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Low cost diet improvement

More ways to guard your health and attend to basic medical needs for very, very low cost.

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Eating substantially less rather than more apparently offers many theraputic and preventive benefits for adult men and women (although children, teens, and pregnant women may often have good reasons not to excessively restrict food intake).

Voluntary but brief bouts of food deprivation have been practiced by many for health and religious reasons for millennia. One term for it is fasting. It may even be that we naturally and instinctively fast on occasion when enduring certain types of sickness, as part of our natural healing process. Modern research has turned up some intriguing things about fasting and/or near starvation diets.

-- Drastic Dieting Could Extend Lifespan; ABC News

-- Reduced-calorie diet adds nearly two years to dogs' life span; EurekAlert!

-- Dogged Dieting: Low-cal canines enjoy longer life Science News Online, May 11, 2002; Science news

-- Starvation could relieve multiple sclerosis; Nature

-- Fasting forestalls Huntington's disease in mice; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- 'Stress is detrimental and eating is recommended when fighting bacterial infections, however it appears that in the case of autoimmunity, the opposite holds true - stress and fasting is helpful'; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org


A 30% reduction in calorie intake over the long term in monkeys cut their risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, endometriosis, and cancer by 50%. Average monkey size was also reduced by about 20% by the restrictive diet, though physical activity was undiminished. Other animal studies indicate significant increases in lifespan stemming from reduced calorie intake.

Such a reduction in daily calorie intake would likely be difficult for most people of the developed countries without some sort of artificial aids.

-- Cutting Calories May Prevent Disease By Merritt McKinney, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 7, 2000

-- Low-cal diet may reduce cancer in monkeys John Travis, From Science News, Vol. 158, No. 22, Nov. 25, 2000, p. 341, Science Service

Reducing overall food intake (to around 76% normal) appears to help prevent brain diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Other health benefits also accrue. Such a reduced calorie diet is the only method known today for slowing the aging process in several different species of animals. Besides extending lifespans, it also seems to improve life quality at older ages.

-- Eating Less Seems To Fend Off Brain Diseases, By Terry Devitt, 27-Jun-2000, http://www.unisci.com

-- Following the fasting regimes laid down by the Greek Orthodox Church could reduce your chances of suffering from heart disease

-- Meal skipping helps rodents resist diabetes, brain damage; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- Day-on, day-off diet boosts health ; New Scientist

-- Restricting calories increases life span, researchers say

-- Middle-aged diet may extend life

-- Yahoo! News - Eating Less at Any Age Prolongs Life Mouse Study

-- Eat Less, Live Longer

-- calorie counter

What you eat can be even more important than how much so far as your health and well being are concerned. The junk food which many of us eat can be a huge drag on our health. But there's a surprisingly simple way to remove junk food from our diet. How? Crowd it out.

No matter who you are or what your present health condition is, you can only eat or drink so much in a day. Yes, certain extremists have been known to ingest so much at one sitting that it killed them on the spot. So sudden death is the ultimate limitation.

But for most us a feeling of fullness or satiation which lasts a while (between minutes and hours) is our normal boundary.

This means we can simply crowd out junk food from our daily diet by ingesting good food and drink instead. The good stuff will get us to the 'full' feeling, and we'll just have less tolerance for eating or drinking anything else.

As a bonus, over time, taking in more and more good stuff and less and less bad stuff will actually make us desire the bad stuff less and less. I'm personally to the point today that just the smell of something that's too sweet will nauseate me-- no way I'll take it in without being forced. Heck, in some cases merely the thought or memory of the strong junk food taste of something will repel me from such an item nowadays.

Fiber in food can help you feel fuller sooner when eating, thereby helping you eat less (which usually improves health and fitness for most folks, as seen in the preceding references), plus reduces the risk of some diseases and facilitates healthy elimination (reduces the incidence of constipation and diarrhea and related suffering, such as hemmorhoids).

-- Increased fiber curbs appetite in women; eurekalert.org

Fiber can be found in food items like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, bran cereals, the skins of apples and potatoes (these skins are actually the most nutritious parts of those particular foods; but typically the potatoes must be baked first, and as always, wash both items well with soap and water during preparation for eating. Other caveats here include removing the 'eyes' from potatoes during preparation (stubs or growths of stem-like structures outside the potato body), and avoidance of eating the seeds inside the core of apples, as I believe both those items to be poisonous.

For more about fiber please see the results of this Google search.

