Guest blog post by IAWP Wellness Coach Student, Denise Bradford
Achieving greater energy, vitality, physical strength, mental clarity and the avoidance of chronic disease starts with incorporating ‘Superfoods’ into our daily diet. So what are ‘Superfoods’ and how are they important allies in helping us achieve greater health and wellness?
What are Superfoods?
Superfoods are quality foods that are denser in nutrition and have a greater bio-availability of that nutrition to our bodies. Most but not all, are plant-based foods, tonics, algae and extracts chosen to enhance energy levels and encourage greater states of health and well-being. Many of them contain unique and highly concentrated substances not present in everyday foods that we typically consume.
These include elements such as;
- B vitamins
- Adaptogenic constituents
- MSM and algin
These and many more constituents go to make Superfoods full of the magical components that nourish the body in condensed doses on deep levels.
Question: Do you mean ‘organic? Aren’t organic foods more expensive?
They may or may not be organic in origin but please note, the choice of organic is always better than non-organic for the simple reason that there is less chance of pesticides and other chemicals. Basically, when it comes to the question of cost, it is worthy of considering the idea that we either ‘pay now, or pay later’ when it comes to good nutrition. Many of us are not aware that as we age we either spend more on quality food or prescriptions drugs that bring with them a host of complications and side-effects.
If Organic isn’t available, it is still better to consume a non-organic but reliably clean Superfood than not eat that food at all. Some foods are safer to eat non-organic than others due to a number of pesticides and the way in which they are grown and harvested. Some fruit, for example, is heavily sprayed with chemicals to prevent pests and mold. And when it is dried the chemicals are concentrated too. A healthy choice is Blueberries and cranberries which are not a heavily treated crop. Strawberries and grapes (thus raisins) are more likely to be exposed to pesticides where possible those ought to be bought organically.
Question: Wouldn’t it be better to eat what I liked and just take supplements?
While supplements have their uses, especially in times of increased stress on the body, it is far better to reach for natural foods that will become part of our daily lifestyle rather than depending on pills and capsules. Many foods provide more than just one benefit to our body and so a wide variety of them will greatly enhance our overall health. In the past, people were educated about food in a very simplistic manner based on the food pyramid. In fact, it has been proven that we can eat according to the food pyramid and still be below optimal levels of health through our nutrition. This is why we work to promote the highest quality foods from a broad variety in our diets.
If you wish to take supplements consider consuming them as teas or infusions rather than pills. Many of these items, particularly the more exotic ones come in powdered form and can be added to smoothies or in other recipes. In general, the closer it is to looking like food and acting like food, the better your body will respond to it like a food.
Take for example a handful of nuts. What better source of natural supplement do you really need? Walnuts, pistachios and other nuts are tasty and ready to eat at any time of the day. Better yet, eating nuts a few times a week can reduce your risk of getting a heart attack by at least 15 possibly 51%!
It is important to note that nutritious whole foods must be at the center of your nutrition plan; you can’t rely solely on supplements to do the job!
Question: Sounds like you are promoting veganism or vegetarianism. Do I have to give up eating animal products?
Not all Superfoods are plant-based although the majority are. While shifting to a more plant-based diet has some very definite benefits not everyone is willing to cut out all meats and animal products. If that is the case then it is still very possible to include the ‘Superfoods’ as a part of your weekly meal regime, in fact, once you start finding out how delicious some of these foods are, you may find that the amounts of ‘Super-foods’ in your diet will naturally increase anyway.
Question: The term ‘Superfood’ sounds fattening; Will I put on more weight?
Superfoods are in no way more fattening than other foods on a weight for weight basis. In many cases, they pack a lot of nutrients in a very small space and that is one of their greatest benefits. Small quantities eaten regularly over a week will offer more long-term benefits than large quantities eaten in a short space of time. As you become more familiar with what foods container greater levels of nutrition, you will start to see combinations that will not only taste good but will pack a big punch in meeting many of your long-term nutritional needs.
In other words, we need to get as much nutrition from as fewer calories as possible and with Super-foods this is very easy to achieve.
Question: Food is food, how can some be better than others?
Not all foods are created equal. Some so-called foods that are commonly eaten contain very little nutrients. Take Sugar, for example, it provides high calories and virtually no minerals or vitamins. Super-foods, on the other hand, are higher in nutrition and can actually change the course of your biochemistry. They help to stop damage at a cellular level that left unchecked can develop into disease. Incorporating Super-foods into your diet helps you stop the incremental changes in your body that can lead to disease and/or dysfunction. The delightful side effect to this is that you feel better, have more energy, look better, and can embrace all that life has to offer you with greater optimism.
Question: What health conditions can benefit from a change to eating more superfoods?
The foods you choose to eat each day decide whether you develop a chronic disease or a vigorous extended life. They have the ability to prevent or greatly reduce your risk of vision problems, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and a host of killers. More and more people have become aware that the best way to treat disorders such as adrenal fatigue, malnourishment, neurotoxicity, auto-immune disease and obesity is with better choices in the foods we eat. Superfoods also help to improve adrenal strength, vitamin-mineral uptake, digestive fortitude, libido, immune response, neurological capacity and/or vital organ functioning.
These statements are supported by a wide range of impressive and irrefutable body of research which has been done over the last twenty to thirty years. According to some these reports, scientists argue that a minimum of 30% of cancers are related to diet and maybe that figure may more accurately be called 70%.
Question: Do I have to make sure I eat all of these foods? Some of them I plain dislike, does that mean I will be nutritionally deficient if I don’t eat them?
Firstly we need to remember that every food provides something different: some foods are a rich source of protein or fiber but void of many vitamins and minerals. Other Super-foods contain disease-fighting phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals but no protein. The secret is to obtain what we need from our food by consuming a variety in our weekly diet.
It is important to remember that not ALL Superfoods are suitable for you and your constitution. Whereas some individuals may be able to eat foods rich in oils, other individuals, depending on their dosha type, need to eat dryer less oily foods. Having a greater understanding of your Dosha type and the foods to enhance your energy levels is worth pursuing. There is also the ‘personal like and dislike’ factor to consider. Looking at the types of Superfoods available and the benefits we get from them means that we can conveniently choose between them to find those that are good for us and suit our taste buds.
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