How To Eat Your Way to Better Health According to a Doctor

By Ghuman


Eating healthy is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, and promote overall health. As a doctor, I recommend following a few simple guidelines to ensure that you are eating your way to better health. These include eating a variety of foods, limiting processed and sugary foods, and eating in moderation. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a healthier lifestyle and improved health.

How to Eat Your Way to Better Health According to a Doctor

Eating healthy is one of the best ways to improve your overall health. But with so many diets and nutrition plans out there, it can be hard to know what to eat and how to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients. To help you out, we asked a doctor for their top tips on how to eat your way to better health.

1. Eat a Balanced Diet

The first step to eating your way to better health is to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. This means eating a variety of foods from all the food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Eating a balanced diet ensures that you’re getting all the essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

2. Choose Whole Foods

When possible, choose whole foods over processed foods. Whole foods are foods that are in their natural state, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that your body needs. Processed foods, on the other hand, are often stripped of their nutrients and contain added sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.

3. Limit Sugar and Salt Intake

Too much sugar and salt can be bad for your health. Eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems. Eating too much salt can increase your risk of high blood pressure and other heart-related issues. To limit your sugar and salt intake, avoid processed foods and opt for fresh, whole foods instead.

4. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help keep your body healthy. Aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. You can also add them to smoothies, salads, and other meals to make sure you’re getting enough.

5. Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is essential for good health. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body functioning properly. You can also add other healthy beverages, such as herbal teas and freshly squeezed juices, to your diet.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is just as important as eating a healthy diet. Aim to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night to give your body time to rest and recharge. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, increased stress levels, and other health issues.

7. Exercise Regularly

Exercising regularly is another important part of eating your way to better health. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. This can include walking, running, swimming, or any other type of exercise that you enjoy. Exercise can help boost your mood, improve your sleep, and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.


Eating your way to better health is possible with the right diet and lifestyle habits. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet, limiting your sugar and salt intake, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. With these tips, you can start eating your way to better health today.

If this story piqued your interest, chances are you already know that the foods you eat impact your body. Eating is your greatest opportunity to take charge of your health because, well, you do it every day, three or more times a day. It’s simple, and almost automatic, unlike working out.

What isn’t so simple is making the right food choices among the hundreds of options in our refrigerators and pantries, grocery stores, and restaurants. That’s why meal plans, menus, and curated lists can be so helpful in guiding us toward better health.

In his best-selling book Eat to Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself, physician-scientist Dr. William W. Li, MD, lays out a strategy called the 5 x 5 x 5 framework that provides readers with a structure to add beneficial foods into their diets rather than cutting foods out.

“Five defense systems form key pillars to your health and each system is influenced by diet,” says Dr. Li, whose TED Talk, “Can We Eat to Starve Cancer,” has received 11 million views. “The 5 x 5 x 5 framework is a strategy to support your body’s five health defense systems by working a minimum of five health-supporting foods you already like to eat into five meal and snack opportunities a day.”

The 5 Health Defense Systems

The following are the five health defense systems and some of the common foods that make them stronger. Choose at least one food from each defense category to eat each day, says Dr. Li. (Note that many of the foods support multiple defense systems.)

heat burn wound on her hand.

Angiogenesis is the process our body uses to grow and maintain blood vessels. A healthy angiogenesis system is a defense mechanism that regulates where blood vessels should grow and can cut off the blood supply to tumors, according to Dr. Li. Certain foods can help your angiogenesis system remain in a healthy state of homeostasis. “You can eat to starve cancer, grow vessels to feed your heart, and stave off deadly diseases to live a longer, healthier life,” he says.

Best supporting foods: almonds, apples, berries, broccoli, cabbage, chicken (dark meat), cinnamon, dark chocolate, green tea, licorice root, olive oil, pink grapefruit, pistachios, red wine, soy, tomatoes, tuna, watermelon, and more.

woman with knee injury

Your body is constantly rebuilding. Powered by more than 750,000 stem cells throughout your bone marrow, lungs, liver, and almost every organ, your body regenerates itself every day. Some foods mobilize those cells to regenerate. Other foods can kill deadly stem cells that spark cancer growth.

Best Supporting Foods: apple peel, arctic char (and other good sources of fish oil), barley, black tea (and green tea), berries, carrots, celery, coffee, kiwifruit, onions, peanuts, purple potatoes, red-leaf lettuce, salmon, spinach, Swiss chard, turmeric, walnuts, whole grains, and more.

Partial view of woman holding paper made large intestine on grey background.

Our gut microbiome is a key defense system because “it controls our immune system, influences angiogenesis, and even helps produce hormones that influence our brain,” says Dr. Li. But the system can quickly become unbalanced. Disturbances of the gut microbiome triggered by unhealthy eating patterns, environmental factors, and the use of antibiotics have been associated with serious health conditions like obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and many more. One way to help support our microbiome is to eat microbe-rich foods.

Best Supporting Foods: apricots, arugula, blueberries and other berries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, dark chocolate, flaxseed, kale, kimchi, mushrooms, oranges, pumpkin seeds, red wine, sauerkraut, turmeric, among others.

woman sunburn

“Our DNA has surprising repair mechanisms that protect us against damage caused by solar radiation, chemicals, stress, poor sleep, and diet habits, among other insults,” says Dr. Li. “Certain foods can prompt DNA to fix itself while others turn on helpful genes, turn off harmful ones, and lengthen our telomeres, which protect our DNA.”

Best Supporting Foods: almond butter, basil, berries, bluefish, bok choy, cauliflower, coffee, flax seeds, grapefruit, green tea, kale, macadamia nuts, mangoes, nectarines, olive oil (EVOO), oysters, plums, salmon, sardines, soy, strawberries, tuna, turmeric, walnuts, among others.

sick woman blowing nose into tissue

The immune system is like a double-edged sword. It produces an army of cells that go out and defend us against the common cold and other simple infections as well as serious threats like the COVID-19 virus. On the flip side, when the immune system continues to attack even if you’re not sick or injured, it can cause what’s known as low-grade chronic inflammation that can damage our tissues over time. The right types of foods can support your immune system’s ability to resist disease while reducing the damaging inflammation.

Best Supporting Foods: aged garlic, apples, arugula, Belgian endive, berries, broccoli rabe, chamomile tea, cherries, chia seeds, chili peppers, cranberries, dark chocolate, eggplant, flax seeds, green tea, kimchi, kale, mustard greens, olive oil (EVOO), pomegranates, red wine, sauerkraut, shiitake mushrooms, strawberries, Swiss chard, turmeric, turnips, white button mushrooms, among others.

To use Dr. Li’s 5 X 5 X framework, pick your favorite foods from the above lists. Then select five foods to eat each day, making sure each one supports at least one of the defense systems. Also, be sure you’re covering all five systems across these five food choices. You can eat all five foods you’ve chosen for the day as part of one meal or spread out through all five meals and snacks or other eating occasions over the course of the day. “Just make sure you get all five foods in each day,” says Li. That’ll guarantee that you’re making clear strides toward improving your health.