The father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, understood the great power of nutrition when he counseled, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.”
Aim for a diet high in a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Balance with whole-grains, healthiest protein sources (e.g. beans, lentils, soy, fish), and moderate fat intake from nuts, seeds, and olive/canola oil.
Wild fish and/or fish oil supplements are often beneficial.
Minimize or avoid fried foods, sugars, and processed foods.
Choose more alkaline foods (spinach, kale, and other dark green leafy vegetables, green tea, etc.) and fewer acid foods (sugar, corn, white potatoes, red meat, etc.).
Include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, unpasteurized sauerkraut, miso, fermented cheeses, and probiotic supplements when needed to maintain digestive health.
As a result of pioneering work of the spectroscopic physicists at the University of Utah, the Moran Eye Center, and two published studies, we now have a multi-laser device that can measure the level of carotenoids in your skin.
Carotenoid testing in our office
Carotenoids have an extremely important role to play in preventive health. Plants like bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and watermelon naturally produce carotenoids for their own superior growth. In the bell pepper, for example, the carotenoid content becomes more and more elevated as the pepper itself goes from green to yellow to orange to red. This protects the growing plant from the potentially damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun in late summer.
These same carotenoids likewise have a major role to play in skin health, eye health, bone health, cardiovascular health, and there are even preliminary studies revealing a correlation to brain health. Think about a fast food hamburger, French fries, or a slice of pizza as completely devoid of carotenoids. Instead think of the deep green beauty of the asparagus stalk, the leaves of kale and spinach, even the rich clusters of water crest within a spring creek.
After working for several years on carotenoid correlations in bone and joints, while observing skin, we’re now entering a study that will carefully measure exposed cancellous bone in surgery and compare to skin level measurements in the same patients. Other biomarkers such as blood pressure, hs-CRP, fasting insulin, and nutritional history are also reviewed.
We have devised this simple table:
Vegans, vegetarians, and semi-vegetarians are much more likely to have higher levels of carotenoids in both their skin and bone. The meat, potatoes, and sugar crowd will run relatively low.
Besides protecting your skin from ultraviolet radiation from the sun and protecting your bones from inflammation and osteoporosis, the risks of the following common diseases are likely to correlate with lower carotenoid levels:
- cognitive decline
- arteriosclerotic vascular disease (heart attacks and strokes)
- senile dementia
- generalized osteoarthritis
- type II diabetes
- depressed mood
- macular degeneration
- some common cancers
ANDI stands for “Aggregate Nutrient Density Index,” a scoring system that rates foods on a scale from 1 to 1000 based on nutrient content. ANDI scores are calculated by evaluating an extensive range of micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities.
|Green Vegetable||ANDI Score|
|1. Mustard/Turip/Collard Greens||1000|
|3. Swiss Chard||1000|
|5. Bok Choy/Baby Bok Choy||865|
|6. Chinese/Napa Cabbage||714|
|9. Lettuce, Green Leaf||585|
|Non-Green Vegetable||ANDI Score|
|4. Acorn Squash||444|
|7. Bell Pepper, Yellow or Orange||371|
|1. Cranberries, Fresh||207|
|14. Apricots, Fresh||75|
|11. Bay Leaves||271|