Diet and nutrition are powerful healers in Traditional Chinese Medicine and in many other Eastern traditions. The new science of functional food studies the healing and regenerative power of whole foods, which contain powerful compounds and antioxidants that help prevent disease and improve organ function. I strong believe that if we commit to eating healthy, natural foods, we can positively thrive with health and longevity!
Healing, Anti-Aging Foods
For thousands of years, humans treated their bodies as personal laboratories to discover which foods were therapeutic and which were poisonous. Overtime, patterns emerged and were combined into longstanding principles governing healthy diet and nutrition. All whole, unprocessed foods from the earth – fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and legumes, nus and seeds – possess rich, healing properties.
Take just one example: cranberries. Cranberries are antioxidant-rich and have been traditionally used in the prevention and treatment of urinary tract issues. While perceptive and health-conscious humans have recognized this truth for centuries, studies now show that cranberries contain hippuric acid, which inhibits the growth and attachment of various strains of bacteria to the bladder.
The centenarians I have come to know almost entirely avoid foods that include sugar, sodium, dairy, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods, as well as processed and pre-packaged convenience foods. These foods have very little nutrient power or health benefits to offer, except for an intensely unnatural flavor that we have grown accustomed to craving.
It is a common misconception that healthy foods lack flavor. Indeed, unprocessed foods offer many more complex and delightful flavors that a bag of salty chips or package of sugary cookies. Imagine the aroma and taste of a fresh tomato, a bunch of garden-grown basil, or the sweet juiciness of a perfectly ripe peach. If you gently ease yourself through the transition to more natural foods, your taste buds will adjust and become more finely tuned to taste far more exciting flavors.
Get To Know Your Food
Shopping for longevity starts with knowing where your food comes from and what it specifically contains. The only way to protect your health and preserve your longevity is to do your due diligence: research where your food is coming from, how it is produced, and how it is transported. Have a chat with the fishmonger or the attendant at the farmer’s stand; you will learn a wealth of information about your food!
You have the most control of what you feed your body by cooking wholesome, nutritious recipes in your own kitchen. Of course, this practice is ideal, but sometimes you will find yourself in a restaurant or at a friend’s home for dinner. If you are constantly agonizing over how the food was produced or sourced, you will drive yourself crazy and upset your digestion. Control what you can control by preparing the majority of your meals at home. The rest of the time, just relax and enjoy the company of good friends and family!
Meat: Make Smart Choices
I believe that Americans should stop thinking of meat as the sole centerpiece of the meal. This is not to say that you shouldn’t eat meat at all, but rather that meat doesn’t need to be in the oversize portions that we have come to expect, and it does not need to be in every meal we consume. Try eating meat only three or four days a week, in four to five ounce portions – approximately the size of a deck of cards. Choose free-range, grass-fed, and hormone and antibiotic free meat, which is much healthier for both you and the planet. You will see in my “Secrets of Longevity Cookbook” that I almost always use fish and poultry, mostly steering away from fatty red meat.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com.