Monday, January 31, 2011

Mother Nature - the oldest and greatest pharmacy

Well well, as promised superfoods. Firstly before spending time and money on superfoods I would make sure that you feel comfortable that your day to day diet is where you would like it to be. In order for our bodies to uptake nutrients at the optimum levels there needs to be a presence of a range of nutrients – like iron absorption in the presence of Vitamin C is ideal and protein cannot be absorbed until all amino acids are present etc. So with this in mind if you don’t feel that you are eating the best diet then I would focus on that first before adding in these superfoods, otherwise you may just be making expensive toilet visits!
So what is a superfood? A super food is a food that has high levels of minerals and vitamins. Vitamins and minerals are so deficient from our diet due to commercial farming using poor soil, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides etc, they are affected by over cooking, also processes such as dehydrating, freezing and other preservation methods can affect mineral levels. Vitamins and minerals are so important in the body; they are the X factor in taking health to the next level!
I read something interesting called vertical disease – this is where you can walk, talk and function normally – yet you are not at your optimum state of health, and this could be acceptable to you simply because you don’t realise that you could be functioning better or that you ignore warning signs, opting to wait until you are bed bound before you take action! Pushing into a new level of living is exciting and empowering, realising your full potential and living each day inspired by this is what true health is about!
Superfoods in their raw, organic state can reverse deficiencies in minerals and vitamins that lead to serious disease.  The superfoods I am going to cover today are goji berries, cacao and maca because I have tried these and felt the benefits. There are more superfoods, some of which I am currently testing out, but I feel a responsibility to get to know them better before I can talk more about them. There are many books and the internet is a great source of information if you want to find out about the other superfoods before I get to them.
So firstly goji berries, they are available at the supermarket or organic stores/ health stores. Of course organic is best as they have not had thier medicinal properties reduced. Interestingly goji berries are the number one food in Chinese medicine, coming in before 1000's of other options. Known as the berry of longevity when eaten in the right way and as a regular part of your diet they give anti-aging properties. Known as an adaptogen, this means that they have a stabilising effect giving you more or less of what you need; in particular they assist with stress by supporting the adrenal glands. They boost immune function and are an alkaline food (I will talk more about acid/alkaline balance in depth another time).
David Wolfe has described these berries as “the most nutritionally rich berry-fruit on the planet”. Goji berries are high in antioxidants,  antioxidants are important for protecting us from free radical and radiation damage, this type of damage increases degenerative disease leading to premature aging. Gojis actually allow the body to heal itself! Goji berries also boost the immune system, meaning that if infection is present the body can fight it reducing or eliminating symptoms completely. David Wolfe recommends daily intake – if this is applicable to your nutritional requirements – of about 15-45gms.
I think it is important here to state that as your diet improves and you feel good, you will also become intuitively connected with your bodies needs and then it is your responsibility to give your body what it requires.  Taking every superfood, herb and supplement is NOT good for your health. Strategically choosing what your body needs, monitoring how it makes you feel and altering intake to fulfil your desired results is what is so incredible about nutrition. No two people are the same and no one formula will suit every person. Play with foods, experiment with how your body responds to food and find a perfect combination that works for you.
Cacao – this was a complete revelation for me. As a chocolate lover I knew deep down that I was never going to completely shed this pleasure, even though I felt the ill effects of consuming it. For me dairy and sugar have powerful ill effects on my body.
Cacao is chocolate – but it is chocolate in its purest form, also known as cocoa. Cacao is a fruit and the seed of the fruit when cracked open has cacao (chocolate) in it. This is sold in organic/health food stores, the best is raw cacao – a fantastic Australian website is they are very particular and conscious of providing a top quality product.
The processes that have gone into making chocolate as we know it, leaves the cacao seed void of all its nutrients and introduces a whole host of fats, sugars, preservatives, artificial flavourings and other toxins into our bodies.
Cacao comes in a variety of forms; powder, nibs, butter (all which I have tried) and beans with or without the skin or paste. It is bitter-sweet, like dark chocolate. I don’t find the taste of the nibs pleasing alone (other hard core dark chocolate fans may find the taste enjoyable), I find that mixing the nibs, powder and butter (not like butter in the supermarket) into smoothies is a delicious treat that honestly leaves my cravings satisfied.  Cacao is a rich source of magnesium – Mother Nature’s feel good mineral. Cacao is the highest food source of antioxidants in the world! It is high in iron, zinc, manganese and chromium. All important! It contains Omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin C…even serotonin which makes us feel good.  I honestly feel a buzz when I have cacao smoothies, and it doesn’t mean I crash afterwards, it hangs around and energises me. Cacao is my (not so) secret weapon!
Finally maca, Maca is a root vegetable from Peru. I have used it in a grounded powder form in my smoothies. Historically Maca was used for strength, stamina and libido; it increases blood oxygen levels which means all functions internally run smoother. Maca has been used for woman experiencing menopausal discomfort due to its adaptogen qualities, it can normalise hormonal functions in relation to stress.  The conditions listed that Maca is known to improve are: - anaemia, chronic fatigue, depression, infertility (human and livestock), lack of libido, malnutrition, menopausal symptoms, menstrual discomfort, poor memory, stress tension. Maca is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfer, sodium and iron and contains trace minerals – zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, bismuth, manganese, tin and silicon, also has vitamins B1, B2, C and E. Not bad!
Using what the earth has provided to boost our health is very exciting. Mother Nature is the oldest and greatest pharmacy, when respected and honoured it is so simple and easy to harness and mantain great levels of vitality and ultimately longevity.
Love J x

ps. A great read on superfoods is David Wolfe's Superfood book. He goes into detail on each food and its health benefits!

No comments:

Post a Comment