By Dr. Mercola
Healthy foods not only provide you with life-giving nutrients and fuel for all the organs in your body, they also help you keep an ideal weight. And as study after study proves, and regular readers of this newsletter know, maintaining an optimum weight can add years of healthy vitality to your life.
You are What You Eat
I’m sure you’ve heard that old saying, and it’s as true today as it ever was.
It all boils down to this: if you want to optimize your health, you must return to the basics of healthy food, ideally, chosen specifically for your nutritional type, because it’s all about eating the proper ratios of the right types of food for your personal biochemistry.
There is no way around this simple fact. It may not be as convenient as you would like. It may be more costly in the short term, both in dollars and cents and in the amount of time required to obtain and prepare healthy foods. But make no mistake -- there are no short-cuts when it comes to this single most important thing you can do for your health.
In today’s world, the need for speed has taken over our lives. Fast and processed foods are what most working people and families seek out for the sake of convenience and speed.
Then when years of bad food choices take their toll on health, people want to feel better by tomorrow. They want to be at their ideal weight by next week. And as luck would have it, there is an endless supply of drugs and fake foods available promising to do just that.
Unfortunately, nearly all of these “magic pills” and diets can worsen your health even more in the long run.
Ultimately, the simplest and most effective way to achieve good health and a long life is to focus on the nutrition you are putting in your body on a daily basis.
Seven Superfoods That Will Keep You Young
The following seven foods are among the most highly nutritious you can consume.
Keep in mind that to get the most out of them, you must first understand the best foods for your nutritional type. Even the healthiest foods aren’t ideal for everyone, so it’s important to know which foods serve your body best.
1. Whey Protein
You may be wondering why the first food on this list is actually a supplement and not a whole food. Great question. The answer is fascinating, if a bit complex.
Whey has been shown to increase your body’s stores of the antioxidant glutathione, or GSH. Glutathione is known to increase the integrity of telomeres. Telomeres are bundles of DNA found in every cell, and they shorten with age.
Stem Cell Information, The National Institutes of Health resource for stem cell research, Appendix C: Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Human Embryonic Germ Cells, http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/2001report/appendixC.asp
Researchers suspect telomeres shorten due to damage by free radicals. Free radicals play a role in DNA mutations, and there is evidence that mutations in your telomeres can cause larger chunks than normal to be lost during cell division.
Low levels of GSH are always found in people with oxidative stress-related diseases like cancer and AIDS. Further, as glutathione levels drop, these patients get sicker.
In November 2009, I had the privilege of attending a gathering of some of the leading anti-aging biologists and experts in the world. In a discussion I sparked about telomere lengthening, we agreed it is, without question, one of the most exciting methods that holds great promise to actually REVERSE aging.
Much of the research is on proprietary chemicals to lengthen telomeres, but I was surprised to learn that there are studies in progress that show increasing glutathione levels will actually provide similar results.
Glutathione is not a compound you can ingest directly. It is manufactured inside your cells from its precursor amino acids, glycine, glutamate and cystine.
But what is really exciting is that you don’t have to take expensive glutathione supplements. I confirmed with some of the leading scientists there that you can actually increase your levels through dietary manipulation.
And guess what the most potent dietary way to increase your glutathione levels happens to be?
The best way to increase and maintain your GSH levels is to make sure your diet includes foods (such as animal foods and eggs) rich in the sulfur amino acids your cells need to synthesize glutathione.
Whey protein is the easiest and most convenient way to do this. But not just any whey protein will do, it needs to be high quality and very carefully processed from grass fed organic cows to preserve the fragile amino acid precursors. I am so convinced of this research that I take our Miracle Whey protein every morning, typically after my morning exercise program.
2. Raw, Organic Eggs
Eggs are another super food. Research has ended the debate -- there is no link between egg consumption and heart disease.
A single egg contains:
Nine essential amino acids.
Six grams of the highest quality protein you can put in your body. Proteins are nutrients that are essential to the building, maintenance and repair of your body tissues such as your skin, internal organs and muscles. They are also the major components of your immune system and hormones.
Lutein and zeaxanthin (for your eyes).
Choline for your brain, nervous- and cardiovascular systems.
Naturally occurring vitamin D.
However, it’s critical to understand that not all eggs are created equal. There is a major nutritional difference between TRUE free-range chicken eggs and commercially farmed eggs.
The USDA defines “free-range” chickens as those with “access to the outside.” “Outside,” however, can be a field or a cement courtyard and has nothing to do with what the chickens eat. Commercially farmed hens are fed corn, soy and cottonseed. True free-range chickens eat a natural, nutrient-dense diet of seeds, green plants, insects and worms.
I recommend you try to get your eggs locally. To find free-range pasture farmers in your area, ask at your health food store or visit www.eatwild.com or www.localharvest.org.
