We all know the importance of eating healthy foods for their vitamin and mineral content. However, in recent years, scientists have discovered that there are hundreds of substances in food that have healing and disease prevention properties.
So why, if there are foods that will heal many of our common ailments, have we not heard more about them? Maybe it’s because, just as we’ve become a fast food society, we’ve also become a fast cure society. We’re always looking for the easy way to cure and prevent diseases by just popping a pill.
Just look at the increasing number of ads on TV and in magazines for drugs. Often the side effects are worse than the disease they’re meant to prevent or cure!
Perhaps as a child you were told by your mom to eat all your carrots because they were good for your eyes? As you grew up, you may have cynically been told by others that this was just an “old wives tale”. Guess what, recent studies have shown that Mom was right! Foods can prevent eye disease, heart disease, arthritis and much more.
Some Basic Science:
In recent years, scientists have discovered that foods contain “phytochemicals”, which is a fancy name for naturally occurring chemicals. This is not the same as nutrients, which we all know are the substances necessary for sustaining life.
Phytochemicals have properties that can aid in disease prevention and cures. Scientists have identified thousands of these chemicals in the foods we eat and a single serving of fruit or vegetables can contain as many as one hundred different phytochemicals.
The most commonly known phytochemicals are the antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our cells from damage by toxic substances and free radicals (a byproduct produced by our bodies which converts oxygen into energy). Free radicals can damage cells in our bodies which can lead to disease. Antioxidants protect the body from oxidation and reduce the risk of acquiring many common ailments.