This food experiment was inspired by a recent consultation with a patient who had found that if she regularly ate avocados and apples, she felt significantly healthier. I theorized that the fats in the avocados were enhancing her absorption of the nutrients and antioxidants in her other veggies. The apples were maybe helpful as a source of quercetin, which has antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
I frequently have patients do food experiments to help them figure out foods that are wrong for them, but this recent patient got me thinking about new ways to find the foods that are right for a particular individual. Since we are all unique, our nutritional needs differ slightly from person to person. I always recommend a varied diet to help people get the wide range of nutrients and antioxidants they need and maybe hit on those foods that really resonate with them.
But to see if you can find a few foods that really help you feel vibrant, try this experiment with me. Check out the list of the 100 healthiest foods from World’s Healthiest Foods. Pick 10 or so foods from that list that appeal to you in some way. Try to choose a few foods that you haven’t eaten much before or are in season right now, like blueberries. For each food, eat a normal serving or two for three days in a row, while eating normally otherwise. Then try the next food on your list and so on. Take notice if there is one or more of these foods that you feel better after eating or you start liking more, or even craving! You could also find one that doesn’t agree with you. Just because it is healthy doesn’t mean it is the right food for everyone.
For each of these foods, World’s Healthiest Foods has a description of the health and nutrient benefits. Plus, there are recipes to inspire you with different way to prepare your chosen foods.
The same principle can be applied to herbs. If you take an herbal tincture or tea for three days in a row, often it will start tasting better to you (or at least more tolerable) by the end of those three days. This can be a message from your body that an herb is right for you and your tastes are adjusting to accommodate to what is healthier for you. If you don’t tolerate the taste any better, maybe try another herb that has the benefits you are looking for. Many of my friends have found that they like Kava kava better after trying it for a while, but it doesn’t agree with one so she uses California poppy instead to help her relax.
This experiment could be a great way to explore new foods and become more attuned with your body at the same time. I would love to hear about what you have learned from this experiment, so please leave a comment.
At a recent visit to her eye doctor, my husband’s granny was told that new glasses would correct some of her vision changes, but macular degeneration was to blame for the rest of her weak vision and the glasses couldn’t help with that. Macular degeneration is a form of damage to the most important part of the retina in the back of the eye. It tends to impair the central field of vision, and if it progresses, it is one of the main causes of blindness in this country. At least 3 out of 10 elderly Americans experience some degree macular degeneration. To a great extent this is a preventable condition, but it is more challenging to treat once it has developed. I am hopeful that I will be able to help his granny and wanted to share some of what I told her with all of you.
The retina of the eye is made up of pigments that are derived from colorful compounds in vegetables and fruits known as flavonoids. For our long-term eye health, it is important to eat a diet that is high in vegetables, particularly the dark leafy vegetables like kale, collards, and spinach. These are some of the dietary sources of lutein, an important carotenoid for the retina. Supplemental lutein is also available for those who have already developed macular degeneration and need to help make up for previous dietary deficiency. Another important consideration when choosing your vegetables is to make sure they are organic like all of the produce we sell at Ozark Natural Foods. The pigments in the retina are very sensitive to oxidative damage. When we consume pesticide-laden foods, these pesticides have an oxidative effect damaging these important retinal pigments. It is also helpful to consume extra antioxidants from produce and supplements to further protect the retina from damage. Examples of supplemental antioxidants are selenium, mixed carotenoids, vitamin C and E. There are also broccoli supplements available for people who haven’t been eating enough vegetables.
When I examine people’s diets, one of the most common weak areas is insufficient vegetable consumption. I understand the issues: sometimes it is the flavor of certain vegetables, the time it takes to prepare them, and I see very few people who crave vegetables like they might other foods. But I also understand the advantages of increasing vegetable intake to the recommended 3 cups per day. Vegetables and fruits are not only high in vitamins and minerals; they are also rich in diverse antioxidants that are as vital to our longevity. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of diets high in antioxidants from foods in helping prevent cardiovascular disease. When they study a single antioxidant like Vitamin C, they don’t find the same preventative benefit as with the complete package offered in produce. The natural matrix and cofactors found in fruits and veggies enhances the absorption of vitamins so that getting a few milligrams of a vitamin from vegetable might be the equivalent of hundreds in a supplement.
To help you get more of these benefits, here are some of my favorite tips for increasing vegetable intake.
- Keep it colorful. Every different color represents a different antioxidant.
- Use prewashed salad mixes to add quick salads to any meal.
- If you make smoothies, add greens to them. Try baby greens or sprouts or anything else tender that your blender can grind up.
- Throw sprouts or grated vegetables on sandwiches, wraps and salads. Broccoli sprouts highly concentrate the cancer preventing compounds of broccoli.
- Keep frozen veggies around for when you don’t have time to chop some up yourself. Freezing doesn’t destroy too many of the nutrients.
- Add flavor to nearly any vegetable by sautéing it with olive oil and garlic. Add a splash of vinegar at the end, I like balsamic.
- Use veggie sticks from carrots, celery, cucumber and/or bell pepper to dip in hummus or other healthy dips.
- If you are still not getting enough veggies, consider adding a green food powder to your regimen.