2016 Sep 20 -The Unsung Heroes: Superfoods and Super Supplements
Once you’ve started on the path to holistic health and wellness and have begun to rid yourself of environmental toxins, the next step is to make sure your diet consists of organic, nutrient-rich, and information-dense foods. Superfoods and supplements instruct your genes to repair the organs and systems in your body and restore brain health, and can all but eliminate your risk for Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, and a host of other diseases of civilization.
Some foods are considered superfoods because of their high phytonutrient content and the quality of information they provide to your DNA. These are central to the diet in areas around the globe where the inhabitants have unusually high longevity and good health. (As a rule, the more colorful a fruit or vegetable, the richer it is in phytonutrients and the greater its power as a superfood.)
For maximum benefit, we should eat vegetables and fruits that are in season, free of pesticides, and locally grown. Supporting local farmers not only ensures that our produce will be fresh but also reduces the carbon footprint of transporting foods long distances. If good, fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t available locally, the best alternative is frozen organic produce: frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the height of freshness and immediately flash-frozen.
Among the healthiest of the superfoods are the cruciferous vegetables – high in fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, they activate the Nrf2 detox system inside cells and turn on the longevity genes. Bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, kale, and mustard greens are all cruciferous veggies.
Other phytonutrient-rich vegetables, herbs and spices include: Arugula (known as rocket in Europe); spinach; Swiss chard; dark, loose-leafed varieties of lettuce; kelp; parsley; cilantro; and basil. The spice, turmeric, is an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, and antimicrobial. It is used to prevent cancer, reduce free radicals, and support the heart, liver, and gastrointestinal system.
Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of healthy, plant-based fats. Oils from coconuts, walnuts, almonds, and flaxseeds are concentrated sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They confer a long list of health benefits, from lowering cholesterol to lifting depression. Other healthy nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, Macadamia nuts, and peanuts (technically legumes, and potentially fatal to those who are allergic). Hemp seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are loaded with healthy fats, proteins, minerals and other nutrients. Be sure to buy the unroasted organic variety, and store them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh and prevent mold.
Meanwhile, avocados, blueberries, and goji berries are excellent sources of nutrients and antioxidants.
Changing your eating habits is an essential part of reaping the benefits of One Spirit Medicine. But it can be challenging to follow all the dietary recommendations, especially at the times of the year when farm-fresh, locally grown produce isn’t available in your area. Nutritional supplements can help you get on the fast track to detoxing, as well as repair your gut and maintain a brain-friendly diet.
The following supplements affect the gut-brain in different ways, but they all play a role in how your brain and the organs in your body repair and regenerate: DHA-EPA, ALA, Curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric), Trans-resveratrol, pterostilbene, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and S-acetyl glutathione (A-GSH). Coconut oil, while not a nutritional supplement, is jet fuel for the brain and can be taken by itself or in tea or soup.
Nutritional supplements are powerful medicines, and should be used with caution. Be sure to check with your health-care professional before taking any supplements, and listen to your body.
My book, One Spirit Medicine: Ancient Ways to Ultimate Wellness, includes the complete guide to supplements, superfoods, and other foods that can be eaten in moderation after completing the detox period.