You Are What You Eat: Superfoods & Phytochemicals
If you’ve had any interactions with me about health, nutrition, or general well-being, you’ve likely heard the phrase “food as medicine.” Our diet – the foods and beverages we take in – can help or harm our health. Incorporating more phytochemicals and superfoods as meal and snack sources benefits your body – and often, your mood.
What are phytochemicals? Awesomely powerful, non-nutritive plant chemicals that have protective and disease-preventing properties. Not only do most phytochemicals have antioxidant properties that can even reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, but also, they can help turn on healthy genes and turn off unhealthy genes. Herbs and culinary spices like turmeric, and mint, and common foods like pinto beans, alfalfa and broccoli sprouts, fresh berries, and green tea – are all sources of powerful phytochemical compounds.
Superfoods are foods that are “super” high in phytochemicals. Because they’re extraordinarily high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential nutrients, they’re recognized for their disease-fighting properties. Coconut oil, spirulina, matcha, and even fava beans – are all examples of superfoods. Super grains like chia and quinoa are also great nutritive food sources. Quinoa is also a complete protein and an easy way to replace meat and still receive the protein you need. It's heart-healthy and can help when transitioning to a plant-based way of eating.
One of the things I like most about Ayurvedic nutrition is that there isn't one way of eating for everyone. Nutrition is based on your specific body type, needs for your lifestyle, and focused on where you need to come into balance right now. Using Superfoods in cooking consistently and changing those superfoods each season is an easy way to continue to stay in balance and strengthen your immunity.
Food As Medicine
Think of the adage: “You are what you eat.” It’s a modern simplified version of Hippocrates’ instruction, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Internalize either of those sayings, and you’re on your way to resetting how you think about food and overall well-being.
When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need. --- Ancient Proverb
Next to breathing, eating is our most vital bodily function. From a holistic standpoint, we nourish ourselves by converting the energy and information of our environment into the biological intelligence of our body. Ayurveda teaches that to create and maintain a healthy overall physiology:
- Our food must be nourishing.
- Our digestive power strong.
- Our elimination efficient.
Much of the illness and dis-ease we experience is due to internal inflammation of some kind.
Increasing beneficial phytochemicals and superfoods helps prevent and even reverse inflammation.
Ideal nutrition results from consuming a variety of foods deliciously prepared and eaten with mindful awareness.
Embrace the Rainbow!
Eating a multi-colored “rainbow” diet is an excellent way to get a broad spectrum of nutrients. Think of eating the colors of the rainbow. Plant foods with deep pigments are dense with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Not only that, but a colorful plate also appeals to us visually, encouraging hunger and meal appreciation. A whole spectrum of colors is represented here, for example, Beets, raspberries, carrots, oranges, broccoli, asparagus, blueberries, plums, cauliflower, and pears.
Are you ready to transform your relationship with food and move into an optimal healthy lifestyle? Let’s talk about what will work best for your specific needs and daily living.
Additional Suggested Reading:
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About the Author
Geneviève Nedder is the director and founder of Body Fundamentals, Inc., a Pilates & Wellness business founded in 1996. She is a certified Perfect Health Lifestyle educator, trained by Dr. Deepak Chopra and his team, and an Ayurvedic Consultant and Certified Health Coach. She consults clients of all ages to live an optimal lifestyle through holistic health, meditation, and movement. She teaches 1:1, group classes, and employee wellbeing programs in person and online. This year she celebrates her 30th anniversary of practicing and teaching Pilates. In addition to specialized and comprehensive Pilates certifications, Geneviève is a Chopra Health Educator.