How you can eat to beat illness: Harvard scientist Dr WILLIAM LI reveals the foods that could save your life

  • Specific compounds in certain foods can boost the body’s natural defenses 
  • Dr William Li says the most powerful way to beat disease is to prevent it
  • Foods listed below will help support the growth and health of blood vessels 

As a doctor who has treated thousands of patients and a scientist working at the forefront of modern medicine, Harvard expert Dr William Li is convinced the most powerful way to beat disease — from cancer to dementia — is to prevent it in the first place.

His work hinges on the study of five key defense systems in our body: our immune system, our stem cells, our DNA, our gut bacteria, and the sophisticated action of our blood vessels. When working well, they keep us healthy, but age, inactivity, stress, poor diet and toxic load — from air pollution, smoke and processed food, for example — put them under pressure, and that’s when disease can creep in.

Dr Li has drawn on more than 30 years of medical research and more than 700 scientific studies to pinpoint which foods support these systems best. Using these findings he has written a ground-breaking new book which will be exclusively serialized in these four-page pull-outs all this week, as part of the Daily Mail’s Good Health for Life month.

Every day this week we will shine the spotlight on one of the five systems and reveal specific foods that support it, starting today with possibly the most important: the system that supports the growth and health of blood vessels.

First, take the quiz on the back of this pull-out to get a good idea of your current state of health. This will help you determine how much support your defense systems need.

Harvard expert Dr William Li is convinced that the most powerful way to beat disease - from cancer to dementia - is to prevent it in the first place. (Pictured: Stock image)

We are truly at a turning point in the fight against disease. Each of us has an enormous opportunity to take charge of our lives using food to transform our health.

Our health systems are set up to step in once disease has declared its presence but this has left us with a huge number of people who now rely on costly medication that often cannot give them back their health.

As the burden of disease rises, healthcare systems around the world are buckling under this tremendous financial strain.

I believe a far better route to optimal health and a long life free from disease lies in eating the right food, and thanks to sophisticated scientific testing techniques, we can pinpoint the specific compounds in certain foods that trigger or support crucial disease-fighting processes in the body.

This revolution in information means we can be far more sophisticated with our dietary choices, picking single foods to support specific functions — we can even suggest the precise ‘food dose’ to boost your defence against dementia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis or type 2 diabetes. We all know the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ and to some extent we now know this to be true — apples are a great source of plant nutrients, vitamins and fibre.

Findings such as this put us at an important turning point in the fight against disease.

My research has shown that our health is protected by a series of five remarkable defence systems that work hard to keep our cells and organs functioning smoothly.

These systems are hardwired to protect us by resisting the regular hazards we all face every day (such as air pollution and ageing) and by instigating a healing process when disease does strike. The big five are: your immune system, your stem cells, your DNA, your gut bacteria, and the sophisticated action of your blood vessels (a process called angiogenesis).

When you know what to eat to support each health defence, you can use your diet to beat illness.

We now know that certain compounds in specific foods have a powerful influence on some, a few, or all of these systems activating and supporting their abilities to keep us healthy.

Most of the best foods are vegetables and fruit — which goes some way to explain the health-giving effects of plant-based diets, and why we’ve all been urged to aim to eat five (or, preferably, more) portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

But now we can pinpoint precisely which foods best support each defence system and this is key to using your diet to maintain health and beat disease.

Foods are now being tested using the same processes that have been used to develop drugs and studies show precisely how certain foods can activate each system.

Pick the right foods each day and you can be confident you are doing the best you can to protect yourself against illness and disease.

Everyone is afraid of becoming ill. If your goal is to stay healthy, and especially if you are battling a disease, you want reliable information based on science and fact, and actionable steps that you can take now to improve your situation.

There is no ‘silver bullet’ for any one disease or for overall health and longevity. No single factor in our life is going to prevent sickness. But my research shows we have something even better.

There is a way to boost our own defence systems, so the body will heal itself.

These revelations tell us that we have radically underestimated our power to transform and restore our own health.

If your goal is to extend the number of healthy years you have ahead, your food choices can tip the odds in your favour.

By boosting your defence systems and keeping them in good shape, you’ll have a better shot at beating disease and extending not just the length but also the quality of your life.

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