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Lentils, small green or red pulses traditionally eaten in South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, are increasingly popular as part of a healthy diet. High in nutrients, lentils are a main source of protein in many cultures. High in calcium, iron, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fiber, they help strengthen digestion, circulation, and the nervous system. See Beans, Complex Carbohydrates.


• Lentils Improve Colonic Function

Canadian researchers reported that adding lentils to the standard North American diet increased fecal weight, reduced urine nitrogen, and improved colonic function.

Source: A. M. Stephen, “Effect of Green Lentils on Colonic Function, Nitrogen Balance, and Serum Lipids in Healthy Human Subjects,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 62(6):1261-67, 1995. 


• Lentils Contribute to Controlling Childhood Diarrhoea

Persistent diarrhoea is a leading cause of death in the Third World. In Pakistan, researchers reported that a nutritional therapy including khitchri, a traditional rice-lentil dish, enabled 217 of 261 children aged 6 to 36 months with this condition to recover successfully.

Source: Z. A. Bhutta et al., “Factors Determining Recovery During Nutritional Therapy of Persistent Diarrhoea,” Acta Paediatrica 86(8):796-802, 1997.


• Lentils Reduce Risk of Esophageal Cancer

A study in the Caspian littoral of Iran, an area of high esophageal cancer, associated this disease with lower intake of lentils and other pulses, cooked green vegetables, and other whole foods.

Source: H. Hormozdiari et al., “Dietary Factors and Esophageal Cancer in the Caspian Littoral of Iran,” Cancer Research 35:3493-98, 1975.



Leukemia is cancer of the blood. Acute lymphoctic leukemia (ALL), the most prevalent childhood type, accounts for 25 percent of all cancers in young people under age 15. Dietary and nutritional factors, as well as exposure to chemicals in the environment, appear to underlie many cases. See Nuclear Radiation, Whole Grains.


• High Caloric Intake

In one of the first studies of the relationship between diet and leukemia, researchers found a strong correlation between total caloric intake and both lymphoid and total leukemia incidence, especially among males. “The findings from this rigorous analysis of international data strengthen and expand the hypothesis based on previous simple correlation analyses and animal experiments that an underlying biological relationship exists between diet, particularly energy intake, and international variations in the incidence of certain types of human leukemia.”

Source: S. D. Hursting et al., “Diet and Human Leukemia: An Analysis of International Data,” Preventive Medicine 22:409-22, 1993.


• Soy Inhibits Leukemia

Genistein, a nutrient found in miso, tempeh, tofu, and other soybean products, may help prevent leukemia. Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported that in laboratory experiments, genistein killed all the detectable cells of B-cell precursor or BCP leukemia, the most common childhood cancer and the second most common adult acute leukemia.

Source: F. M. Uckun et al., “Biotherapy of B-Cell Precursos Leukemia by Targeting Genistein to CD19-Associated Tyrosine Kinases,” Science 267(5199):886-91, 1995.


• Hots Dogs Increase Risk of Leukemia

Children who eat hot dogs 12 or more times a month are 11 times more likely to develop leukemia than children who do not eat hot dogs, according to a University of Southern California study. Risks dropped with reduced hot dog consumption, but were still higher than those who ate no hot dogs.

Source: "Hazardous Hot Dogs?" Family Life, March/April 1995.



A family of phytochemicals that act as antioxidants and inhibit the formation of free radicals, thereby helping to prevent tumor formation. A type of phytoestrogen, lignans are found naturally in whole grains and grain products, seeds, and berries. Flaxseed is one of the highest sources of lignans.



The liver regulates many of the body’s digestive, circulatory, and excretory functions. Its many operations include filtering toxins from the blood; making and transporting bile; governing cholesterol metabolism; controlling blood sugar levels; converting carbohydrates, fat, and protein into one another; manufacturing hormones and enzymes; and creating proteins, especially those needed for the blood to clot.

     In Oriental medicine, the liver governs the blood and liver troubles are commonly involved with miscarriage, menstrual troubles, and menopause, as well as leukemia, lymphoma, and other circulatory disorders. The liver meridian runs through the cervix or prostate, the throat, and the eyes and is often involved with disorders in these regions.

     Barley, wheat, and rye are especially nourishing to the liver, as are almost all vegetables, including green leafy vegetables, the cabbage family, and many roots. A sour taste nourishes this organ, including lemon, lime, vinegar, miso, pickles, and sour apples. See Alochol, Cholesterol, Fat, Five Transformations, Hepatitis.



