Sometimes it’s better to think about what you can do right, than to list all the things you think you’re doing wrong. 

Here are seven foods that if eaten on a daily basis will change just about every area of your life for the better.  Your body will feel lighter, your mind clearer, your memory sharper.  Your state of well-being will be dramatically enhanced.  In short, you’ll be happier.  And oh yes, you’ll protect yourself against all those nasty illnesses that we’re all terrified of – cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Whole grains.

    Especially recommended are brown rice, barley, millet, and quinoa.

    Whole grains are unbroken and unprocessed.  They’re brown rice, millet, barley, and quinoa – not muffins, bagels, and bread.

    Whole grain improves every organ and function in your body.   They provide abundant quantities of a plant chemical called lignans, which regulate hormones and protect against breast, ovary, and prostate cancers.   Whole grains protect your arteries against atherosclerosis and heart disease, in part by lowering your blood cholesterol level.  (One study, done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that barley lowered cholesterol 17.4 percent.)

    Whole grains cleanse and heal your intestines and protect against colon cancer.  They contain substances that signal aberrant cells to initiate programmed cell death, or apoptosis.   They boost serotonin in your brain, giving you greater feelings of well-being, safety, confidence, better concentration, and deeper sleep.

    Adults who eat whole grains on a daily basis are leaner than those who avoid grains.  They also suffer far lower rates of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

    Meditate for a few minutes on whole grain, such as brown rice, barley, millet, or quinoa.   Think about all the sun, rain, wind, and all the elements of the soil captured in this most complete of all foods.  Think about the fact that a bag of brown rice can sit in your basement for 25 years – better yet, 50 years — and it still will be both edible when cooked, and capable of germinating into a plant when placed in the soil.  Try that with a loaf of “whole grain” bread.  Keep a loaf of bread in your basement for 25 days and you’ll be a little bit put off by all that green stuff growing on it.   Don’t bother planting it.

    Whole grain is a kind of special matrix in which all the vital elements and life energies are held in an integrated state of balance for decades.   It does exactly that in your body, too.  Grain integrates body, mind, and spirit.  It makes you like it – whole.

    Boil your grains.  Add condiments that you like, such as kimchi, sesame seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  Eat at least two servings per day. 

  1. Vegetables.  Everybody thinks vegetables are boring.  Well, yeah… But they’re also the all-stars of the health foods.

    They’re nature’s secret weapon against disease – all diseases, including cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, cataracts, osteoporosis, and depressed immunity.          

    Here are a few recommendations.

    Eat three or four servings a day of green and leafy.  Serving size doesn’t matter.  If you go back for seconds, you’ve had two servings.  If you put collard greens or kale or watercress in soup, you’ve had a serving.

    Eat two servings of round and sweet vegetables a day – any of the following: squash, onion, rutabaga, turnips, carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, beets, corn, and asparagus.

    Eat one or two servings of roots per day, including carrots, parsnips, burdock, and daikon.      

    Vegetables are among the greatest health promoters in the food supply.  Broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts, collard, and mustard greens contain a group of compounds, called indoles, which may prevent tumor-causing estrogen from targeting the breast.  In animal studies, they’ve been shown to switch on enzymes that prevent exposure to carcinogens.  These vegetables also contain another cancer-fighter, called sulforanphane.  Sulforanphane has been called a “major and very potent” trigger for detoxifying tissues and blood and for promoting production of cancer-preventive enzymes.  (Procedures of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 89, March 1992.)

    When researchers compared two groups of women — one with breast cancer and another group without the disease — they found that those who did not contract the illness ate significantly more vegetables, fruits, and fiber.  

    Researchers at the State University of New York compared the eating habits of 310 women with breast cancer with 316 women free of the illness.  The difference in their eating patterns, said the researchers, was that the women who did not get cancer ate diets richer in fiber, folic acid, carotenoids, and vitamin C – all derived from their increased intake of vegetables and fruit.   

  1. Miso.

    Make vegetables soups and put miso paste in the soup.  It’s easy and delicious.  Miso is one of the great alkalizers, immune boosters, and cancer fighters in the food supply.

    In April 1993, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (vol. 90, pp. 2690-2994) reported the remarkable finding that scientists had isolated a substance in miso that effective blocks blood flow to tumors, thus starving them from the essentials of life.   The scientists called the substance “genistein.”   What it does is block blood vessels from attaching to tumors, a process known as angiogenisis.   Cancer cells and tumors, like all other cells and tissues in the body, need oxygen and nutrition to survive.  In order for them to get both, they need blood.   Thus, cancer is sustained within the body by blood vessels that grow to the cells and support their life.  The genistein in miso soup blocks blood vessels from attaching to the cancer cells, and thus suffocating and killing tumors.  

    This is just the beginning, however.  There’s an old Japanese saying: “Miso strengthens the weak and softens the hard.”   It tonifies and restores the vitality to organs that are sick and lethargic, while it softens and breaks up stagnation, cysts, and tumors.

