by Courtney Coleman |
Back in the ‘90s, spirulina, bee pollen, and bee propolis were the kinds of foods termed “superfoods” because they’re the foods that have everything the body needs to thrive, so, theoretically, you could live on any of them, exclusively!
Then, foods like chia seeds, and whole grain amaranth and quinoa came on the scene as “superfoods” because of their super-high protein content.
Now we hear about foods with the widest spectrum of vitamins and minerals being superfoods like sweet potato, kale, and white mulberries.
Foods highest in omega 3 fatty acids have also been called superfoods, like flax seeds, hemp seeds, and krill oil.
And of course, there’s the most popular, current, superfood camp, which is all about the most antioxidants (cancer-fighters) like blueberries, goji berries, green tea, turmeric, and raw cacao.
Of course, it’d be ideal to get all of these foods into our bodies regularly, but life doesn’t usually unfold so conveniently, say, with affordable natural food stores on every corner.
But there’s hope! One of the most credible natural health gurus today, Dr. Joseph Mercola, lists several of the more common foods that we can get at most grocery stores and farmer’s markets, in certain combinations as “superfoods” because they synergistically maximize antioxidant potency and nutrient profile and nutrient assimilation. Awesome!
Here they are…You may want to keep these combinations in mind for your next recipe…
Broccoli + Tomatoes...When rats were fed diets containing 10 percent broccoli, they had a 42 percent decrease in the growth of prostate cancer tumors. When they were fed a diet containing 10 percent tomatoes, the growth rate dropped by 34 percent. But when the rats were fed a diet with 10 percent broccoli and 10 percent tomatoes combined, the tumor weights decreased by 52 percent!
Tomatoes + Olive Oil…Lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant in vegetables like tomatoes, is one of the key reasons why tomatoes are so good for you. However, when you eat tomatoes with olive oil, the antioxidant activity of the lycopene is greatly increased.
Brussels Sprouts + Olive Oil…Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which your body uses to make isothiocyanates. These activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body. Brussels sprouts have been linked to the prevention of a number of cancers, including colon cancer, ovarian cancer, and others. Brussels sprouts are also rich in vitamin K, with about 243 percent of the recommended daily value in one cup. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient, so eating Brussels sprouts along with a healthy fat like good quality virgin olive oil will help increase its absorption.
Raw Dark Chocolate + Apples w/the peel…Eating apples is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, an association that’s thought to be related to their content of antioxidant flavonoids, including the anti-inflammatory quercetin. Dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidant catechins, has also been found to support heart health. When paired, dark chocolate and apples have been shown to help break up blood clots. For chocolate, the closer your cocoa is to its natural raw state (cacao), the higher its assimilate-able nutritional value.
Green Tea + Black Pepper…Black pepper contains a substance called piperine, which not only gives it its pungent flavor, but also blocks the formation of new fat cells. When combined with capsaicin in cayenne pepper, black pepper was also found to burn as many calories as taking a 20-minute walk. Brewed tea with garlic, ginger, and black pepper makes a perfect marinade for meats or seafoods.
Turmeric + Black Pepper…Turmeric contains curcumin, the polyphenol identified as its primary active component and which exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, which include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. If you pair the turmeric with black pepper, it improves the bioavailability of curcumin by 1000 times! WOW!!
Kale + Almonds/Macadamias/Pecans…Just one cup of kale will flood your body with disease-fighting vitamins K, E, A, and C, along with respectable amounts of manganese, copper, B vitamins, fiber, calcium, and potassium. Vitamins K, E and A are fat-soluble, which is where the raw nuts come in to help ensure proper absorption. Also, a study revealed that a one-ounce serving of almonds has a similar amount of total polyphenols (antioxidants) as a cup of steamed broccoli or green tea.
Black Beans + Red Bell Pepper (or other iron foods with vitamin C foods such as cayenne or lemon juice)…Combining black beans or any iron-rich foods with a vitamin C-rich foods may increase the absorption of food state iron by six times!
Brown Rice + Almonds (or other calcium foods such as brazil nuts, cashews, and unhulled sesame seeds)…Brown rice is high in magnesium, which helps the body assimilate calcium. Food-state vitamins and minerals are by far the best way in which the body recognizes and utilizes these nutrients – the way in which nature intended them to benefit us. Chelated vitamins and minerals however, found in inexpensive supplements, actually do more harm to the body than good.