If you have no choice but to buy your eggs at the grocery store, look for free-range organic. Avoid all omega-3 eggs, as they typically come from hens fed poor quality omega-3 fat sources that are already oxidized.
Eat your eggs raw whenever possible. Allergic reactions to eggs are generally caused by the changes that take place in the cooking process. Eating eggs raw also helps preserve many of the highly perishable nutrients they contain.
Avoiding raw egg yolks is conventional nutritional dogma, as raw egg whites contain a glycoprotein called avidin that is very effective at binding biotin, one of the B vitamins. The concern is that this can lead to a biotin deficiency.
The simple solution is to cook the egg whites, as this completely deactivates the avidin. The problem is that this also impairs the structure of nearly every other protein in the egg. While you will still obtain nutritional benefits from consuming cooked eggs, from a nutritional perspective it would seem far better to consume them uncooked.
What is important to realize is that there is plenty of biotin in the egg yolk. Egg yolks have one of the highest concentrations of biotin found in nature. So it is likely that you will not have a biotin deficiency if you consume the whole raw egg, yolk and white.
It is also clear, however, that if you only consume raw egg whites, you are nearly guaranteed to develop a biotin deficiency unless you take a biotin supplement.
So to be clear, my advice is that you can safely eat WHOLE raw eggs, from a healthy fresh source. I eat four whole raw eggs each morning with my breakfast. I would strongly advise against eating raw egg whites alone. They simply need to be consumed with the yolks.
3. Leafy Greens
Like eggs, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and romaine lettuce, are great sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Studies have shown eating foods rich in these antioxidants can significantly reduce your risk of AMD (age-related macular degeneration), as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are also packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants like beta carotene, vitamin C, and sulforaphane.
Spinach provides folate, which research shows can dramatically improve your short-term memory. Eating folate rich foods may lower your risk for heart disease and cancer by slowing down wear and tear on your DNA.
Spinach has a very high ORAC score. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, which is a measurement of a food’s ability to destroy the free radicals that cause damage in your body. The higher the ORAC score, the better a food is for you.
Naturally grown fresh vegetables are also rich in sun stored energy in the form of minute particles of light called biophotons.
Sunlight is vital to life, and you can actually absorb this sun energy through the food you eat, in addition to absorbing it through your skin.
Every living organism emits biophotons or low-level luminescence. The higher the level of light energy a cell emits, the greater the potential for transfer of that energy to the individual who absorbs it. This light energy manifests as a feeling of well-being and vitality.
Research shows that, in addition to the chemical composition of our food, light energy (biophotons) is also a key factor in its quality. The more biophotons a food is able to store, the more nutritious it is.
Some leafy greens like collard and salad greens and spinach, contain vitamin K1, which is linked to good vascular health , including fewer varicose veins.
Vitamin K1, a fat-soluble vitamin, is also vital for:
It is important to realize, though, that the vitamin K in vegetables is vitamin K1. Fermented foods like natto and cheeses also have vitamin K2, which provides even more potent benefits for your bones and reduces the risk of calcification of your arteries.
Whenever possible, buy organic greens. Organic produce has been shown to have higher nutrient-content than conventional fresh produce. On average, conventional produce has only 83 percent of the nutrients of organic produce.
Broccoli is another dark green, antioxidant rich vegetable in the cruciferous family, with near miraculous powers of healing and disease prevention.
Broccoli contains the highest amount of isothiocyanates, a cancer-fighting compound, of all the crunchy vegetables.
Isothiocynates work by turning on cancer-fighting genes and turning off others that feed the disease.
Other vegetables containing isothiocyanate include:
Research shows eating cruciferous vegetables can significantly reduce your risk of breast, bladder, lung and prostate cancer.
You don’t need to eat large amounts of these veggies to take advantage of their health benefits, either. Studies have shown men who eat more than one portion of cruciferous vegetables a week are at lower risk of prostate cancer.
One serving of broccoli is about two spears, so just 10 spears a week can make a difference in your health.
Blueberries not only taste delicious, they are powerhouses of nutrition, ranking at the very top of the list of fresh fruits and vegetables. They are full of antioxidants which help your body neutralize free radicals, molecules that can harm brain cells and brain function.
A study published by Tufts University showed that anthocyanins in blueberries (the pigments that give them their deep color), appear to combat oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is one of the main causes of aging.
Anthocyanins also aid your brain in the production of dopamine, a chemical that is critical to coordination, memory function, and your mood.
Blueberries, especially grown wild, can give an enormous boost to your health. They can help:
Reduce your cancer risk
Reduce cholesterol levels
Prevent heart disease and stroke
Protect you from Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases
Reverse short term memory loss and prevent brain aging
Relieve symptoms of arthritis
Fight infection and support your immune system
Improve urinary tract health
Improve your vision and the health of your eyes
Blueberries are low in sugar, but it’s still best to eat them in moderation to keep your insulin levels from spiking. And as with all fruits and vegetables, try to buy organic.