Regularly eating breakfast appears to be a potentially healthy habit in several respects. See the references below for more detail.

-- Eating breakfast may reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease; eurekalert.org

-- Another Reason Not to Skip Breakfast; ABC News

-- Children who shun breakfast 'have slow reaction times' - smh.com.au

-- Yahoo! News - Girls Need Big Breakfast

-- A Breakfast Of Meat And Eggs Or Nothing At All Linked To Extra Weight

Being careful about what you eat can not only keep you healthier than you'd otherwise be, but save you money as well.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish look to offer the best overall diet for health and long life. Staying away from highly processed foods, from fast foods through snack foods (and many sandwich meats) is beneficial as well. Highly processed foods usually cost more than the healthier foods you could produce or make yourself, too.

-- Fast food and 'the tube' a combo for heart disease risk; eurekalert.org

-- Food additives 'cause temper tantrums'; New Scientist

-- Eat Right, Stay Young

-- Practice Variety, Not Restriction, For A Healthy Diet Says University Of Arkansas Researcher

-- Whole grains reduce long-term risk of type 2 diabetes in men; eurekalert.org

-- Antioxidant-Rich Diets Improve Age-Related Declines In Mental Function Of Rats

-- Bread crust and stuffing rich in healthy antioxidants; eurekalert.org

-- Will a banana a day keep a stroke away?; eurekalert.org

-- Berry, berry, berry good; eurekalert.org

-- Cranberry may offer protection against antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause UTIs; eurekalert.org

-- Concord grape juice is a potent antioxidant that compares favorably to supplements; eurekalert.org

-- Drinking concord grape juice slowed LDL oxidation; eurekalert.org

-- Compound Identified In Grapes May Fight Cancer And Diabetes

-- Almonds have cholesterol benefits; eurekalert.org

-- nutrients found in almonds; eurekalert.org

-- new light on eating nuts for good health; eurekalert.org

-- Broccoli could fight cancer; eurekalert.org

-- Eating raw broccoli may combat cancer

-- Watermelon may help fight cancer

-- Diet Rich in Vitamins C, E May Pare Alzheimer's Risk (washingtonpost.com)

-- Vitamin E is important for early prevention of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged women; eurekalert.org

-- Folic Acid Can Help Prevent Heart Disease, Strokes, University Of Ulster Researcher Reports

-- B-Vitamins Prove Effective In Relieving Chronic Pain

-- Vitamins C and E may enhance effectiveness of insulin for diabetes

-- Organic and sustainable foods have more polyphenolics linked to health benefits; eurekalert.org

-- Organically grown foods higher in cancer-fighting chemicals than conventionally grown foods; eurekalert.org

Two of the items which make highly processed food so potentially unhealthy for you are the amounts of salt and refined sugar they usually contain.

-- U.N. Urges Sugar Limit for Healthier Living; ABC News

Healthier replacements for refined sugar and salt in your diet could be fruits, honey, and various spices.

Low cost health and medical contents

Yogurt and other dairy products

Regular consumption of cheese, yogurt, and fruit juices helps women stave off urinary tract infections. Berry juices seem particularly effective, with cranberry juice being noted in other recent studies in this regard.

-- Drink Juice, Eat Yogurt to Avoid Bladder Infection; Reuters Health/Yahoo! News; Mar 07, 2003; citing American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003;77:600-604

-- New study finds yogurt may help burn body fat; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

-- Adolescent girls who consume more calcium weigh less; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org

Two types of beneficial bacteria or probiotics common to yogurt can help significantly reduce the time kids spend suffering with diarrhea.

-- 'Good' Bacteria Help Kids with Diarrhea; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; May 30, 2002; citing The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2002;21:411-416

Consumption of dairy products (such as cheese, yogurt, butter, and milk) by adults who were overweight appeared to reduce their risks of suffering high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and increased resistance to insulin. The fat content of the substances seemed to have no bearing on these results. Normal weighted adults saw no effect on their insulin resistance from this regimen.

In general dairy foods tend to provide minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which appear to all contribute to reduced risks in regards to type 2 diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

-- Dairy Foods May Cut Heart Disease, Diabetes Risk By Suzanne Rostler; Apr 23, 2002; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; citing The Journal of the American Medical Association 2002;287:2082

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The regular drinking of hot tea appears to offer a wealth of potential health benefits. Note that tea prepared cold/iced tea/instant tea may not be quite as potent as the traditional tea bag steeped in hot water.

