Nourishing Stuff

Eat the Rainbow - research shows your life depends on it November 29 2013, 0 Comments

 

And why is it so important to "Eat the Rainbow"?

Even if you wouldn't dream of eating artificially coloured sweets, could you get away with just eating broccoli or cabbage with every meal instead of all the coloured veg and fruit? Well, eating broccoli and cabbage every day is certainly better for you than not eating any vegetables at all. The chlorophyll (green pigment) in broccoli and other green veg is one of nature's most potent detoxifiers and broccoli and cabbage belong to the Brassica family (along with kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower) and contain powerful detoxifying sulphur compounds which help recycle and regulate hormones such as oestrogen among other things. So you definitely want to get plenty of broccoli and cabbage in your diet every week.

However, recent research in the Journal of Nutrition has indicated that each different plant food has a different 'positive health message' to tell our genes and we want ALL of that positive information in order to keep switching on the positive genetic expressions that promote good health and keep all the negative disease-promoting genes switched off. So for optimum health it really is key to eat a wide range of different coloured plant foods - mostly vegetables, herbs and spices with 1-2 pieces of fruit - to maintain that steady dialogue of health promotion and disease prevention.

Researchers Thompson HJ et al. concluded in 'Dietary Botanical Diversity Affects the Reduction of Oxidative Biomarkers in Women due to High Vegetable and Fruit Intake' that:

"Botanical diversity plays a role in determining the bioactivity of high-VF (ed: vegetable and fruit) diets and that smaller amounts of many phytochemicals may have greater beneficial effects than larger amounts of fewer phytochemicals."

What will each colour do for you?

Red phytonutrients eg. Lycopene, Astaxanthin and Capsanthin in tomatoes and redcurrants - support a healthy heart and circulation, urinary tract health and optimal memory function.

Yellow/Orange phytonutrients eg. Beta-carotene and Bioflavonoids in carrots, pumpkin and citrus - support eye health and strong immunity.

White phytonutrients eg. Allicin and Favonol in onions and garlic - support a health heart and cholesterol levels.

Green phytonutrients eg. Chlorophyll, Zeaxanthin, Folate and Lutein in kale and spinach - support strong bones and teeth, healthy eyesight and detoxification.

Blue/Purple phytonutrients eg. Anthocyanin, Quercetin and other Phenols in blueberries and red cabbage - support healthy ageing, urinary tract health, immunity and optimal memory function.

Variety really is the spice of life so to live a long and happy one, be sure to make your meals colourful.  

If you're not sure how to get more colour into your diet, book a nutritional therapy consultation with me and we can work it out together.


Feeling a bit bloated after a heavy breakfast? Ease into the day with a Green Smoothie October 22 2013, 0 Comments

 

There are so many different recommendations on what to eat and when that you'd be forgiven for getting totally confused and stressed out about it (which, incidentally, won't help your digestion at all, because stress => release of adrenal (stress) hormones which => down-regulation of digestive juices and processes so that you can run away from that stressful tiger/9am meeting which can => bloating, gas and unhealthy fermentation of poorly digested food in the intestines).

It might take a bit of time to figure out exactly what kind of food, and in what ratio, serves YOU best for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the meantime, however, if you're feeling a little sluggish or just want to clean things up a bit, adding a green juice/smoothie in first thing in the morning a few times a week can help to supercharge and super cleanse your digestive system.

And since, as the father of medicine, Hippocrates, notably observed, "all disease begins in the gut", keeping it clean should definitely be a priority. You might argue that our digestive system (including the liver) has a natural capacity for "self cleaning". And, 1,000 years ago, that might have been credible. However, our poor 21st Century bodies are faced with a barrage of toxic chemicals on a daily basis, from food (additives, preservatives, flavourings, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, heterocyclic amines from chargrilled meat etc etc), the environment (car exhaust fumes, industrial by-products, chlorinated water, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, electrosmog, cigarette smoke), our homes (parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulhate, PEGs etc in cosmetics and body care, hairsprays, hair dyes, formaldehyde, brominated flame retardants and plastics in our furniture)... and our livers certainly WERE NOT designed to cope with all that day in, day out.

Also, it takes a lot of effort to digest a big meal - mechanically and chemically (enzymatically) so it's good to give the digestive system a helping hand now and then and a quick green smoothie is an easy way to do it. Liquids travel through the stomach and small intestines without making too many demands for stomach acid or enzymes (hydrochloric acid and pepsin are released in the stomach in response to proteins largely) and the raw plants in the smoothie provide some enzymes of their own so they don't require so many to be made and released from the pancreas.

You can really blend any greens you like. They all contain heaps of energising B vitamins, including natural folate, as well as other vital vitamins and minerals. Greens do leave something of a bitter taste by themselves but this can quickly be masked by fresh lemon juice, apple, berries, mint leaves and/or ginger. Don't have any more fruit than a handful of berries or 1 medium apple per serving as your liver doesn't cope well with any more of a fructose hit than that and we wan't to keep blood sugar levels nice and stable, especially first thing in the morning because it can be hard to get off the blood sugar roller- coaster once you set off in the wrong direction...

How to make my Super Quick & Easy Green Smoothie

Ingredients (organic or soaked in vinegar/citric acid to remove as many pesticides/herbicides/fungicides as possible)

Enough for 2 people or half can be saved in a sealed container and refrigerated for breakfast the next day.

  • 1/3 cucumber
  •  4 radishes
  • 1-2 medium apples
  • 4 large lettuce leaves
  • 1 handful mixed spinach, rocket & watercress
  • 1-2 inches fresh ginger
  • 60ml Organic aloe vera juice (Amazon Associates link)

Optional metabolism-boosting/cleansing extras: turmeric powder, chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass, cayenne powder/tincture.

Equipment
  • Blender 
  • Glass
  • Glass jar/protein shaker to keep half in fridge if not using all now
Directions
  • Roughly chop ingredients and add gradually to blender
  • Pour into glasses and drink - ideally through a straw to spare your tooth enamel/reduce sensitivity.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers.

And that's all there is to it. Raw, enzyme-rich greens ready to drink in 5 minutes. And the beauty of having fruit and/or liquid food on an empty stomach is that it goes straight through your digestive system in approx 20-30 minutes. So, if you're still hungry after your juice (and chances are you will be, at least until you get used to it) you can follow it half an hour later with some avocado and salad or some eggs/(nitrite-free bacon) and steamed veggies and still be doing your digestive system a real favour.

American nutritionist Kimberly Snyder is seriously into smoothies and eating 'light to heavy' throughout the day so if you want to learn more about it, check out her website.

Are you already a green juicer? What are your favourite blends? Post them below if you're happy to share.