Across the world, governments are recommending their populations to eat “5 a day” for health – that is, 5 portions of fruit and vegetables.
The European View
The European Prospective Investigation into Nutrition and Cancer (EPIC) is expected to provide definitive information as to the causes of many types of cancer. This study has been collecting data from respondents across the whole of Europe since 1992.
Its results will, no doubt, be similar to those of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France. The preliminary results of this study involving 500,000 people indicate that – you’ve guessed it! – it’s good to eat lots of fruit and vegetables if you want to help avoid cancer. Even better – accompany this with reasonable levels of exercise, and keep to a good weight.
Errr.. isn’t this a case of confirming what naturopaths and many practitioners in natural health have been saying for years?
Yes – but you know governments – they like to see things “proven” by scientists.
At least governments are getting there
The Department of Health in the UK has stated clearly that a third of cancers are diet-related and potentially preventable – by changing diet. In fact, they say that only smoking is more likely, than a bad diet, to encourage cancer.
UK Public Health Minister Yvette Cooper said the “Give me Five” campaign was crucial to improving health.
What are they doing?
Various initiatives have begun in the UK. Free fruit is being organised for UK school children. Dietary recommendations are being placed in employees’ wage slips. And the ‘allotments’ system – whereby UK residents can rent a patch of land on which to grow fruit and vegetables – is being revitalised, after a lull in interest over the past few years.
Supermarket promotions are taking place – Tesco, Britain’s leading supermarket, is linking with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund to promote fruit and veg. This will be promoted in all Tesco’s stores during July 2001. Tesco say they feel this is their civic responsibility. (Stop sniggering all you cynics!)
Not an easy sell to consumers
It will be tough going – current figures show that consumption of these health-giving foods has slumped to a 10 year low.
But the seeds of change are there, hopefully.
Just how popular is fast food?
On average, Americans spend $500 per person per year on fast food; in Britain and in Sweden, the figure is $180; in Italy – just $75! Americans, Swedes and Britons have a long way to go to improve their collective health.
Can “slow food” be the answer…?
Introducing… “slow” food
A growing core of stalwarts, centred around Europe are embracing ‘slow food’ – the opposite of ‘fast food’!
The original movement was a reaction in Italy to the proliferation of McDonald’s stores in Italy. Their aim is to slow life down, and eat slowly and well. They have 65,000 members in 45 countries.
The movement has its administrative centre at the unusually named ‘Bra’ in Italy. To encourage ‘slowing down’ many shops in Bra are closed on Thursdays and Sundays.
Founded in 1989, their approach is to ‘eat local – not global’ and insist that life can slow down, food can stay high in quality – and they can still do well economically. They have figures to prove it!
Mind you, a lot of the profits they are making seem to be from tourists flocking in to see what they are doing!
Which fruit and veg are best?
All the non-starchy (ie not too many potatoes) vegetables and fruits are good. Here is a guide to what you might like to focus on:
The ‘cruciferous’ vegetables are among the best choice here. These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, radishes, turnip and watercress. Lovely!
A diet rich in fibre is great for health – especially helping reduce the chance of colon cancer, and improving the efficiency with which the body removes toxins (poisons – often produced as waste products from body processes) from the system. To increase fibre, just eat lots and lots of salads, with as much variety as possible; choose wholemeal rice and bread; and add beans and lentils to your food – in soups, for example. Also, dried fruit, nuts and seeds provide good levels of fibre.
Natural antibiotics and immune boosters:
Garlic, onions and shallots have powerful anti-biotic activity. In the first World War, garlic was widely used to treat battlefield wounds – as there were no antibiotics. This was very successful.
These are some ideas – but follow the basic rules:
- Aim for 75-80% fruit and non-starchy vegetables in your diet
- Eat as much raw food as possible – cooking reduces the benefits (unless you cannot eat raw fruit or other foods for health reasons)
- Make sure your digestion is working well. Eg drink chamomile tea, peppermint tea, or use Specialist Herbal Supplies Dig 1 Drops for 3 months, or another proprietary digestive aid from your local health food shop
The American government has a national “5 a day” programme whose aim is “to encourage all Americans to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day for better health”:http://www.dole.com/#/superkids/
An interesting description and analysis of about 35 fruits commonly available in the West. This includes detailed nutritional information: www.naturalhub.com/natural_food_guide_fruit_common.htm
Good health! And keep eating those fruits and veggies!