What Is Food Dosing? Doctor Shares Food "Doses" That Could Help You Fight Disease

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If you're concerned about your health, especially as you age, you're not alone. According to American Hospital Association, an estimated 133 million Americans—which is nearly half of the population—suffer from at least one chronic illness. So, it's absolutely essential to do everything you can to prevent these illnesses—and a big part of that starts with your diet. Dr. Will Li, author of Eat to Beat Disease explains that we can actually fight illness with certain pantry staples through a concept called food dosing—and it's actually very simple.  

What is Food Dosing?  

"Food dosing is a key concept when you're thinking about the idea of food as medicine because just like pharmaceuticals where there's a dose that tells you how much and how often you should take a medicine, it turns out the research is telling us that there's dosing for foods that can help our health," says Dr. Li. "The research is showing that we don't have to eat ridiculous amounts of foods to get the benefit from them. The amounts that actually work are very reasonable." 

Foods That Could Help Us Heal & Their "Doses" 

1. Navy Beans: 5 cups per week 

When it comes to navy beans, the dose, according to Dr. Li is five cups per week, which is less than a cup a day. And as far as what it helps with? "It turns out there's a medical problem called metabolic syndrome, and this is a dangerous cluster of conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and too much belly fat—so there are a lot of people who actually have this and it's a set-up for heart disease and diabetes, which we all want to avoid," explains Dr. Li.  

"There was a study done by the University of Toronto looking at navy beans and what they can actually do for metabolism...and they found [a diet of five cups of navy beans per week] could actually smooth out your metabolism, and for men it lowered bad cholesterol, LDL by 18 percent. And for men and women, navy beans actually shrank their waist size by one inch," he says.  

2. Tree Nuts: 1 ounce twice a week 

Tree nuts include everything from pistachios, walnuts and almonds to macadamias and pine nuts—all of which can help fight disease, the doctor says. "The dose of nuts is one ounce twice a week," Dr. Li explains.  

"Tree nuts actually contain dietary fiber just like navy beans do, but in this case they tell the gut bacteria to work with your immune system to find, hunt down and kill cancer cells. So, the study was a major study done by 14 cancer centers in North America, and they looked at 826 people with stage 3 colon cancer...and they found that those who ate at least two one ounce servings a week of tree nuts actually had an improved rate of survival by 57 percent," shares Dr. Li.  

3. Spices (like red pepper, cumin, basil, rosemary, thyme) : 1 ⅓ teaspoons per meal 

Now, when it comes to spices Dr. Li is talking about red pepper, cumin, basil, rosemary, thyme—all the favorites you probably have in your pantry already. "The dose when it comes to spices is a teaspoon and a third," says Dr. Li.  

And just that small serving of spice can have a major impact on blood pressure. "One of the most important things we can do for our health is to manage our blood pressure. High blood pressure is a danger for heart attacks, stroke," Dr. Li explains. Penn State University did a study to look at how 24 common spices used in meals for individuals with high blood pressure every day for a month impacted their health. "What they found is that spiced foods can actually lower your blood pressure, systolic blood pressure by three points. Systolic blood pressure is the first number of a blood pressure. For every point you can lower it, you lower your risk of stroke by five percent."  

4. Spinach & Beets: 1 cup of cooked spinach or 1 cup of beet juice per week 

These may not be in your pantry, but Dr. Li considers these two to be kitchen staples. "1 cup of cooked spinach or 1 cup of beet juice is the dose," says Dr. Li.  

"Spinach and beets grow close to the ground, so they absorb a lot of nitrogen from the soil, very natural. When we eat spinach and beets, the healthy bacteria on your tongue interacts with the nitrogen in the food and changes it to a form that when we swallow it, it's absorbed into the stomach as nitric oxide. Nitric oxide makes our blood vessels widen and lowers our blood pressure," says Dr. Li. "So, studies have shown that one cup of cooked spinach could lower your blood pressure by three points over the course of a week, and beets will do the same."   

Important to note: Please always consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.  

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