This month we’re going to touch on a topic that threatens all of us; that topic is pro-inflammatory foods. These foods lurk in the grocery aisle, at the roadside food stand, the holiday party and the ball park. That threat is specifically bacon, hot dogs and processed meats of all kinds, sugary beverages, common cooking oils, trans fats, dairy products, refined grains, and artificial food additives. The World Health Organization has ranked processed meats as a “group 1” carcinogen. This means researchers have found sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity to categorize processed meats along with arsenic, tobacco smoke, and asbestos exposure.
A Harvard study published in JAMA Oncology found an association between colorectal cancer and regular consumption of these foods that are linked to chronic inflammation; the statistic was staggering- you are 32% more likely to develop colorectal cancer if you consume pro-inflammatory foods. Some of the other well-known risk factors for colorectal cancer include family history, age, lack of screening, personal history of colorectal polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, i.e. ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, obesity, and smoking. In addition to colorectal cancer, a pro-inflammatory diet is also associated with coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes. Anti-inflammatory diets include tea, coffee, carrots, squash, and green leafy vegetables. Further, the benefits of a plant-based diet cannot be overestimated; a Harvard study found that cutting out meat can make you live longer and cut the risk of premature death by one third. That means that more than a million American lives could be saved annually. Not only is a predominantly vegetarian diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat, but it is also high in protective nutrients such as fiber, folic acid, vitamins C and E, magnesium, and potassium. Vegetarians tend to have lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index, all health metrics that are associated with longer life expectancy and less morbidity from chronic diseases.
Culture sells you on a notion that you must choose between greasy taste sensations, and something bland or unsatisfying. This is not true. There are wildly delicious foods available to replace processed meats, and they are choices that increase your energy, vitality, and feed your body with much needed nutrients. Consider these delicious alternatives: grilled salmon with lemon and sea salt, avocado wraps with a delicious lemon-dill garlic spread, grilled organic chicken rubbed with olive oil, sage, sea salt and ground black pepper. In all respects, you are healthier and happier when you avoid a pro-inflammatory diet, and instead enjoy delicious, healthy food and live the joyful, radiant life you deserve.
What are the benefits of radiant health? Honestly, too many to mention! A joyful, positive experience in life, more emotional availability to the ones you love, faster and more creative problem solving, decreased anxiety, less cost associated with medical issues, and more time and energy to do the things you enjoy. As you age, excellent health means less pain, less reliance on medications, and much greater potential for success in your career because you are motivated, optimistic and energized. Essentially, a longer, more energetic and fulfilling life.
Dr. Yousif A-Rahim, M.D. Ph. D.
Chief Medical Officer: Covenant Surgical Partners
Dr. A-Rahim works with our Medical Advisory Boards, our Medical Directors, and our quality assurance programs to oversee improvement of clinical outcomes for our patients. He also organizes and leads Company efforts to measure and improve clinical outcomes for all centers and the Company as a whole. Dr. A-Rahim earned his medical and doctorate degrees from the Pennsylvania State University and completed a residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Gastroenterology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School. As a physician, he is known for his expertise in interventional endoscopy and minimally invasive treatments for gastrointestinal disease. He has authored several articles published in medical journals and has delivered presentations to fellow physicians around the country, including at his alma mater, Harvard Medical School.
Dr. A-Rahim is currently a Lecturer in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and practices gastroenterology at the VA Boston Healthcare System West Roxbury Campus in Massachusetts, and at Pacific Endoscopy Center, an ASC he co-founded in 2008 in Pearl City, Hawaii.