Superfoods to the rescue
What’s the very last thing you ate today? Was it something that will help you fight disease or feed the process?
Instead of becoming frustrated with all the foods we shouldn’t be eating, let’s stay positive and discuss what we can enjoy on a daily basis.
If you’ve been keeping up with my articles, you’ll recall how we discussed the importance of consuming foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids. These Omega3s, are fighters of inflammation.
A great way to remember what you should be eating when it comes to fighting that unhealthy fire is to “EAT the 3s” and NIX the SIXs. (Omega 6s are pro-inflammatory.)
Leafy, dark green veggies such as kale, broccoli and spinach are strong in their inflammation fighting abilities. These veggies contain Vitamin K, an anti-inflammatory powerhouse.
Having difficulty adding these superfoods into your diet? Try making crunchy kale chips, or add any of these vegetables to your smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to pack healthy nutrition into one meal. Smoothies of the homemade variety will save you time, money and won’t contain any secret ingredients that may cause you unhealthy symptoms.
Eating blueberries not only reduces the stress within your body, but they increase the chemicals in your body that fight inflammation. We have a gem right here in Stanly County where you can pick your own pesticide-free blueberries. Exercise and a snack, all rolled into one.
Tart cherries are also very high in antioxidants. You may have heard about their use when it comes to fighting symptoms of gout.
Garlic has always been treasured for its medicinal properties. It comes in handy due to its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and antioxidant properties. Not brave enough to eat raw garlic? Try roasting it for a delectable, caramelized taste.
Herbs and cooking spices are next on our list of superfoods. They too contain a variety of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that will maximize the nutritional value of your meals. Making your food taste more flavorful, without adding a single calorie is a win-win.
Many of the supplements I encourage patients to take as an alternative to their over-the-counter pills contain ingredients you will likely find in your kitchen.
Tumeric (the spice that makes mustard yellow) is quite potent when it comes to fighting fire. Cloves, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon and oregano are several of the spices you can try daily. Megadoses of spices such as tumeric and oregano are helpful when you’re actively fighting inflammation as in a stomach bug, sport injury, cold or congestion. These mega doses can be taken in supplement form, but start using what’s in your own spice rack.
Raw almonds and walnuts are not only a good source of omega 3s, but they’re packed with a variety of vitamins. Almonds have Vitamin E, which helps lubricate the joints and protect the body from inflammatory causing chemicals.
Wild caught, cold water fish such as salmon, cod, herring and mackerel are delicious and nutritious. When eating or supplementing with fish, or fish oils, be sure they come from a quality source.
Never farm raised, and the supplements should be from an environmentally monitored source. The supplements need to be free of contaminants that may be harmful to your body.
Not a seafood fan? Try adding the powdered version of the sea veggies kelp, spirulina and algae to your salad or smoothies. You will more easily tolerate the taste.
For years, meat has received a bad reputation. However, eating meat from a pastured source (meaning it is mostly and ideally grass fed and in its natural environment) will give you many vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. The quality of the meat, however, is key. Grain fed animals will only increase your exposure to those Omega 6s.
Olive and avocado oil have similar anti-inflammatory effects to ibuprofen and aspirin. These heart healthy fats are great at kicking inflammation to the curb. Where avocado oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil, you need to be mindful if using these oils to cook at high temperatures. High temperatures cause the oils to become rancid and therefore unhealthy.
Matcha tea is the most nutrient rich green tea and comes in the form of a stone ground powder. If you think it’s currently too warm for a cup of herbal tea, drink it over ice or use it as the base liquid for your smoothie. Fermented veggies such as pickles, sauerkraut, kefir and olives will help to reseed your gut with good bacteria, and a healthy gut is key in fighting disease. Shitake mushrooms inhibit oxidative stress. Flax, chia and hempseed all are great sources of Omega-3s and they too can be added to smoothies or salads.
This discussion of superfoods is by no means all inclusive, however, it’s a great start toward your health journey.
Not too long ago I had a patient tell me that she was willing to do what it takes to get healthy, however, she was unsure how to go about doing it. For years, her routine consisted of going to her physician with a complaint and being prescribed a medication to help combat this issue. It seems that many individuals get into this rut and getting away from this frame of mind is difficult.
I love being able to celebrate with my family, eat my mom’s homemade bread and other Italian specialities, however, those celebrations are few and far between and not a daily way of life. Consider how awful you feel in the days following a weekend of binge eating.
When in doubt on what to eat, consider asking yourself: Is this going to help me or set me back another several weeks? Where did this food come from? Do I recognize all the words on this ingredient list?
How often do you eat fast food during the week? I challenge you to cut that amount by half this week. Cooking at home will spare you those irritable tummy symptoms and prevent inflammation. You know what you’re getting when you cook it yourself. Your children and grandchildren are watching you.
Don’t let your unhealthy habits become their norm and do not underestimate them. Introduce them to a variety of foods even if you don’t like those foods. Try rewarding them with activities instead of food. It seems difficult to give children a treat these days, as they are exposed to them on a daily basis.
Enjoy the bounty this summer season has to offer. Plant a garden, buy local pastured meat, go to our farmers markets, eat rich, vibrant colors and start getting healthy from the inside.
Kale Chip Recipe:
1 bunch kale; you can use any variety you prefer.
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp sea salt, more or less to taste.
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp organic coconut oil. You can use coconut, olive or avocado oil. If using coconut oil it will need to be melted.
1 tbsp garlic powder
1. Wash and remove kale leaves from stalks. Save the stalks for juicing or discard.
2. Spin kale leaves in a salad spinner to remove excess water if you have one.
3. Add kale leaves to a large bowl.
4. In a small bowl add oil of choice along with turmeric and mix well.
5. Pour oil and turmeric mixture over kale leaves and mix well. I like to use tongs to do this.
6. Add nutritional yeast, sea salt and garlic powder a little bit at a time mixing to fully cover leaves.
7. Lay kale leaves on dehydrator sheets.
8. Dehydrate at 160 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Since they will not burn you can leave them in there as long as you want, even overnight.
If using an oven, bake at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes, rotating pans (if using more than one) and flipping chips. Check often and remove chips as they become crisp.
1-2 scoops of your favorite clean and dairy-free protein powder
1 cup blueberries
2 tbsp walnuts
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp chia seeds
1/2 cup ice cubes
1. Blend until smooth. Add more nut milk if needed.
Dr. Connie Eckman can be reached at Albemarle Chiropractic Clinic or Locust Health Center.