Wild-Caught Salmon + Collard Greens and/or Garlic…Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium. In fact, if you have a vitamin D deficiency, it can cause a defect in assimilating calcium into the collagen matrix in your skeleton, leading to aches and pains. Collard greens being rich in vitamin K and phytonutrients that may help lower oxidative stress, fight inflammation, and prevent cancer.
Here’s the link to Dr. Mercola’s original article, for more links to the sources of the research.
by Courtney Coleman |
Bitter Greens such as kales, collard greens, arugula, mustard greens, and dandelion greens, are not only amazing nutritional powerhouses, but they aid digestion, reduce sugar cravings, help metabolize fats, and work many other magical effects on the human body.
Half a plateful of steaming kale is what I believe is missing alongside our proteins, unrefined carbohydrates, and good fats everyday in this modern world of fast food & packaged food…especially alongside rich holiday meals! Rural Asian and Indian people who experience vital health late into life, eat diets of 60-70% seasonal vegetables, and one person commonly eats an entire bunch of bitter greens daily.
Bitter greens help cleanse and tonify (strengthen) the liver and gallbladder by pushing bile out of the gallbladder and into the stomach. This action aids in the digestion of fats and proteins, especially high-purine proteins like meats. Bitter greens also act as a gentle diuretic to purify the blood and thusly help cleanse the entire body, which often leads to weight loss, clear skin, normal bowel function, and lower blood pressure. Along with all these wonderful effects, bitter greens also provide us with a wide scope of bio-available minerals (especially iron), they help lower our serum cholesterol, and they greatly reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup.
LIST OF BITTER GREENS
All Kales & broccoli family dark leafy greens (always steam or cook at least lightly)
Beet Greens, Spinach, & Swiss Chard (always eat raw instead of cooked)
Turnip & Radish Greens
To counter the bitter taste, try lightly sautéing greens with a small amount of salt and good fat. Adding unrefined salt and high quality fat like virgin coconut oil when cooking reduces bitterness, enhances digestibility, and even releases nutrients for easy mineral absorption. Also, as a general rule of cooking, the sweet flavor balances the bitter flavor, so cook them or serve them mixed with bite size pieces of carrot, yam or winter squash.
RECIPE: Steamed Veggies & Dark Leafy Greens
In a deep, medium sized stainless steel saucepan, place a fitting steamer basket and about 2 cups of water in the bottom. Wash and slice about 2 cups of any sweet veggies like carrot, yam, fennel bulb, or winter squash into 1/4 inch pieces. Place the sweet veggies in the bottom of the steamer basket, and steam for about 3 minutes until almost tender. Next, add about 2 cups any medium-dense veggies like broccoli, fresh green bean, bok choy, or cauliflower, etc. and steam for another 2 minutes. Lastly, stuff big handfuls of washed & chopped kale, collards, or any cruciferous greens on top of the other veggies, cover again, and steam for another minute. Uncover to make sure all greens are slightly wilted and wet-looking. Steam another 30 seconds if not. Remove lid immediately, and carefully (so you don’t burn your hands with the steam) turn all the veggies out onto a plate. Drizzle everything with lemon juice and a high-quality virgin olive oil. Voila! After you eat this with your heavy holiday meals, or with your meats or eggs or brown rice/beans/avocado, you’ll feel invincible all year long!
Here’s some salad dressing ideas which are great for the kinds of bitter greens which should be eaten raw due to the oxalic acid content like spinach, beet greens, & Swiss chard.
Sweet Fennel Salad…2 cups each: chopped celery, grated carrot, and sliced fennel bulb. Add 3 cups each chopped arugula and spinach, and toss.
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing…3Tbsp olive oil, 3Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2Tbsp lemon juice, and 1tsp grade B maple syrup or raw honey.
Italian Salad Dressing…Making this dressing is so simple – it just depends on your preference for each ingredient. You can make it extra lemony or extra herby if you like. Here’s the basics: 3Tbsp good quality virgin olive oil, 1Tbsp lemon juice OR raw apple cider vinegar and finely minced fresh herbs of choice (marjoram, sage, rosemary, parsley, dill, fennel, etc).
Good Quality, Extra Virgin Olive Oil drizzled over salad with a squeeze of Meyer Lemon Juice is simple & tastes fantastic!
