Spring is here and it is a great time to re-evaluate your dietary needs, now that the weather is warmer and you will be doing more activities. What follows are some guidelines to not only get the energy needed from food but the phytonutrients and minerals that protect us from chronic disease.
- Eat a variety of coloured vegetables and fruits
- Support body pathways through food – feed your microbiome, limit exposure to toxins, balance hormones
- Eat good quality protein and fats
- Drink only quality water, herbal and green tea, minimise coffee and alcohol
- Engage the parasympathetic nervous system when you eat
Eat from the Rainbow
Flavonoids are the colour pigments found in food that have antioxidant, anticancer properties and many other health benefits, it is best to include all colours daily, adding variety from day to day. Other phytochemicals that have anticancer properties are coumarins, which are found in carrots, fennel, beets, and citrus fruit, dithiolthiones, glucosinolates and thiocyanates found in brassica family, limonoids found in celery, lemons and limes and falcarinol in carrots. All vegetables and fruits are alkaline-forming which is essential for normal body functioning and it is best to create every meal with at least 80% whole plant food. All plant foods are considered to be “superfoods”, in that they provide optimal nutrition along with added health benefits.
Support the Pathways
The Digestion pathway
The health of the gut has been paramount to traditional Asian, Graeco-Roman and Ayurvedic medicine. Optimal digestion and absorption of food is imperative when trying to maintain health as without it vital nutrients are not as readily available to us. Your intestinal microflora play a significant role in metabolism, and immunity, foods high in sugar and fat can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria which create endotoxins, which initiate an immune response leading to increased permeability of the intestinal wall and systemic inflammation which over time causes chronic disease. Maintaining the healthy bacteria of your gut means eating foods that are either natural prebiotics, which feed your helpful bacteria, probiotics which enhance the number of bacteria, as well as foods that nourish and repair the intestinal and gut walls.
|Insoluble Fibre Inulin – nourishes & heals, decreases glucose absorption and enhances fat metabolism. Bacteria use inulin to create B vitamins and vitamin K. Protects against colon cancer, and helps with magnesium and calcium absorption, food sources:
Asparagus, Jerusalem Artichoke, Onions, Garlic, Leeks
|Fermented Vegetables, Sauerkraut, Kimchee
Fermented Dairy, Kefir, Yogart (can be made from sheep or goats milk or coconut milk)
|Arabinogalactans – feeds Lactobacillus bacteria, and supports Bifidobacterium growth. Enhances immunity, has antibacterial properties that help eliminate unwanted bacteria and anticancer properties, as well as helping to eliminate excess ammonia from the body.Bacteria make short chain fatty acids such as butyrate, which has anticancer and antiviral properties, from this fibre, food sources:
Carrots, Onions, Tomatoes, Apples, Leeks, Radishes, Tumeric
|Repair and Nourish
Apple cider vinegar – encourages stomach acid
Zinc – heals gut walls and prevents leaky gut
Tumeric – Anti-inflammatory
|Resistance Starch – Chickpeas and Lentils|
|Herbs & Spices for digestive support
Peppermint, Anise*, Basil, Cardamom, Cayenne, Cinnamon*, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin*, Dill*, Garlic*, Ginger, Horseradish, Mustard Seed*, Nutmeg, Oregano*, Parsley*, Black Pepper, Rosemary*, Saffron*, Tarragon*, Thyme*, Tumeric*,
The Detoxification and Elimination Pathway
The liver is responsible for dealing with the toxins we ingest from food in the form of pesticides, fungicides, heavy metals and endocrine disrupters, metabolic wastes as well as recycling hormones and cholesterol and many other biological functions. We must support the phase 1 and 2 detoxification processes with adequate nutrients from organic, spray free sources to limit the toxic load .
|Phase 1||Phase 2|
|Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12
Branched chain amino acids – found in most proteins
Glutathione – made in cells from cysteine, glutamate, and glycine, a powerful antioxidant, also found in fresh raw vegetables, high in asparagus, avocado and walnuts
Flavonoids & Bioflavonoids – from coloured fruit and vegetables
Vitamin A, E
|Vitamins B5, B9 and B12
Amino Acids – especially Glutamine, Glycine, Taurine, Cysteine, Methionine
Flavonoids & Bioflavonoids – from coloured fruit and vegetables
|Foods, Herbs & Spices for liver support
Legumes, Oranges*, Grapefruit juice*, Brassica family, Rosemary*, Cumin*, Dandelion, Garlic*, Thyme*, Tumeric*
* Anti-cancer properties
The Hormonal Pathways
Excess oestrogen can cause breast cancer, cervical dysplasia and other complications and these can be the result of a high protein and fat diet which lacks fibre, as fibre removes excess oestrogens, being overweight can also contribute to increase in oestrogen, as well as excess alcohol consumption. Excess oestrogen can be a result of poor liver function, especially if foods include endocrine disrupters or synthetic hormones which stimulate the hormone receptors of cells. Foods high in a phytochemical indole-3-carbinol such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables help regulate oestrogen product and elimination.
Eat good quality protein and fats
Protein should preferably come from organic, grass fed or wild caught sources as they have no added hormones, pesticides, antibiotics or other toxins. Plant sources of protein include organically grown legumes, quinoa, beans, whey and pea protein. Raw milk, organic butter and unpasteurised cheese provide protein and other beneficial nutrients such as Conjugated Linoleic Acid, butyric acid and glutathione. Grass fed meat has better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, omega-3, EPA & DHA are important to hormonal health and to reduce inflammation. Nuts and seeds, are a good source of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. Olive oil has been shown to reduce risk of colon and breast cancer. Avoid transfats, margarine and other seed oils as these are high in omega 6 fatty acids which are pro-inflammatory, promotes blood clotting and enhances the allergic response leading to atopic diseases.
Keeping well hydrated with good quality water, in the words of Masaru Emoto “We must pay respect to water, feel love and gratitude, and receive vibrations with a positive attitude. Then, water changes, you change and I change. Because both you and I are water.” Green tea has many benefits for health, stimulating fat burning metabolism, anticarcinogenic, antibacterial and antiviral. Good quality herbal teas are full of antioxidants and other benefits depending on the herb.
The Nervous System
Digestion begins with the thought of food and involves the parasympathetic part of your autonomic nervous system, practising mindful awareness when eating, making time to sit and chew your food helps to activate this pathway by stimulating saliva and gastric juices. If you are stressed, rushing or in a sympathetic state your digestion is impaired, your stomach acid is decreased and blood flow to the intestines is restricted, limiting uptake of nutrients.
Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease. Hippocrates.
Finally what we eat should support our bodies vital healing force.
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