Longevity is traditionally associated with a balanced diet, hard work, and a calm, peaceful mind. In addition to a proper balance of nutrients and energy, thorough chewing and eating a small volume of food prolong life and health. See Japanese Diet, Mizuno Namboku, Tarahumara, Wheat, Yellow Emperor’s Classic, Women’s Health.


• Caloric Restricted Diet

In longevity experiments, scientists reported that mice fed a calorie-restricted diet lived an average of 55 months compared to 36 months for rodents allowed to eat as much as they wished.

      “The outcome of calorie restriction is spectacular,” said Richard Weindruch, a gerontologist at the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md. “Gerontologists have tried many things to extend life span, but this is the only one that consistently works in the lab.”

     Experiments showed that the restricted diet prevented heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure, retarded all types of cancer, eliminated or forestalled cataracts, gray hair, and feebleness, protected the genes against environmental insult, kept important enzymes operating at peak efficiency, and cut back on dangerous metabolic byproducts in the body.

     Walford himself follows a low-calorie diet of about 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day, including primarily grains, vegetables, and other natural foods.

Source: Natalie Angier, “Diet Offers Tantalizing Clues to Long Life,” New York Times,  April 17, 1990.


Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in both sexes in the United Sates. Fifteen percent of lung-cancer deaths in the U.S. occur in nonsmokers, and diet has been related to increased rates of this disease both in those who smoke and those who refrain from smoking. Exposure to asbestos, radiation, heavy metals, chemicals, and other toxins, as well as radon, are also linked to higher risk. See Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Eggs, Fruit, Smoking, Vegetables, Watercress, Women’s Health.


• Diet Reduces Risk of Lung Cancer

In a study of 413 lung cancer patients, researchers found that consumption of vegetables and fresh fruits significantly reduced the risk of developing the disease. Susan Taylor Mayne, an epidemiologist at Yale University School of Medicine, estimated that nonsmokers could reduce their risk by 40 percent by simply adding one-and-a-half servings of vegetables or fruits to their daily diet. The consumption of whole milk, meanwhile, increased the risk of lung cancer.            

Source: Susan Taylor Mayne, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, January 5, 1994.


• Dairy Increases Lung Cancer Risk

In a case control study of 308 men with lung cancer and 504 controls, Swedish researchers reported that higher consumption of milk increased risk of the disease in both smokers and nonsmokers. Lower vegetable intake also raised the risk. There was no significant risk for the disease among light to moderate smokers.

Source: R. Rylander et al., “Lung Cancer, Smoking and Diet Among Swedish Men,” Lung Cancer 14 (Supplement 1):S75-83, 1996.



Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that affects the connective tissue, joints, and tendons. Ninety percent of sufferers of this painful affliction are young women in their late teens or early twenties. Like other arthritic conditions, proper diet may help control or relieve symptoms.


• Low-Fat Diet Benefits Lupus           

In laboratory studies, a low-calorie, low-fat diet benefited mice with lupus. A researcher at the University of Florida theorized that limiting animal fat and protein, especially from beef, pork, lamb, and dairy food, would have similar effects in humans.

Source: L. C. Corman, “The Role of Diet in Animal Models of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Possible Implications for Human Lupus,” Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism 15:61-69, 1985.     



Lymphoma, or cancer of the lymphatic system, includes Hodgkin’s disease, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In both types, white-blood cells known as lymphocytes become malignant and can affect a single lymph node or spread throughout the body to other organs. See Breast-feeding, Prenatal Nutrition, Water, Whole Grains.


• Red Meat Raises Risk of Lymphoma

In a study of 35,156 women aged 55 to 69, Iowa researchers found that those who ate more than 36 servings of red meat per month were about twice as likely to contract lymphoma as women who ate meat fewer than 22 times per month. "The findings support what the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health are saying," James R. Cerhan, a researcher at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, said. "Cut back on red meat, cut back on saturated fat, and increase fruits and vegetables in the diet."

Source: B. C. Chiu et al., “Diet and Risk of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in Older Women,” Journal of the American Medical Association 275(17):1315-21, 1996.


• Dairy Linked to Lymphoid Cancers, Whole Grains Protective

In a case-control study in Italy, researchers found that high milk intake was associated with an 80 to 90 percent higher risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and soft tissue sarcomas. Ham and liver intake were linked to higher risk of Hodgkin’s disease, while butter increased the risk of myelomas almost three times. Whole grain and vegetables were protective for many lymphoid cancers.

Source: A. Tavani et al., “Diet and Risk of Lymphoid Neoplams and Soft Tissue Sarcomas,” Nutrition and Cancer 27(3):256-60, 1997.

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