Other varieties of berries also have powerful healing and disease-prevention properties. Examples:
Black raspberries are potent cancer fighters as well, with about three times the amount of antioxidants found in blueberries. These berries can be harder to find than other varieties because they’re grown in smaller quantities. It’s harder still to find them fresh, so you may need to look for them frozen.
Cherries are rich in queritrin, a flavonoid, and ellagic acid. Both are potent anti-cancer agents.
Strawberries contain phytonutrients, natural anti-inflammatory agents that also protect your heart and have cancer fighting properties.
Blackberries contain antioxidants, ellagic acid, and vitamins C and E, all of which may reduce cancer risk and fight chronic disease.
Cranberries are loaded with polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant. Studies show they may inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and reduce the risk of stomach ulcers and gum disease.
Acai berries, from Brazil, contain antioxidants with the power to destroy cultured human cancer cells. Amazingly, these berries triggered self-destruction of over 85 percent of leukemia cells tested.
Chlorella, a single-celled fresh water algae plant, is often referred to as a near-perfect food.
Its range of health benefits is astounding and includes:
Boosting your immune system
Improving your digestion, especially if constipation is a problem
Enhancing your ability to focus and concentrate
Increasing your energy levels
Balancing your body’s pH
Normalizing your blood sugar and blood pressure
Reducing your cancer risk
Even freshening your breath
But arguably the most important property of chlorella is its ability to help rid your body of heavy metal toxins.
Most people are being harmed in some way by heavy metals in their body. If you’ve received a vaccine, had silver fillings in your teeth, or eaten fish, it’s highly likely you have some level of metal poisoning which is compromising your health.
Chlorella plays a particularly crucial role in systemic mercury elimination because the majority of mercury is rid through your stool. Once the mercury burden is lowered from your intestines, mercury from other body tissues will more readily migrate into the intestines -- where chlorella will work to remove it.
Again, as with any supplement, different brands of chlorella will vary widely with regard to overall quality, potency and purity, so make sure you purchase from a reputable source.
7. Garlic, the “Stinking Rose”
The component of garlic, allicin, which causes the familiar strong smell and flavor, is actually an extremely effective antioxidant. As allicin digests in your body it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts faster with dangerous free radicals than any other known compound.
Garlic is also a triple threat against infections due to its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. It is effective at killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA, as well as fighting yeast infections, viruses and parasites.
Garlic helps relax and enlarge the blood vessels in your body, improving blood flow, especially to your heart. This can help prevent conditions like high blood pressure and life-threatening events such as a heart attack or stroke. Garlic also inhibits the formation of plaques in your arteries, and prevents cholesterol from becoming oxidized, a condition that may contribute to heart disease.
Both garlic and onions can increase your protection against at least five forms of the deadliest types of cancer: breast, colon, ovarian, prostate and esophageal.
It also appears that allicin may be useful as a cancer treatment. When alliinase and alliin (the two components that covert to allicin) were injected into a tumor cell, the reaction not only penetrated the cell but also killed it.
In addition to all those benefits, research also indicates garlic may be useful for controlling weight.
Garlic cloves must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the process that converts alliin into the beneficial allicin. Once the garlic is cut, the active compound loses potency rapidly and can disappear completely within about an hour of chopping.
The best way to eat garlic is to take a whole, fresh clove, chop it, smash it or press it, wait a few minutes for the conversion to occur, and then eat it. If you use jarred, powdered, or dried garlic, you won’t get all the benefits fresh garlic has to offer.
It is important to know though that a number of people are allergic to garlic. If you are one of them you should definitely avoid garlic. Actually that is true for any food in this article. It might be the healthiest food in the world, but if your body gives you a signal to avoid it, then it is typically best to honor your body’s wisdom.
The Most Important Way to Slow Aging
Do you know what the number one way to slow aging in your body is? If you’re like most people, you don’t.
Most people don’t understand the importance of optimizing their insulin levels, as insulin is without a doubt THE major accelerant of aging. Fortunately, you can go a long way toward keeping your insulin levels healthy by reducing or eliminating grains and sugars from your diet.
This one crucial step, combined with nutritional typing and the inclusion of nature’s anti-aging miracle foods in your diet, can dramatically improve your health and longevity.
It is also crucial to include a comprehensive exercise program as that is another lifestyle choice that will radically improve the sensitivity of your insulin receptors and help to optimize your insulin levels.
 Harvard School of Public Health, The Nutrition Source, Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good
 Journal of Vascular Research, Identification of Differentially Expressed Genes in Human Varicose Veins: Involvement of Matrix Gla Protein in Extracellular Matrix Remodeling, 7/20/07
 Tufts University e-news, Researchers At Tufts University Report Blueberries May Reverse Memory Loss
 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, A new gaseous signaling molecule emerges: Cardioprotective role of hydrogen sulfide, 11/08/07