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What’s the Best Diet for Chronic Illness?

What’s the Best Diet for Chronic Illness?

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The healthiest diet for those who have chronic illness should be able to pass muster if analyzed for these four factors:

  1. Nutrient density
  2. Alkaline for body chemistry, not acidic.
  3. Anti-inflammatory
  4. A diet that promotes a healthy weight

Although this also applies to the general population, those with medical conditions need to be aware that these factors may impact their chronic condition.

Let’s take these four factors one at a time.

1. Nutrient Density
Nutrient density simply means you’re eating foods that have a generous supply of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and proteins. An unprocessed diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and good protein sources (which will contain some fat) is key to eating a nutrient-dense diet.

A diet high in processed foods has too much sugar and unhealthy oils and fats, with little or no healthy proteins and lacking vitamins and minerals. This may lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients, which only worsens chronic disease.

Include these nutrient-dense foods in your diet:

  • Broccoli is a high-fiber, high vitamin C food with vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and potassium.
  • Blueberries are anti-inflammatory due to their content of flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannins.
  • Bell peppers contain quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory/antioxidant nutrient.
  • Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant herb because of its content of curcumin.
  • Olive oil — use extra-virgin, cold-pressed, unrefined olive oil containing oleocanthal, a natural anti-inflammatory substance.
  • Green tea contains EGCG, a strong antioxidant that studies show may help prevent cellular damage, improve cardiovascular health, and perhaps prevent cancers.
  • Salmon, tuna, sardines, and other fatty fish contain rich amounts of omega-3 and vitamin D.

2. The Alkaline Diet
The average American’s diet is excessive in foods that cause the body chemistry to be more acidic, which promotes chronic disease. A diet containing more foods that combat acidity and encourage a more alkaline body chemistry is beneficial. 60–70% of all the foods ingested should be alkalinizing.

Keep the following alkaline foods in mind:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Broccoli, mustard greens, sprouts, garlic, kale, endives, nectarines, tangerines, raspberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, olives, and citrus fruits.
  • Alkalizing beverages: Mineral water, green tea.
  • Nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, almonds
  • Spices: Pepper, ginger
  • Lentils, yams, onion, daikon radishes
  • Low-acid protein sources: Choose lower-acid proteins (e.g, goat/sheep cheese, yogurt, eggs, and fish) vs. those that are highly acidic (ice cream, processed cheeses, beef, and pork).

3. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
This diet calls for the removal of all foods that cause an underlying inflammatory reaction, which exacerbates chronic disease. These need to be tested via cellular reactivity testing, not antibody testing. Reactions from food sensitivities are not the same as “allergy” reactions tested for with IgE antibody tests, most appropriate for the reactions that occur with the type of allergic response that show immediate onset symptoms. A person could be testing negative for such IgE testing, yet they may be eating inflammatory foods. This information can be uncovered by cellular testing in an appropriate lab.

4. Weight Control
A healthy diet for anyone with chronic disease must consider the effect on a person’s body weight. Extra weight on those with a chronic health condition will only exacerbate their condition. This taxes the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, which have to struggle with carrying that extra weight. Excess body weight will also specifically hinder any attempt to control diabetes and high blood pressure.

The basic rule to be followed for weight control is to avoid excess simple carbohydrates—sugars in all forms, breads, baked goods, pasta, alcohol, and sugary drinks and candies. If a person eats a high-produce, nutrient-dense diet, it will naturally lead to better weight control.

Dr. Henry C. Sobo, MD, has a practice in Stamford, CT. He can be reached at 203.348.8805. More information is available at: www.drsobo.com.