While not the answer for every illness, good whole foods fork magic on our bodies and wellness. Research on the power of food to reverse disease is beginning to accumulate and a new health trend is popping up left and right. From the consumption of superfoods, knowledge of the dirty dozen, whole 30, and many other science-based wellness lifestyle changes, it’s no doubt that adjusting your diet and associating food with wellness will transform your life. What we choose to eat has profound effects on our overall health and many argue that food is medicine.
While diet alone cannot and should not replace medicine in all circumstances, many illnesses can be prevented, treated, or even cured by dietary and lifestyle changes. On that same note, many others cannot but good food can still make a substantial impact on other areas of your lifestyle and wellness.
Food nourishes and protects our bodies and minds
Many nutrients on food promote health and protect our bodies from disease. Eating whole, nutritious food is extremely important because of their unique substances work synergistically to create an impact that can’t be replicated by taking a supplement. Here’s a break down of everything we need that can be found in food:
Vitamins and Minerals
Although our bodies only need a small number of vitamins and minerals, they are vital for our health. Unfortunately, the traditional American diet is high in processed food and low in whole foods like fresh produce. This results in a deficiency of vitamins and minerals and increases our risk of disease. For example, insufficient intake of vitamin C, vitamin D, and folate may harm your heart, cause immune dysfunction, and increase your risk of disease and cancer. Thankfully, the bellow superfoods are FULL of vitamins and minerals!
Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. It not only promotes proper digestion and elimination but also feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. High fiber foods like vegetables, beans, grains, and fruits help protect against disease, decrease, inflammation, and boost your immune system.
Protein and Healthy Fats
The protein and fat in whole foods play a crucial roll in our health and well being. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They aid immune function, muscle synthesis, metabolism, and growth, while fats provide fuel and help absorb nutrients. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in foods like fatty fish, help regulate inflammation and are linked to improved heart and immune health.
All of the above can be found in whole foods and the 10 superfoods below are phenomenial sources to fuel your mind and body!
- Dark leafy greens – dark leafy greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium, as well as several phytochemicals (chemicals made by plants that have a positive effect on your health). They also add fiber into the diet.
- Berries – Berries are high in fiber, berries are naturally sweet, and their rich colors mean they are high in antioxidants and disease-fighting nutrients.
- Fish – Fish can be a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease.
- Olive oil – Olive oil is a good source of vitamin E, polyphenols, and monounsaturated fatty acids, all of which help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Cruciferous vegetables – These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, and turnips. They are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and phytochemicals including indoles, thiocyanates, and nitriles, which may prevent against some types of cancer.
- Legumes – This broad category includes kidney, black, red, and garbanzo beans, as well as soybeans and peas. Legumes are an excellent source of fiber, folate, and plant-based protein. Studies show they can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Whole grains – A good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, whole grains also contain several B vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They have been shown to lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease and diabetes.
- Ginger – Ginger root contains antioxidants, such as gingerol, that may be responsible for many of the reported health benefits associated with this food. Ginger may be effective for managing nausea and reducing pain from acute and chronic inflammatory conditions and may reduce your risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, dementia, and certain cancers.
- Avocado – Avocado is rich in many nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Eating avocado may reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and certain types of cancer.
- Sweet Potato – The sweet potato is a root vegetable loaded with many nutrients, including potassium, fiber and vitamins A and C. They’re also a good source of carotenoids, a type of antioxidant that may reduce your risk of certain types of cancer.
Food does much more than simply provide you with fuel. It may promote or worsen health, depending on what you eat. A nutrient-dense diet of whole foods has been shown to prevent many chronic diseases and may help treat some conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. So, next time you are feeling unwell or visit the doctor, consider food as your medicine and ask your doctor which food sources can lead you to the healthy lifestyle you envision.