-- Drinking tea may prime the immune system to fight infections and even cancer; BBC; 2003/04/21

Teas of the varieties pekoe, oolong, green, and black all help stimulate certain elements of the human immune system.

-- Green, Black Tea Said to Boost Immune System; Discovery.com; April 21, 2003; citing Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Tea amazingly seems to strengthen the human immune system against a wide array of common threats, including parasitic infections, fungi, viruses, bacteria, and even tumors.

There's also indications tea helps reduce the risk and/or severity of heart disease, osteoporosis, and allergies.

-- Study: Tea Boosts the Body's Defenses; ABC News/The Associated Press; April 22 [the years 2002 and 2003 were both displayed on the original page, but the page was found by this author on or around 4-22-03]

-- Green tea could cut arthritis risk; BBC

Allergy sufferers of all ages may want to consider replacing some of their daily drinks with green tea, as it may relieve some of the symptoms incurred by a variety of allergen sources. Green tea is typically less processed than other types, and so retains more of the ingredients potentially helpful to allergy sufferers. Among other things, green tea may protect against arthritis and tooth decay. Green tea is highly popular with the Japanese, and is the second most popular beverage on Earth after water.

-- Green tea may fight allergies by Mark T. Sampson; EurekAlert!; eurekalert.org; 18-Sep-2002; Contact: Beverly Hassell; b_hassell@acs.org; 202-872-4065; American Chemical Society

-- SALADA - Green Tea FAQ

Comparatively large amounts of tea drinking (on average 19 cups per week, or between two and three cups a day) looks to aid the long term survival of heart attack victims. Many sorts of tea likely provide this effect, though black tea is the most popular in North America.

-- Steeped in research: Tea linked to survival after heart attack; 6-May-2002; Contact: Carole Bullock; carole.bullock@heart.org; 214-706-1279; American Heart Association and Tea linked to survival after heart attack; eurekalert.org

-- Tea gives big boost to insulin

-- Green tea 'can block cancer'; BBC

-- Green tea’s cancer-fighting allure becomes more potent; eurekalert.org

-- Soy-Tea Combo May Thwart Prostate Cancer, but Green tea is not an effective anticancer treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer; eurekalert.org


The fluoride included in the composition of tea, among other things, helps preserve and increase bone density in people. Green tea may contain the most fluoride. Frequency of tea drinking rather than quantity seemed the reason for the effect. The greatest benefit was seen in people who'd been regular tea drinkers for longer than ten years.

The caffeine in tea and other substances may have the opposite effect on bone maintenance (apparently caffeine's effect is overcome by other substances in tea over the long term, in regards to bone formation).

Asians appear to prefer green and oolong tea, while westerners prefer black tea.

-- Tea Builds Bone Density, Taiwanese Study Finds; Reuters/Yahoo!; May 12, 2002

-- Scientific American: Tea Aids Oral Health

-- 'tea extract protects skin'; eurekalert.org

-- Green tea linked to skin cell rejuvenation; eurekalert.org

-- Tea Boosts Immunity and Helps Skin, Study Finds

-- Tea gives big boost to insulin

-- Scientific American Tea May Temper Heart Disease

--A derivative of the green tea leaf may help with Metabolic Syndrome X, a potentially deadly disorder; eurekalert.org

-- Yahoo! News - Green Tea Component Kills Leukemia Cells

-- Mayo Clinic researchers discover green tea component helps kill leukemia cells; eurekalert.org

Tea does include caffeine, though usually in lower doses than coffee. Caffeine intake itself may be a bit similar to that of alcohol: small to moderate doses may offer some benefits, but those benefits may become quickly outweighed/overcome by various health risks and other concerns, especially of higher doses. Below are leads to information about both caffeine and its primary delivery media for many: coffee.

-- Caffeine - Should I Avoid it?

Moderate coffee drinking doesn't increase blood pressure. Caffeine's benefits (in moderate doses) may include boosting muscle strength, short-term memory, and increasing alertness.

-- Coffee acquitted on blood pressure charge By Jeremy Laurance; 26 March 2002; GMT

-- Why Does Caffeine Delay Exercise-Induced Fatigue?

-- Coffee drinkers have lower diabetes risk

-- Three coffees a day keeps dementia at bay [15jul02]

Other substances in roasted coffee (NOT caffeine) appear to help reduce tooth decay. Instant coffee may be the strongest in this regard.

