- New research revealed
- The food deficiency that causes 67% of these cancer cases
- Are lamb and red wine good for the brain?
The World Cancer Research Fund has published some brand new research.
I think it could be of interest to Good Life Letter readers.
Yes, it pretty much backs up what our message has ALWAYS been – but it’s worth remembering – eat a wide range of whole foods to avoid pain and serious illness.
The WCRF has reported that 67% of colorectal cancer cases in men, and 60% of those in women, are actually preventable.
Mainly by eating more dietary fibre – which you can get from foods like these:
- Dried fruit
- Apples and pears
- Citrus fruits
As a rule, the more natural and unprocessed the food, the higher it is in fibre.
And if you eat mainly meat, dairy, pasta and white rice, you’re probably not getting enough.
Signs of a deficiency include:
- Constipation – fewer than three bowel movements a week
- Weight gain – the more fibre you eat, the fuller you feel after less food, so if you’re gaining weight and you’re not sure why, this could be it
- Low energy – too much meat, eggs and cheese without the balance of fruit and veg can leave you tired and nauseous
Whether you have these problems or not, even a mild deficiency could be significant…
That’s because a lack of fibre is by far the highest risk factor in colorectal cancer and is the suspected cause of 12,000 cases per year in Britain.
So one of the best things you can do is to switch some of that pasta and rice for vegetables, munch on nutty snacks each day and up your fruit intake (the whole fruit, not the juice!). Aim for around 30g of fibre a day if you can.
It’s classic common sense of course, but hopefully this new evidence about cancer rates will spur people on to take action!
However, here’s something that’s far less obvious…
How fibre can help your brain stay healthy
It has been shown eating more fibre can offer some extra protection against cognitive decline and memory loss.
This is because of a fatty acid produced in your gut when bacteria ferment fibre.
It’s called butyrate, and scientists have found that it can reduce tissue inflammation linked to cognitive decline.
Fibre is also linked to a lower risk of inflammation in the microglia (the brain’s immune cells) which is a cause of disease like Alzheimer’s.
So that’s another impetus to load up on vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruit.
But when it comes to brain health, there are some other foods to consider…
Are lamb and red wine good for the brain?
Last week I was reading about new research at Leeds University, using data from 50,000 people.
It links processed meat like bacon with a higher risk of getting dementia.
They don’t know for sure yet but the suspicion is that the culprit is nitrates, a chemical used to cure the meat.
Ok, so far so bad…
‘Boo for bacon,’ say the scientists.
However, it was not all bad meat news from Leeds.
The same study ALSO showed that people who ate 50g a day of beef or lamb were 19% LESS likely to develop dementia than non red meat eaters.
So yet again, it’s the processing of food that introduces many of the problems we experience.
And if you were to accompany your lamb or beef with a drink, then red wine has a high level of resveratrol, an antioxidant that can offer some protection against dementia.
As always, it’s not necessarily that eating healthy requires you to give up all the pleasures in life.
In moderation, meat, wine, cheese, coffee and other delights can actually help improve your health.
But they need to be part of a varied and balanced diet.
Of course, we’re not all built the same.
We have different dietary needs depending on food intolerances… the amount of exercise we do… our age… our health condition… our medications…
So it’s important to keep an eye on what you eat and how it makes you feel, so that you can better balance your nutrition to your own body.
The benefit of a food diary
This is why I recommend keeping a food diary, particularly if you have health niggles related to stomach pain, weight gain or fatigue that your doctor cannot diagnose.
Writing things down each day helps you see the truth about how much you eat, and what you eat – and allows you to track those ingredients that cause problems, as well as those that make you feel happier, healthier and more energetic.
You don’t have to do it forever but it could really help pinpoint potential deficiencies.
It’s also a good way to monitor the effects of the Good Life Letter’s many recommendations, so you buy those supplements that genuinely help and avoid those that don’t work for you.
Here’s a very simple one from NHS Wales which you can print: Food Diary
Or check your local NHS website for variants – for instance, here’s a more detailed one from East Lancashire Hospitals: Click here