    Finally, miso is rich in health promoting bacteria, which we need to digest and assimilate our food.  (See below.)

  1. Nuts and Seeds.

    Researchers have found that people who eat nuts and seeds regularly are leaner than those who abstain.  They’re also happier and more satisfied with their diets – and they don’t overeat!

    Eat a handful of nuts and seeds four or five times a week.  You’ll find that they are highly satisfying and filling.  Moreover, you’ll discover that the fulfill cravings that would otherwise make you crazy, especially at night.

    Nuts lower cholesterol, provide essential fatty acids, including omega-3 fats, and are rich sources of vitamin E.  They boost immunity and add selenium – a powerful cancer fighter – to your diet.  They’re also rich in antioxidants.    I especially recommend walnuts, almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, and flax seeds.  

    Researchers at George Mason University found that pistachios lowered LDL cholesterol and regulated blood sugar, thus lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. 

  1. Fruit.

    Loaded with antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber, fruit is cleansing, eliminative, and immune boosting.

    Ironically, most adults avoid fruit.  But let’s do an experiment.  Eat an apple during lunch, or in the car on your way home from work, and see what effects it has on your state of mind.  Many people find that when they eat an apple, they are immediately put in touch with their higher self.  They awaken that part of the brain that encourages them to take better care of their health.

    Most adults have trouble eating fruit.  Yet, it is among the most cleansing, eliminative and health supporting foods in the food supply.   A couple of caveats: fruit helps eliminate waste from the tissues and organs.  Consequently, too much fruit will cause you to dump excess waste into the blood stream and cause your lymph nodes to swell.   A piece of fruit four or five times a week is plenty – and plenty good for you.  Second, eat fruit that will grow in your climate.  Don’t eat too many fruits that grow in tropical areas, unless you live there.

  1. Sauerkraut and other fermented foods.

    We’re having great trouble digesting our food.  One of the reasons – we’re killing all those friendly little beings that live in our intestines.   We need those friendly flora in our gut in order to be healthy, strong, and vital.  Here are just a few of the things that good bacteria do for us.

    For starters, they help us breakdown and assimilate the nutrients in our food, thus making it possible for us to be optimally nourished.  Without these little critters, you can eat a nutritionally-rich diet and still not get all the nutrients you need.

    Good bacteria, otherwise known as probiotics, help manufacture B vitamins, such as biotin, niacin (B3), folic acid, and pyridoxine (B6).  They produce antibacterial substances that kill disease-causing bacteria.  They also regulate the acid-alkaline balance in your intestines.  By helping to make the intestines more alkaline, they produce an environment that kills harmful bacteria that would otherwise lead to disease, including candidiasis, vaginal yeast infections, and other infections that originate or proliferate in the gut.

    Probiotics improve liver function, intestinal transit time, and protect against constipation and other disorders of the digestive tract.

    Probiotics also help to regulate hormone balance.  Without the friendly bugs, the unfriendlies take over.  These produce estrogen-like substances that throw off hormonal balance and make us more susceptible to breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.

    How can we get adequate amounts of these little friends?  Eat fermented foods daily.  Among the most important are as follows: Miso, tamari, shoyu, natto, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and tempeh.   Whole grains, especially brown rice, barley, and oats provide the pre-biotics that help pro-biotics flourish.

    My recommendation is to eat a tablespoon size serving of sauerkraut four or five times a week, and then eat two or three slices of pickles (dill pickles will do) on the other days.  Eat miso soup four or five times a week.  Eat noodles and vegetables in tamari broth. 

  1. Tea. Green, black, and bancha.  

    Tea is antioxidant and polyphenol soup.  It is among the most immune boosting and cancer- and inflammation-fighting foods you can consume.   Tea slows aging, protects your heart, fights cancer, and promotes healing throughout the body.  

    “Green tea is one of the most powerful food sources for chemoprevention, healing, and antioxidants,” said Stephen Hsu, Ph.D., a cell biologist at the Medical College of Georgia.  Scientists have known for decades that those who drink green tea regularly have much lower rates of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, and many other serious illnesses.  “Now we are starting to understand what green tea is doing to create better health,” said Dr. Hsu (pronounced “Shu”).

    Green tea contains perhaps the most powerful antioxidant in the food supply, ECGC.  Researchers are finding that this substance speeds up healing, especially the skin, and initiates apoptosis in cancer cells.  It cools inflammation and boosts the immune system.  

    The three teas that I recommend are green tea, black tea, and bancha (or kukicha tea).  The latter tea is leaf or twig from the Japanese tea bush.  Bancha and kukicha are highly alkalizing and exceptionally low in caffeine.  Most teas contain about 45 milligrams of caffeine per cup, depending on how long it is brewed.   Bancha contains minute quantities of caffeine, in many cases less than 10 mg. per cup.

    There’s nothing like a good cup of tea to put the world right, even when it’s going crazy out there.  Have several cups of green, black, or bancha tea a day.  It will do your body, mind, and spirit good.