-- Coffee may help prevent cavitiesn by Marvin Coyner; 6-Mar-2002; Contact: Beverly Hassell; b_hassell@acs.org; 202-872-4065; American Chemical Society

Just a single cup of coffee may contain enough caffeine to temporarily harden the walls of blood vessels and arteries.

--Caffeine, Even in Small Doses, May Hurt Arteries By Alison McCook; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; May 17, 2002

Even small doses of caffeine look to reduce insulin sensitivity-- something typically seen in people who later go on to develop diabetes.

-- Caffeine Linked to Pre-Diabetic Condition By Charnicia E. Huggins; Feb 20, 2002; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; citing Diabetes Care 2002;25:364-369

-- Cancer Risk in Coffee; ABC News

Caffeine may increase the interior pressures within the eye up to 3 mm Hg within a couple hours of ingestion, according to a study on glaucoma patients focusing on the short term effects of a single high dose (seven ounces of coffee containing 180 mg caffeine). Americans get most of their caffeine from sources like coffee, cola drinks, chocolate, tea, and certain pain relief drugs.

Very large amounts of vitamin C (like 10,000 mg a day) appear to help significantly reduce eye pressures. Food and airborne allergen sensitivity may also contribute to a rise in eye pressures in some people.

-- Caffeine May Worsen Glaucoma by R. Gaby, M.D. 6/27/02 - Healthnotes Newswire; citing Annals of Pharmacotherapy (2002;36:992–5)

-- Caffeine and estrogen affect Parkinson's disease risk in postmenopausal women; eurekalert.org

7-2-99 jrm&aFLUX newz&viewz: Massive doses of coffee just might save your life as an emergency first aid treatment in case of dangerous radiation exposure

But keep in mind being a pretty strong stimulant you might suffer other medical problems as a result of the treatment.

One cup of coffee contains 65-135 milligrams of caffeine (brewed typically has more than instant, but let's use the amount of 100 mg here), and an average person's body weight might easily be around 150 pounds (or 68 kg); so a person might have to take in 5,440 milligrams of caffeine (or drink more than 54 cups of coffee) in one day to match the experimental dosage proportions given in the report to mice. Of course, a much easier way to ingest this amount would be by pill (Vivarin anyone?). 70% of the mice given such high caffeine doses survived for almost a month after getting radiation exposure levels which are normally lethal.

Obviously no one would want to imbibe such a vast quantity of coffee unless it was absolutely necessary. But as emergency first aid in the immediate aftermath of lethal radiation exposure, such treatment might be reasonable.

We can hope that this first experiment might be followed up with another showing that much lower dosages of caffeine could have the same effect.

-- "Coffee Might Protect Against Radiation", Yahoo! News, Science Headlines, Reuters, June 23 1999

Tea is a relatively complex compound, incorporating many different chemicals and mineral ingredients, few of which we understand the effects of today. In addition to the health benefits touted above, and the risks associated with the caffeine within tea and coffee, also presented before, there may be various other detrimental effects or risks associated with tea consumption-- especially of large quantities.

Either regular tea consumption (one cup a day or more) or heavy smoking appear capable of reducing bladder control in women-- though the smoking has by far the worse effect, with regular tea drinking only slightly increasing such risk. Coffee appeared to have no effect.

-- Smoking, Tea Drinking Tied to Urinary Incontinence By Amy Norton; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; Mar 6, 2003; citing British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2003;110:247-254

Chocolate is another source of not only caffeine, but sugar and fat too in many folks' diet. Fortunately, the fat in dark chocolate is a much 'friendlier' fat than that found in many other foods: it acts inside the body much like olive oil-- a substance shown to be beneficial to us. Never-the-less, 50 grams of chocolate is the recommended maximum consumption a day according to one source.

Luckily, chocolate offers still more redeeming qualities health-wise.

Among its benefits, chocolate contains many mineral nutrients useful in skin and heart health, and reducing the risk of stroke, muscle spasms, cancer, and osteoporosis. Chocolate may also help reduce blood pressure and relax muscles.

Chocolate helps minimize the artery clogging damage being done to us from bad (LDL) cholesterol, too.

The darker the chocolate you consume, the stronger its anti-cancer properties. The antioxidants in dark chocolate appear to be superior to those found in garlic, strawberries, and vitamins E and C. Chocolate also reduces the likelihood of blood clots-- one of the reasons it apparently helps protect against strokes.

