Super Foods: Proving Food is Your Best Medicine

superfoods.jpgWhen most people are chronically ill, the first thing they look for is the “magic-bullet” drug that will make them well.  Those who aren’t into drugs often adopt a similar approach by searching for the “magic” herb or supplement. However, when anyone suffers from chronic health problems, the wisest place to start is with food.

The body largely heals itself when it has what it needs to do the job. In modern Western culture, however, much of the available food is processed, devoid of essential nutrients. It may also be loaded with preservatives and other non-nutritive chemicals. The next time you’re at the grocery store, take a look around—the ratio of refined, processed foods to whole, natural foods is about five to one.  

The advice of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, to “let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food,” is still sound advice. If we were listening to this advice given more than 2,000 years ago, we would realize that food truly is  “the best medicine.”

Nutritional supplements only contain the nutrients we currently recognize. In contrast, the simplest of natural foods contain thousands of compounds, including many compounds with medicinal benefits.  Supplements cannot provide all the substances found in whole foods, and drugs don’t provide any.  That’s why we need whole foods to both maintain and recover our health.

Improving Our Diet without Stress

Giving up refined and processed foods can be difficult, because we may feel like we’re being deprived.  So, instead of thinking about what we need to “give up,” the best way to improve our diet is to focus on what we should add to our diet, not what we should eliminate.  All we need to do is make sure we start including more nutritionally-dense natural foods in our diet.

Many TV shows, internet sites and magazines are calling these various nutritionally-dense foods SuperFoods.  The term isn’t just hype. It’s based on the fact that these foods contain nutrients that tend to be lacking in modern diets.  SuperFoods contain large quantities of natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and other compounds that can give us more energy, promote healing and fend of disease.

Imagine… delicious foods powerful enough to lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and even put you in a better mood—without side effects.  That’s what adding more SuperFoods to our diet can do. Furthermore, as your body starts getting what it really needs, you start naturally losing the cravings for those refined and processed foods, which means you are able to give them up without struggle.  

My Favorite Super Foods

I incorporate Super Foods into my diet just about every day. My favorites are:

Berries (Blueberries, acai berries, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and goji berries). The antioxidant properties of these fruits help reduce inflammation and keep your cardiovascular system healthy.
Dark, green leafy vegetables (kale, mustard greens, spinach and Swiss chard). These foods supply magnesium, antioxidants and aid liver detoxification.
Allium vegetables (onions, garlic, leeks, chives and shallots). These sulfur-rich foods enhance liver detoxification and help your immune and cardiovascular systems.
Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower). These foods also aid liver detoxification to protect your body from chemicals and are known to reduce your risk of cancer.
Cultured diary and vegetables (yogurt, kefir, raw sauerkraut, natural pickles). These foods provide friendly bacteria (probiotics) for digestive health.

Other great Super Foods to include in one’s diet are: tomatoes, pomegranates, sprouts, nuts and seeds, wild ocean fish and freshwater trout, mushrooms, legumes (beans and lentils), sweet potatoes and yams, winter squashes, hot peppers, oats, avocados and dark chocolate (in moderation).

Super Foods from NSP

Nature’s Sunshine has a several products that contain Super Food ingredients. Although many people like to take multiple vitamin and mineral products like Super Supplemental daily, I don’t do as well as these products as I do on NSP’s Super Food supplements. Most weekdays I make a smoothie for breakfast with frozen fruits and berries, whole milk yogurt and Love and Peas or Nature’s Harvest. I sometimes add a Solstic 24 packet when I feel I need a little extra nutrition.

Nature’s Harvest provides nutrient-dense plants, fruits and herbs for health and energy. It also provides 75% of the Daily Value for 18 essential vitamins and minerals. It contains green foods, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, nutritive herbs, fiber and more. With 13 grams of vegetable protein per serving, this unique meal supplement supports the intestinal and circulatory systems. It is vegan, dairy-free and lactose-free. It's my favorite protein powder to use in my smoothies.

Love & Peas is a blend of 20 grams of protein from split yellow peas and a host of other nourishing foods. It supplies 75% of the DV of 18 vitamins and minerals. The powerful antioxidant blend supports the urinary and circulatory systems, while offering a balanced amino acid profile. It is free from common allergens, dairy, lactose and gluten, and is certified vegan. I really like Love & Peas except I've found when mixing it into smoothies containing purple and red berries, its green color makes the smoothie look unappetizing. It works better in smoothies made with lighter colored fruits like bananas and peaches.

Ultimate Green Zone complements any meal by providing extra nutrients and energy. It is easily metabolized into energy and helps promote proper bodily functions, including waste elimination and immune performance. Each serving provides 1 gram of a proprietary prebiotic fiber blend that helps feed the body’s friendly bacteria, plus enzymes to support digestion. Ultimate Green Zone tastes really good in pineapple juice, preferrably raw.

Thai-Go contains a potent mix of berries and other superfood ingredients that are rich in bioflavonoids and antioxidants. Bioflavonoids enhance vitamin C absorption and help maintain collagen and capillary walls. They also aid in the body’s immune–defense system Thai-Go delivers powerful antioxidants with a very high ORAC value.  These ingredients combine to enhance the immune system, support the cardiovascular system, and promote energy.

Because Thai-Go is very cooling, I find it a very valuable product for the hot summers here in St. George. Adding it to a little water or lemon aide and drinking it after being out in the hot sun really helps to cool down the body.

Barley Juice Powder is derived from young barley plants, which have strong enhancing functions. Barley greens are also a superior source of chlorophyll, the nutrient-rich by-product of photosynthesis that makes plants green and is chemically similar to human blood. Nature's Sunshine Canada has an amazing product called Nature's Gold, which is made from barley and one of the most high energy Super Foods I've seen.  It's a shame we can't get it in the states.

So, add some Super Foods and super food supplements to your diet and learn why food really is your best medicine.