“Changing the flavors you crave is half the battle in ‘crowding out’ the unhealthy foods that are
holding you back."
Each year, Americans spend almost $1,000 per person on prescription medicines*, more than any other developed country. What if the cure for what’s ailing you was in the kitchen, rather than the medicine cabinet? Just as you can increase the performance of some cars with premium gas, you can improve your body’s functions when you fuel them with better food.
Unfortunately, our national diet is heavy in processed and junk foods — loaded with sugar, salt and trans fats. Not only do they contribute to obesity, they shortchange our bodies nutritionally. However, by eating fresh, healthy food, you’ll start to feel more energetic, less stressed, have more focus, sleep better, lose weight, and notice lingering aches and pains disappearing. That’s because you’ll be giving your body the essential nutrients that all the different cells need to perform their jobs properly and ward off disease.
Many foods are directly linked to better health:
Certain plant-based foods are linked to lowering the risk for cancer, boosting immunity, neutralizing free radicals, shrinking existing tumors and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. These foods and the cancers they impact include:
Black and navy beans (breast and colon cancers), walnuts (breast and prostate cancers), garlic (stomach and colon cancers), broccoli (breast, liver, lung, prostate, skin, stomach and bladder cancers), tomatoes (prostate, breast, lung and endometrial cancers), strawberries (lung, mouth, esophageal and stomach cancers), carrots (cervical, esophageal and stomach cancers), spinach (ovarian, endometrial, lung and colon cancers).
Your heart is the hardest working muscle in your body — it beats over 100,000 times a day! Support that important job with food to keep it strong and healthy, like yams (help reduce high blood pressure), brussels sprouts (reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system), raisins and dark chocolate (lower hypertension), chia seeds (reduce bad cholesterol and plaque build-up in the arteries) and salmon (contains selenium, an antioxidant that raises cardiovascular protection).
Cucumbers are great for lightening dark circles and reducing puffiness on the skin when placed on the skin. But did you know food does even more for our skin when it’s eaten?
Oranges, carrots, cantaloupe, eggs, leafy greens, low-fat dairy products: contain vitamin A for skin repair.
Kiwi fruit, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, bell peppers: contain vitamin C to help blemishes heal, stimulate collagen production that strengthens skin.
Poultry and shellfish: zinc for the oil glands to help repair skin damage and keep it soft.
Flaxseed and linseed oil: omega-3 and omega-6 fats that stimulate anti-inflammatory responses to conditions like eczema and psoriasis; maintain your skin’s natural oil barrier to ward off dryness.
Boost Your Brainpower
It’s smart to think of the brain like any other organ of the body that needs nourishment. Be good to your gray matter with:
Avocados: guard against strokes by helping prevent blood clots, improve cognitive function, (especially memory and concentration).
Beets: contain natural nitrates that boost blood flow to the brain.
Walnuts: contain Vitamin E, an antioxidant associated with lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.
Berries: contain flavonoids, antioxidants that protect brain cells from oxidative damage.
Be Good to Your Gut
Our gastrointestinal tract (GI) is the home for over 1,000 different types of beneficial bacteria. They break down food, synthesize vitamins, ward off bad bacteria producing molecules for better digestion and help stop allergic food reactions. To eat your way to a healthier GI system, you need:
Probiotics: the “good for you bacteria” that can help reduce inflammation, and may help burn body fat and reduce insulin resistance. Probiotic rich-foods include yogurt and sourdough bread, as well as fermented vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut and brine pickles, cultured soymilk and miso paste, plus drinks like kombucha tea.
Prebiotics: are soluble plant fibers that are the fuel for probiotics. Prebiotic fiber is found in chickory root, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, bananas, yams, mushrooms, onions, plus whole wheat, barley, and rye cereal grains.
Fiber: helps lower blood cholesterol, normalize blood glucose and insulin levels and reduce your risk of colon cancer and intestinal conditions like diverticulosis. High fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
A healthy diet is your busy schedule’s best friend! Skip the caffeine and fight fatigue with lean protein. This will deliver sustained energy, healthy fats and whole grains with fiber to keep you feeling full and greens loaded with iron and B vitamins, known as the “energy vitamins”. Try:
Healthy fat: avocado, almonds and other nuts, natural peanut butter, chia, hemp and flax seeds.
High protein: Greek yogurt, eggs, salmon, edamame, beans, poultry.
Vitamins: spinach, kale, chard, watercress, brown rice, oats, quinoa, spelt, buckwheat.
It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s a SuperFood!
A superfood is a nutrition-rich rockstar considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Make these powerhouses a part of your daily diet.
Tomatoes: contain lycopene, an antioxidant not found in many other foods. Lycopene is linked with preventing certain cancers, lowering cholesterol, and protecting the skin from harmful UV rays.
Blueberries: packed with phytonutrients that neutralize free radicals (agents that cause aging and cell damage). May also protect against cancer and reduce the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Broccoli and Kale: contains a phytonutrient that appears to trigger the liver to produce enzymes that neutralize potentially cancer-causing substances and may suppress tumor growth.
Black beans: packed with protein, heart-healthy fiber, antioxidants and energy-boosting iron.
Salmon: contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation, improve circulation, increase the ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol, and may slash cancer risk. Also a rich source of selenium, which helps prevent cell damage.
Steel-cut oats: bursting with fiber, magnesium, potassium and phytonutrients. Lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, and may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Acai berries: high levels of anthocyanins, which help fight cancer and heart disease. One of the few fruits with oleic acid, the same heart-healthy fat in olive oil.
Goji berries: contain tons of vitamin C, linked to boosting the immune system.
Flaxseed: has more lignans (compounds that may prevent endometrial and ovarian cancer) than any other food.
It’s easy to introduce healthier fare into your diet. See how many superfoods you can blend into your morning smoothie. Add vegetables to every meal. Switch out red meat for lean protein like fish or tofu. Swap sweets with the naturally sweet taste of fruit. Explore the benefits of juicing. “Juicing has the ability to help an individual make two really big shifts in their relationship with food,” says Nick Pennington, Regional Sales Director for The Weekly Juicery. “It has a massive dose of concentrated plant based nutrients, so the positive physiological responses of making healthy choices are attainable very quickly. This helps people understand the physical benefit and stay motivated towards continuing to make healthy choices. Also, pure organic juice with no additives will help you train your taste buds to love and crave the taste of vegetables and fruits. Changing the flavors you crave is half the battle in ‘crowding out’ the unhealthy foods that are holding you back.”
Inspired to make your own changes? First, have a checkup with your doctor to assess your overall health condition and medications you’re on, discuss food allergies and review your dietary goals. Start slow, and get ready to enjoy the taste, texture, smell and (most important of all), the benefits of food in a whole new way!