Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food!
Not so long ago, health problems such as heart disease, obesity, cancer and dementia were uncommon. For example, in 1900 breast cancer was almost unheard of. In 1949 it was found in 58 out of 100,000 women. Today it’s 1 in 3.
Much has been written about how our environment and lifestyle can affect our health. Pollution, smoking and processed foods are bad for us and this is a scientific fact. Whilst we can give up smoking, pollution is a little harder to avoid and processed foods can be just as hard to avoid because of the convenience they offer us. But this convenience has a price – an increased risk of developing health problems.
One of the best ways to help combat the harmful, external environment is to look after our internal environment.
It is no secret that good, wholesome, natural food is packed full of beneficial nutrients that are essential for the body’s wellbeing but with so many processed foods on the market today, taking a food supplement has become common practice. The best way to absorb these life-giving nutrients is from food – un-processed, natural food like organic fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh fish sourced from unpolluted (or little pollution) waters and if you like meat then look for an organic farmer. Basically, food that is as close to what nature intended as you can get with little or no pesticides, chemicals or pollution.
The same applies to supplements – the closer they are to the original food source the higher the absorption factor in the body and the greater effect on our wellbeing. If it is a manufactured ‘chemical substitute’ then avoid! These chemicals are ‘alien’ to the body and the reason most chemical supplements are high in concentration (not to mention they also contain lots of additives) is because they force themselves into the body’s cells to ensure a higher absorption ratio. To illustrate this I can take 100mg of natural vitamin C and my body will most likely absorb 100mg. In order for my body to get the same from a chemical substitute I have to take 1000mg. The other 900mg of chemicals and additives will stay in my body, which in itself can be harmful, until they are naturally eliminated.
Nutrients from food (or food sources) on the other hand ‘blend’ in harmony with the body and are much more likely to have the highest absorption factor.
The human body is not stupid – it know what it wants. Illness and disease are a way of the body telling us that we are not treating it correctly. Once corrected, we get better (our state of mind also has a part to play).
So let’s take a look at some of the ‘Superfoods’ that are available today.
The first forms of life on this planet were a single-celled organism called ‘algae’. It is from algae that all life has evolved. Therefore it makes sense that if we are to restore balance in the body, going ‘back to basics’ is the best way to do this. Blue green algae is easily absorbed by the body and is a nutritional powerhouse packed full of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, enzymes, essential amino acids, proteins and much more. Basically, blue green algae is about as natural as you are going to get. Some of the health benefits that have been reported are increased energy and stamina, greater mental alertness, boosts the immune system, antiviral, antibacterial, can help with weight loss and suppress cravings and is showing promising results in combating cancer. Of all the Superfoods available this should be the number 1 choice! It can be taken in tablet, capsules, liquid or powder and is also great when added to smoothies or sprinkled on cereals. Spirulina is a great alternative.
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Flaxseed (linseed) is a plant food that has one of the highest concentrations of Omega 3 (essential fatty acid) which can benefit the cardiovascular system and Lignans (phytoestrogens) which can balance hormones in both males and females. It also contains soluble and insoluble fibre which helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and is a complete protein source (essential amino acids) so is perfect for vegetarians. Many studies have been done with Flaxseed and these have shown to have great potential in preventing and combating certain cancers, especially breast, colon and prostate. About 1g a day is all you need. Use it with salads, to make bread, muffins, sprinkle on cereals… or just be creative.
Chia seeds have very similar qualities and health benefits to flaxseeds. They are a great source of protein, fibre, have antioxidant properties and are rich in Omega 3. Unlike flaxseeds however, chia seeds do not need to be ground in order to benefit from their nutrients so they have more versatility in their use with food. They are gluten free and can even be used as an egg replacement.
Not only are blueberries deliciously nutritious, they also have some amazing health benefits too. They are packed full of antioxidants with studies currently ongoing that are showing good results in their ability to help combat cancer. They have shown positive results in improving memory and it has been suggested that regular intake can even help delay cognitive problems associated with ageing. They can help with controlling blood pressure, help to regulate blood sugar levels and because of the high phytonutrient content they are great for the eyes. Blueberries can be used in numerous dishes either fresh or frozen and unlike some frozen foods that lose nutritional value from being frozen, blueberries do not.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This has to be one of the best all-rounders in terms of its versatility. It can be used to make hair shinier, as a facial toner, for removing warts, removing stains on teeth, as a flea repellent for pets and can even replace most household cleaning products. As for the body it balances pH levels, breaks up mucous, helps with heartburn, has antioxidant properties, can detox the liver and help with weight control. A lot of health problems exist because our bodies are too acidic (cancer thrives in an acidic environment) and this is also reflected by having low energy and/or moods, but even though Apple Cider Vinegar is acidic, it leaves an alkaline residue in the body. It can be used to clear up candida (and thrush) which results in greater energy, improved memory and lower food (sugar) cravings. 1-2 tbsp a day is all you need to help bring balance back to your body… although you may want to dilute it in some fresh fruit juice.
Lemons and Limes
Both lemons and limes have a similar effect in the body as cider vinegar in that even though they are acidic they leave an alkaline residue. Eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables daily has already been proven to reduce the risk of death from all causes including cancer and stroke. Lemon and limes are a good source of vitamin C which can boost the immune system acting as an antioxidant helping to combat free radicals. It is also of particular use to smokers as smoking destroys vitamin C and this is not replaced by the body. Start the day with some fresh lemon and/or lime juice in warm water. It will kick start the liver helping to eliminate toxins and improves the digestive tract. Adding to salads or using in cooking can help with digestion. Other benefits are improved skin condition, pH balancing, can help with weight loss, is a diuretic and can even boost your mood. In one study, people who had little intake of vitamin C were 3 times more likely to develop arthritis. Perfect for combating colds and flu.
Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils available today. It has long been known to benefit the cardiovascular system and is good for general health. Studies have shown that people who use olive oil regularly have a reduced risk of getting digestive tract cancers. It is also anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. When buying always go for ‘Extra Virgin’ as this means it was cold pressed and all the nutritional content has not been destroyed. Extraction by heating does destroy a lot of the nutrients. Of course it is great with salads and as for cooking, it is a personal choice. Being sensible in our eating habits will reduce the chances of getting ill, whilst consistently eating unhealthily will increase our chances of illness. A little-known fact about olive oil is it can be used as a facial cleanser, make-up remover and moisturiser. After cleansing apply more oil and leave on for about 10 minutes then wipe of the excess. It will not be greasy, will help to balance the pH in your skin and could even replace all your expensive cleansers and moisturisers.
There are many other Superfoods available of which these are just a few. You can take them all or just one. It really is just personal choice but I hope I have introduced you to some very simple ‘foods’ that have some very powerful health benefits and a lot of versatility. As I was writing this article I was very surprised to find in my research that all of the above Superfoods have shown to have benefit in combating cancer. This is purely accidental but definitely highlights how important these Superfoods are to our wellbeing. I hope this has also highlighted the importance of how eating a natural, organic diet can help to maximise the chances of a long and healthy life.
© Gary Lloyd
Superfoods by Gary Lloyd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.