Chocolate syrups and cocoa powder unfortunately have most of the healthful ingredients processed out of them, circa 2002. Milk chocolate is not quite as healthy as dark chocolate either. Indeed, while milk and chocolate may taste good together, milk neutralizes much of chocolate's health benefits when the two are mixed. One source recommends not drinking any milk within four hours of eating chocolate, to minimize milk's damage to the chocolate's healthy aspects. And, or course, milk's effect on chocolate is one reason milk chocolate's nutritional effects are so weak compared to dark chocolate.

-- A Chocolate a Day -- Keeps the Doctor Away; Transcipt of the Number 8 CTM Speech by Rosemary Kubicek

-- Chocolate treats for the heart; EurekAlert!; 17-Jan-2003; Contact: Allison Byrum; a_byrum@acs.org; 202-872-4400; American Chemical Society

-- Same Health Benefits From Less Chocolate: Report By Alison McCook; May 1, 2002; Reuters Health/Yahoo!; citing The Journal of the American Medical Association 2002;287:2212-

-- Dark chocolate may fight off heart attacks By LEE BOWMAN; February 17, 2002; Scripps Howard News Service; Nando Media/Nando Times staff

-- Dark chocolate boosts antioxidant levels (avoid mixing with milk)

In my own case I've found that consuming around 50 grams of Hershey's special dark chocolate a day helps keep at bay a particularly annoying skin problem common to my family, that only made itself apparent in me within the last ten years. As this particular problem can be unsightly (the scratched rash can develop into open sores), make me more prone to infections in general, and strongly interfere with my sleep (due to incessant itching), it's proven itself to be quite a burden at times. Many years ago we took my youngest brother to the finest university hospital in our region where they studied the problem, as he suffered with it more than anyone else in the family. But they basically couldn't help us. Luckily the problem wasn't life-threatening, but unluckily they knew of no way to effectively treat it.

It appears this is just a genetic problem preculiar to my family, which can be aggravated by stress, diet, and the excessive dryness of the winter season, among other things.

A considerably smaller dose of chocolate than 50 grams would deliver many of the same health benefits listed before, according to references. It's just that in my own case smaller doses are not 100% effective in keeping my skin problems at bay.

A somewhat contradictory note here: In the past I've sometimes seemed to break out with a wholly different rash when eating too many pecans, and/or regular chocolate. But for some reason the dark chocolate doesn't seem to cause that problem. So keep in mind that there's significant differences between dark chocolate and the types of chocolate found in many other candy and drink products.

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The inclusion of olive oil in the diet appears to protect against certain types of internal cancer. Olive oil can be used for cooking oil and salad dressing, among other things. Virgin olive oil spread onto the skin in the wake of sun exposure appears to help prevent skin cancer.

-- Olive Oil May Protect Against Colon Cancer By Patricia Reaney; Yahoo!/Reuters; September 18, 2000

-- Virgin Olive Oil May Protect Against Cancer-Report; Reuters/Yahoo!; May 10, 2000

Olive oil in the diet also helps reduce or even eliminate the need for drugs to control high blood pressure (by lowering the pressure).

-- Olive oil may reduce need for blood pressure drugs; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; March 28, 2000

A diet including olive oil reduces the risk of heart disease.

-- ADVICE: Peanuts or popcorn? By STEVE INFANTI; March 25, 2000; Scripps Howard News Service/Nando Media; http://www.nandotimes.com

A diet including olive oil also reduces the wrinkling which usually accompanies aging.

-- Wholesome Diet May Prevent Wrinkles: Study; Yahoo!/Reuters Health; April 4, 2001; Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2001;20:71-80 cited.

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Honey appears to offer health benefits in consumption-- especially dark honey. Honey may also be less damaging to teeth (as in cavity production) than refined sugars.

-- The Color of Honey By JANET RALOFF; Science News, Vol. 154, No. 11, September 12, 1998, p. 170

-- Beyond 2000 | Science-Chemistry | Sweet Tooth; 2-28-01

-- Honey fights cholesterol as well as some fruits and vegetables; Eurekalert; eurekalert.org

-- For the most part, the darker the honey, the more antioxidants it contains

-- Honey for your health; eurekalert.org

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Back to Introduction and Table of Contents...

The above article(s) come from and make references to a collection copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by J.R. Mooneyham (except where otherwise noted in the text). Text here explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham may be freely copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes in paper and electronic form without charge if this copyright paragraph and link to jmooneyham.com or jrmooneyham.com are included.

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