For a No-Sugar, but Pleasantly Sweet Dressing…3Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar, and 5 drops Nu Naturals brand vanilla stevia.
by Courtney Coleman |
For those coming off the standard American diet, colon cleansing is one of the most important first steps on the road to vitality. The colon works with the liver and lymphatic system to keep our entire bodies free from toxic accumulations. It’s the first organ you’ll want to cleanse, so that there is a clear pathway out of the body when you finally decide to do a liver or gallbladder cleanse, etc.
You see, every time we’ve eaten mucos-forming food like pasteurized dairy products especially melted cheese, refined flour products, meats, and heavy fats/oils (sound like the standard American diet?), a thin layer of sticky matter adheres to the walls of our colon. These layers (called peutrifecative matter, which is literally decaying food that houses parasites) builds up, and the passageway through the colon gets smaller and smaller. Over time, the layers get harder and dryer as the colon is constantly working to dry out feces so that they’re solid and thusly passable. These layers block the body’s cleansing action of the colon, liver and lymph, and we then experience lethargy, headaches, distended abdomens, irregular bowel movements, acne, and a whole host of other symptoms of systemic toxicity. The colon’s peutrifecative matter can get very thick over time. There has actually been a 40lb colon removed from a man!
Intense colon cleansing is usually most needed when initially getting off years of eating the standard American diet. A whole foods diet is gently cleansing over time, so, those who have been mostly off refined/processed/fast foods for several years, won’t need intense colon cleansing, but gently cleansing the colon, at least yearly, benefits everyone.
A whole food diet, by the way, looks like this:
- seasonal, regional vegetables (some raw, some cooked) as the base of the diet (50-70% of diet)
- either soaked or cultured, low-glycemic, whole grains
- grass fed/organic animal proteins when needed for warmth or building strength (during pregnancy, for people who work hard physically, or according to ancestry – type O blood)
- getting 60-100oz per day of re-mineralized water
- unrefined (extra virgin) oils and moderate amounts of saturated fats
- whole sea salts like Celtic, Himalayan pink, or Real Salt
- small amounts of unrefined sweeteners like grade B maple syrup, raw honey, coconut sugar, sucanat/rapidura sugar, etc.
Colon cleansing is NOT a fasting cleanse, and can be done comfortably from 1 week to 3 weeks. But you don’t want to eat any mucos-forming food (mentioned in the second paragraph above) while cleansing your colon, because the herbs you’ll be taking need to be able to reach the walls of your colon to break up and help you pass out the old matter, instead of those valuable herbs getting caught up in mucos-forming foods.
“But where do I get my protein during the cleanse?” you may ask. What I’ve found works best is 1-2Tbsp spirulina or chlorella powder daily. You see, these blue-green algae have everything your body needs. That’s why they call them superfoods – you could live well on them exclusively. They will give you enough protein and other nutrients while on your cleanse to curb your appetite for building foods, and the chlorophyl they contain is VERY cleansing. Midway through your colon cleanse, when you start getting the old matter out and you’re feeling lighter, more energized, and your belly is flatter than ever, you’ll get excited and want to keep doing it for whatever length of time feels right to you. Your body will tell you when it’s time to quit the cleanse.
I have done various cleanses, and I wholeheartedly believe in the revitalizing and re-balancing powers of cleansing. I’ve come up with step by step recommendations and guidelines for this first and most important cleanse, the colon cleanse, which I give participants in my information-packed class, “Whole Food Cooking for the Optimal Woman”. If your intuition is telling you that you need to colon cleanse, I hope you’ll join me for this class on Sunday February 7th, 2-4PM at Whole Foods, SLO to hear my personal experience with colon cleansing, as well as diet and lifestyle tips for natural hormone balance, calcium and iron uptake through various combinations of whole food, strategies for getting off sugar, and to receive support and guidance on your path toward reaching your highest health potential.
by Courtney Coleman |
Gluten & Sugar Free Lemon-Lavender Poppy Seed Cake
For about the past 5 years in the healing foods community, there have been many proponents for a no-grain diet. Personally, I’ve enjoyed sprouted and simmered (or fresh ground and cultured), low-glycemic, whole grains like millet, amaranth, buckwheat, and brown rice as staple foods in my diet for 20 years with excellent health. But, I’ve recently had to re-evaluate which types of whole grains are actually serving my body best, since experiencing an unrelenting bout of rosacea acne since June.
