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Aledo Times Record - Aledo, IL
  • Dr. Murray Feingold: Eat your vegetables; you’ll live longer

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  • For years, health organizations have recommended eating five portions of fruits and vegetables each day. Although itís recommended, studies have shown that the majority of individuals consume less than that amount.
    But does it really matter? Do people live longer by following this recommendation? Do they have fewer strokes and heart attacks? Do they develop fewer cancers?
    According to a very recent mega-study on this subject, the answer is, yes and no. The study did show that by following the recommendation, people will live longer. It also showed that those who consumed five portions of fruits and vegetables had fewer heart attacks and strokes. However, it did not lower the risk of developing cancer.
    If people who ate five portions a day lived longer, would they live even longer if they ate seven portions of fruits and vegetables?
    The study showed that eating more than five daily portions was not associated with an increase in health benefits. Although itís always possible, it appears unlikely that future studies will negate the findings of this study.
    What other studies and recommendations concerning our health will stand the test of time, since many of them do not?
    I doubt that future studies will negate the positive effects of exercise. That does not mean itís necessary to exercise hours a day. Itís been shown that exercising just 30 to 40 minutes a day, four or five days a week is enough exercise to improve a personís health.
    Obviously, not smoking, treating high blood pressure and controlling blood lipids such as cholesterol levels are all beneficial.
    But, some people do all these things and they still die at an early age. Why?
    For many of these people, genetic factors are involved. They have certain mutations in their genes, frequently inherited, that make them more susceptible to such disorders as heart disease and cancer.
    However, the good news is, because of advances in gene sequencing, many of the mysteries surrounding the deleterious effects of certain genes are being unraveled. These findings will be a giant step in determining ways to diagnose cancers and other diseases much earlier and even preventing them from taking place.
    So, if you want to live a healthier and longer life, there are preventative steps that you can take to make this happen.
    And, as genetic testing becomes more readily available, this will help you even more.
    óó
    Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.

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