy, black raspberries, tomatoes, tea, pomegranate and even liquorice, beer and cheese. There is growing evidence for the potency of these foods, says Li. “People in Asia who consume a lot of soy, vegetables and tea have a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer and breast cancer. other cancers. “

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fish and flavonoids
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Stem cells reside throughout our body, in our organs, bone marrow, lungs, liver and intestine. Their job is to maintain, repair and regenerate our tissues, and what we eat can affect their performance.

One of the most powerful regenerating foods is oily fishLi writes. He cites research from the University of Montreal showing that a diet rich in fish oil increases the production of stem cells that are linked to better circulation in oxygen-deprived muscles. Other foods that stimulate regeneration include dark chocolate rich in flavonoids, black tea, beer, red wine, mangoes, and olive oil.

RELATED: Surprising Side Effects of Taking Fish Oil Supplements After 50

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The genetic code of our DNA may be set in stone, but that doesn’t mean it’s immutable. Throughout our lives, our DNA can be damaged by environmental factors such as free radicals or by the natural aging process, which shortens the tips of our chromosomes called “telomeres”. The good news is that “some foods can cause DNA to repair itself while some foods turn on useful genes and turn off harmful genes,” says Li.

To live longer and healthier you are going to want to fill up on foods that repair and maintain your DNA health.

The foods that support robust DNA repair and slow cell aging are those rich in nutrients with antioxidant properties like vitamins A, C, D, E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and selenium. To refuel, stock up on spinach, kale and other leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, oranges, berries, red peppers, lentils, white beans, eggs, sardines, almonds, flax seeds, seeds pumpkin, coffee, tea, soy and spices like turmeric.

olive oil, nuts and peppers
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Every disease is in one way or another related to your immune system. In some cases, the immune response is weak and it cannot fight infections effectively. In other cases, the immune system goes into chronic overdrive, causing inflammation and often damaging healthy tissue.

Eating the right foods on a regular basis can both reduce inflammation and boost a weakened immune system, helping you stay healthy longer. To strengthen your immune system, eat anti-inflammatory foods such as olive oil, cranberry juice, broccoli sprouts, Concord grape juice, black raspberries, walnuts, licorice root, blueberries, black raspberries and chili peppers.

RELATED: Best Supplement To Boost Your Immunity, Dietitians Say

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Another surprising way to support the body’s disease fighting immune system is to pay attention to the gut.

Bacteria that are beneficial to our gut health, known as the microbiome, play an important role in controlling our immune system. To improve our internal ecosystem, it’s important to both add foods that support the microbiome to our diet and remove foods that disrupt the balance of a healthy microbiome, such as refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.

Some of the best drinks for a healthy balance include black tea, oolong tea, and green tea, which “can increase good bacteria and decrease bad bacteria.” Other foods that are good for your gut include kiwis, sourdough and pumpernickel bread, dark chocolate, high-fiber beans, and fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir.

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