Concerning ALL grains, I believe that there are definitely the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because of the genetic modification, the high glycemic aspect, and general overuse of hybridized, refined, gluten-brimming wheat and GM corn in processed foods, the regular consumption of these grains (as well as the other high-glycemic foods), are major factors in many modern diseases.
This article is a tad longer than usual because, in covering ALL grains, several factors need to be addressed such as: glycemic aspect of various grains, genetic modification, gluten-sensitivity, traditional preparation of grains vs. modern use of grains in processed foods, a whole foods diet and lifestyle, individual body type’s different needs, mindfulness, and finally, cereal grains vs. grain-like seeds. So, if you’re in for the ride, big thanks for your time, and hang on!
Why Are GM Corn And Modern Wheat So Ugly?
Beside the fact that both corn and wheat are very high glycemic, commercially grown corn is extremely bad for us because, like most other genetically modified (GM) crops, it contains pesticide. This is very maddening to me, considering that there are billions of people who eat processed foods containing corn as a main ingredient daily. Sterility and various cancers in mice fed GM grains were the first adverse effects discovered. Today, about 45% of modern people end up with some type of cancer, and millions of women can’t get pregnant.
One of Dr. Mercola’s articles, is about the dangers of eating modern wheat. Wheat now contains 80% more gluten than ever before, due to it’s hybridization over recent decades. With increasing exposure to gluten (a protein in the bran of wheat termed “wheat germ aglutinen” or “WGA”), more and more of us are becoming gluten sensitive, and many of us are even gluten intolerant. Gluten exists in large amounts in modern whole wheat, and in lesser but still significant amounts in refined wheat, spelt, barley, rye, kamut, and triticale. WGA has been recently proven to not only cause systemic inflammation (which has been known for years), but is now considered cardiotoxic and neurotoxic!
Wheat Sensitivity Symptoms
Each of us is sensitive to gluten in widely varying degrees, and with widely varying symptoms. For instance, if I eat a piece of wheat bread, I get a bit of a bloated feeling, as if I ate too much. For the past year since living with my new sweetie Matt who ISN’T wheat sensitive, I have been unwisely dabbling in wheat a few times a week (pizza, lamb shawarma sandwiches, beer, etc), unlike when I was with my last partner for 3 years who is borderline celiac, I ate almost no wheat. So, in eating about 1000% more wheat over the last year, it’s reasonable that I’ve developed a wheat allergy-induced rash (rosacea), which is a common symptom of wheat sensitivity.
Concerning the widely varying symptoms of wheat allergy, I know someone who, if he eats one bite of something made with any gluten grain, he experiences a cardiac inflammatory response causing heart arrhythmia. Also, he lost 50lb in one year, simply by quitting eating gluten grains! Another friend of mine can’t even have a crumb of anything made with a gluten grain, or she ends up in the bathroom all night with loose bowels. If she accidentally has a full bite of anything made with a gluten grain, her throat begins to close up and she has to go to the emergency room.
Wheat sensitivity symptoms vary as widely as the severity of them, from stomach pain and intestinal diseases/digestive disorders, to asthma and skin rash, malnutrition, to chronic pain and inflammation (arthritis), to heart arrhythmia, to infertility, to brain chemistry imbalance.
Alternate Grains and The Big Picture Of Diet And Lifestyle
There are many other, wonderfully nutritious, low glycemic, whole grains like millet, amaranth, brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat that are gluten-free, full of vitamins and minerals, and which you can you can make even more nutritious with certain traditional methods of preparation.
Okay. I believe that every part of the picture must be considered, before coming to the conclusion that all grains are bad for all people. Corn, wheat, white rice, oats, barley, rye, kamut, and triticale are all high glycemic grains. Thanks to articles like this one by Dr. Ron Rosedale, we know that these many diseases are all brought on by a high-glycemic diet: diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, thyroid dysfunction, depressed immunity, hormone and brain chemistry imbalances, depressed immune function and systemic inflammation. Wow!
