"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" - wise words from the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates. The truth is, we would all benefit if we started eating for our health rather than just eating what's around us at the time.
By being conscious of what we eat and making decisions about food based on health and well-being, we tap into the ultimate purpose of food: our survival. What's more, if we choose wisely, we thrive, individually and collectively.
Numerous studies demonstrate food's power to protect us from - and in some cases, even to cure - disease, and there is a strong correlation between eating naturally healthy foods and living a long, healthy life. The Blue Zone research, which found that eating a diet rich in locally grown (rather than processed) foods is the secret to longevity, is an excellent example of this.
Recognising the power we have to protect ourselves from disease is encouraging, but the information about what we should and should not be eating can be confusing.
Luckily, two issues get to the core of our well-being: pH balance and immune system. By paying attention to these powerful protectors of health, we can be thriving in no time.
Restore your pH balance
Our pH balance is a delicate matter that can mean the difference between life and death, wellness and disease. In fact, pH balance is at the root of cellular health.
"Every single person who has cancer has a pH that is too acidic," said the Nobel Prize-winner Dr Otto Warburg. His work proved that cancer can't survive in an alkaline, oxygen-rich environment but that it thrives in an acidic, low-oxygen environment.
Bacteria, disease, fungi and parasites all flourish in acidic environments but cannot do so in alkali. This knowledge revolutionises the way we can safeguard our health and suggests that keeping our pH balance in place is the most powerful thing we can do to protect against disease. Dr Robert O Young says to aim to be slightly alkali, between pH7.1 and pH7.5.
Unfortunately, many of us are stressed and fill our diets with acid-forming foods and drinks instead of the alkali-forming ones. Ideally, we should be eating only 20 per cent of the acid-forming foods and 80 per cent of those that create alkali. Actively reducing these acid-forming foods while increasing the amount of alkali food and drink in our diets is the first step in protecting our health.
Boost your immune system
Our immune systems are our defence against disease and infection. Protecting them is the second vital step to good health. They need to be fed with ingredients that encourage optimal function. Luckily, all of these ingredients are found in food, so we can eat our way to a strong immune system.
Dr William Sears and Harvard Health Publications have detailed the top nutrients that we need in our diets to allow our immune system to fight and protect. Here are the top foods to begin eating now.
Vitamin C: camu camu, chilli peppers, guavas, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, kiwi, papaya and strawberries.
Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, dried apricots, green olives, cooked spinach, wheatgerm and flaxseeds.
Beta-carotene: sweet potato, kale, carrots, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, butternut squash, lettuce and collards.
Zinc: wheatgerm, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, cacao powder, peanuts, almonds, seafood and chickpeas.
Selenium: Brazil nuts, shellfish, fish, sunflower seeds, bran, asparagus, mushrooms, pinto beans and spinach.
Omega-3 fatty acids: flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, avocado and oily fish.
Other notable foods and plants that have been proven to boost the immune system: garlic, acai and maqui berry, aloe vera, ginseng, astragalus, echinacea, liquorice root.
Acid-forming foods (reduce intake)
Alkali-forming foods (increase intake)
Wheatgrass and spirulina
Vegetable juices, soups and broths