Eating for a Vibrant and Healthy Life by Dr. William Li

From the book EAT TO BEAT DISEASE  by Dr. William Li

Everyone wants to remain vibrant and live as long as they can with a high quality of life. If your goal is to stay healthy, and especially if you are going through a disease, you want reliable information based on science and fact, as well as actionable steps that you can take right away to improve your situation. 

There is no “silver bullet” for any one disease or for overall health and longevity. No single factor in our life is going to prevent sickness. But there is a way to boost our own defense systems, so the body will heal itself. 

If your goal is to extend the number of healthy years you have ahead, your food choices can tip the odds in your favor. By boosting your defense systems and keeping them in good shape, you’ll have a better shot at beating back disease and extending not just the length but also the quality of your life.

The decisions you make about food every day throughout your lifetime offer perfect opportunities for you to stay healthy while enjoying life. Combined with regular exercise, good quality sleep, stress management, positive thinking and strong social bonds, your diet can help you realize your full health potential. 

Preventing Damage to Your DNA 

Our DNA is our genetic blueprint, but it is also designed to be one of our body’s primary defense systems. It has surprising repair mechanisms that protect us against damage caused by solar radiation, household chemicals, stress, compromised sleep, and poor diet, among other insults. Not only can certain foods prompt DNA to fix itself, but some foods turn on helpful genes and turn off harmful ones, while other foods lengthen our telomeres, which protect DNA and slow cellular aging.

Kiwifruit can protect us from DNA damage. Kiwi contains high levels of vitamin C, chlorogenic acid, and quinic acid that each have antioxidant effects. Researchers at the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland examined kiwifruit’s ability to reduce DNA damage. The results showed that eating kiwifruit, regardless of the number of fruits, could reduce DNA damage by approximately 60 percent. When the researchers looked more closely at the DNA, they found that eating three fruits per day actually increased DNA repair activity by 66 percent. So, eating kiwifruit not only neutralizes free radicals, but it also increases the repair rate of any DNA that has been damaged to get it back into shape.

Regenerating Your Health 

Powered by more than 750,000 stem cells distributed throughout our bone marrow, lungs, liver, and almost all of our organs, our body regenerates itself every day. These stem cells maintain, repair, and regenerate our bodies throughout our lives. 

Dark chocolate is just one of the foods that is being revealed to increase our body’s regenerative power. Dark chocolate is a stem cell–recruiting food because of the bioactives it contains called flavanols. 

Foods that mobilize stem cells help counteract and prevent the organ damage that inevitably develops with aging. Stem cells can also help reverse the ravages of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, smoking, high cholesterol, and obesity. The stem cells in bone marrow, skin, the heart, and other organs can be called into action by what and how we eat. Eating regenerative foods makes you more fit from the inside out keeps rebuilding your organs so they are in their best possible shape.

Fostering Longevity 

We all want to live long healthy lives and avoid diseases of aging including cancer. Research shows one of the best ways to enhance longevity is with caloric restriction. 

It’s become well known that caloric restriction, defined as reducing intake of calories by 20–40 percent, can increase longevity and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Beyond its anti-aging and weight loss benefits, caloric restriction is beneficial because it activates all five of your health defense systems. Here’s one easy way to intake caloric restriction: skip breakfast or lunch a few days each week.

Like anything related to diet, extreme measures usually lead to short-term gains but may have long-term consequences for your health. Keep it reasonable if you skip any meals.


Excerpted from EAT TO BEAT DISEASE: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself. Copyright © 2019 by William W. Li, MD. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
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Illustration Ines Galvis