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Food As Medicine

Nourish Your Body

I was raised with the expression, You Are What You Eat. 

Consuming fewer processed foods can lead to better brain and emotional health.

Good health is best supported by eating a variety of nutritious foods every day. 

16 Superfoods

  1. Dark Leafy Greens - Folate, Zinc, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Fiber. Can be found in Kale, Swiss Chard, Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, Spinach.

  2. Berries - Vitamins, Minerals, Fiber and Antioxidants. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries

  3. Green Tea - Lightly caffeinated. Rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds which have strong anti-inflammatory effects.

  4. Eggs - B vitamins, Choline, Selenium, Vitamin A, Iron and Phosphorus. Loaded with high-quality protein. 

  5. Legumes - B Vitamins, various minerals protein and fiber. Beans including soy, lentils, peas, peanuts and alfalfa.

  6. Nuts and Seeds - rich in fiber, vegetarian protein and heart healthy fats. Common nuts and seeds include: Almonds, Pecans, Pistachios, Walnuts, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts. Peanuts — technically a legume, but often considered a nut. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds.

  7. Yogurt and Kefir - Protein, Calcium, B vitamins, Potassium and Probiotics.

  8. Garlic-  Manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Selenium and Fiber.

  9. Olive Oil- Monounsaturated fat, Vitamin E, Protect against cellular damage and oxidative stress.

  10. Ginger- Antioxidant

  11. Turmeric - Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory. Aids wound healing and pain reduction

  12. Salmon- healthy fats, proteins, B Vitamins, Potassium and Selenium. Best source of Omega-3 Fatty acids. 

  13. Avocado - Fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Similar to olive oil, avocado is high and monounsaturated fats, oleic acid is one of the most predominant MUFA in avocado, which is linked to reduce inflammation in the body 

  14. Sweet Potato- Potassium, Fiber, Vitamin A and C.

  15. Mushrooms - Vitamin E, Potassium, Fiber and several antioxidants. Button, Portobello, Shiitake, Crimini and Oyster. Due to their unique antioxidant content, mushrooms may also play a role in reducing inflammation. 

  16. Seaweed- packed with vitamin K, Folate, Iodine and Fiber. This ocean vegetable is a source of unique bio active compounds -not typically present in land- vegetables which may have antioxidants affect.

Medicinal Effects of Food

An inadequate diet can lead to fatigue and lead to stress and depression. Sugar and processed foods can lead to inflammation throughout the body and brain, which may contribute to mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. When we’re feeling stressed or depressed, it’s often processed foods we reach for in search of a quick pick-me-up. 

Food as medicine

To boost your mental health, focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables along with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon. Dark green leafy vegetables in particular are brain protective. Nuts, seeds and legumes, such as beans and lentils, are also excellent brain foods. 

A Healthy Gut 

Researchers continue to prove the old adage that you are what you eat, most recently by exploring the strong connection between our intestines and brain. Our guts and brain are physically linked via the vagus nerve, and the two are able to send messages to one another. While the gut is able to influence emotional behavior in the brain, the brain can also alter the type of bacteria living in the gut.

According to the American Psychological Association, gut bacteria produce an array of neurochemicals that the brain uses for the regulation of physiological and mental processes, including mood. It’s believed 95 percent of the body's supply of serotonin, a mood stabilizer, is produced by gut bacteria. Stress is thought to suppress beneficial gut bacteria.

Mindful Eating 

Paying attention to how you feel when you eat, and what you eat, is one of the first steps in making sure you’re getting well-balanced meals and snacks.

Brain Food

Your brain and nervous system depend on nutrition to build new proteins, cells and tissues. In order to function effectively, your body requires a variety of carbohydrates, proteins and minerals. To get all the nutrients that improve mental functioning, nutritionists suggest eating meals and snacks that include a variety of foods, instead of eating the same meals each day.

Here are the top three foods to incorporate into a healthy mental diet:

  • Complex carbohydrates — such as brown rice and starchy vegetables can give you energy. Quinoa, millet, beets and sweet potatoes have more nutritional value and will keep you satisfied longer than the simple carbohydrates found in sugar and candy.

  • Lean proteins — also lend energy that allows your body to think and react quickly. Good sources of protein include chicken, meat, fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts and seeds.

  • Fatty acids — are crucial for the proper function of your brain and nervous system. You can find them in fish, meat, eggs, nuts and flaxseeds.

Transitioning to a diet based on whole foods can improve your health in countless ways. Foods that offer particularly powerful benefits include:

  • Berries. Numerous studies have found that nutrients and plant compounds in berries combat disease. In fact, diets rich in berries may protect against chronic conditions, including certain cancers 

  • Cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale contain a wide array of antioxidants. High intake of these vegetables may decrease your risk of heart disease and promote longevity 

  • Fatty fish. Salmon, sardines, and other fatty fish fight inflammation due to their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which also protect against heart disease 

  • Mushrooms. Compounds in mushrooms, types of which include maitake and reishi, have been shown to boost your immune system, heart, and brain 

  • Spices. Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and other spices are packed with beneficial plant compounds. For example, studies note that turmeric helps treat arthritis and metabolic syndrome 

  • Herbs. Herbs like parsley, oregano, rosemary, and sage not only provide natural flavor to dishes but also boast many health-promoting compounds 

  • Green tea. Green tea has been thoroughly researched for its impressive benefits, which may include reduced inflammation and lower disease risk 

Nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, honey, seaweed, and fermented foods are just a few of the many other foods studied for their medicinal properties 

Simply transitioning to a diet rich in whole foods like fruits and vegetables is the simplest way to reap the medicinal benefits of food.

Understanding Macronutrients

The three macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats and protein.

These nutrients are needed in relatively large amounts. They provide calories and have various functions in your body.

Here are some common foods within each macronutrient group: 

  • Carbs: 4 calories per gram. All starchy foods like bread, pasta and potatoes. Also includes fruit, legumes, juice, sugar and some dairy products.

  • Protein: 4 calories per gram. Main sources include meat and fish, dairy, eggs, legumes and vegetarian alternatives like tofu. 

  • Fats: 9 calories per gram. Main sources include nuts, seeds, oils, butter, cheese, oily fish and fatty meat.

How much of each macronutrient you should consume depends on your lifestyle and goals, as well as your personal preferences.

Understanding Micronutrients

Micronutrients are important vitamins and minerals that you require in smaller doses.

Some of the most common micronutrients you should know include: 

  • Magnesium: Plays a role in over 600 cellular processes, including energy production, nervous system function and muscle contraction.

  • Potassium: This mineral is important for blood pressure control, fluid balance and the function of your muscles and nerves 

  • Iron: Primarily known for carrying oxygen in the blood, iron also has many other benefits, including improved immune and brain function 

  • Calcium: An important structural component of bones and teeth, and also a key mineral for your heart, muscles and nervous system 

  • All vitamins: The vitamins, from vitamin A to K, play important roles in every organ and cell in your body.

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