And, of course, I believe it’s important to look at all the other major factors in the causes of disease: 1) the regular intake of refined salt, refined grains, and refined sugars, and refined vegetable oils (canola, corn, soy oils, etc.) via processed foods, restaurant food, and fast food, 2) the lack of seasonal regional vegetables (especially the dark leafy greens) as at least 50% of the diet, 3) the lack of sufficient daily hydration with re-mineralized water, 4) the over-consumption of pasteurized dairy and commercially raised meats, 5) sedentary lifestyles, and 6) the polluted, stress-filled lives we live with socially unbalanced, competitive, and emotionally void standards of behavior.
On the other hand, or should I say, on the ‘ancient hand’, a whole foods diet looks like this: seasonal regional vegetables as 40-60% of the diet, low glycemic whole grains prepared in the ways of our ancestors, soaked and simmered beans, fresh raw nuts and seeds, small amounts of seasonal, regional fruit, moderate amounts of whole sea salts, extra virgin or “unrefined” natural fats and oils, and consciously raised (preferably organic) animal proteins like meats and raw dairy products in moderate amounts when needed for building strength and warmth.
Individual Body Types
One of the basic guidelines of Macrobiotics (the Asian tradition of eating and living in harmony with nature): eat to balance your individual constitution. A person may need building foods like high quality animal proteins or spirulina/chlorrella algae if they do hard physical work, are pregnant or nursing, feel weak or cold, have a wasting or deficiency type illnesses, are underweight, or if they are a protein-type with meat-eating ancestry, and/or slower metabolism (usually people with type O blood). Dr. Mercola has an excellent, free, nutritional typing test, which can help you discover your individual constitution and needs, not only with particular foods, but with lifestyle too!
Until recently, I thought I was a carbohydrate nutritional body type, and now, if my health improves from cutting out even the low glycemic cereal grains like brown rice and millet, I will consider myself a protein type or possibly a mixed type.
Traditional Preparation Of Grains vs. Modern Use Of Grains In Processed Foods
When ANY types of grains are soaked (aka: sprouted) and simmered, OR freshly ground and cultured, they provide an easily digestible, nutrient accessible, long-lasting carbohydrate source. The modern processed food industry skips these important steps (soaking or culturing), which our ancestors nearly always took in preparing grains. These steps are important because they help break down the complex carbohydrates in the grains, making them much easier to digest. When our bodies don’t have to work so hard on digestion, our internal energy is free to heal and balance other areas. Also, soaking or culturing neutralizes the phytic acid in the bran of the grain, which makes it’s vitamins and minerals much more bio-available. AND, soaking (and thusly initiating the sprouting process) in grains, creates many more amino acids in the grain, which the body can use as the building blocks of proteins. Wow again!
Cereal Grains vs. Grain-Like Seeds
Okay. Cereal grains are the edible, carbohydrate-packed seeds of certain grasses including wheat, kamut, rice, rye, spelt, corn, millet, barley and oats. All of these grains are high glycemic except brown rice which is considered medium glycemic. What!?! Millet is high glycemic?!? I knew brown rice is medium-glycemic, but I thought millet is low-glycemic. Sheesh! My whole world is beginning to crumble here!!!
When one of my friends saw my rosacea recently, she said it looked like a food allergy symptom. Since I eat so many different grains, she said that it could be an allergy to the cereal grains. Okay, okay. No more cereal grains for me for a while!
Thank God I’ve learned to cook main dishes and sugar-free desserts with quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth. I’ve loved the taste and the power-packed punch of these little “grains” for decades now. These three gains are actually small, edible, protein-rich seeds. They’re not grass seeds, and therefore, they’re not cereal grains. They provide much more protein than carbohydrate, and therefore, they don’t spike the blood sugar. Also, amaranth is highest of all the grains in both calcium and iron, and in countries where it’s a staple grain, there is no malnutrition. Hey! That’s nice!
The Body’s Changing Needs
Everybody’s body and needs are different, AND our needs can change over time. I’ll be experimenting with eating only quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth as my source of grain for several months to see how my skin improves. If healing happens, I may try re-incorporating small amounts of one type of cereal grain at a time, to see how my body tolerates each one. I’ll probably try millet first, see how that goes for a few weeks, and then I’ll try brown rice. My intuition tells me that I now needed to stay away from all glutenous grains, but I’m willing to cut out all cereal grains too, if that’s what my body needs. I encourage you to experiment with various whole foods for periods of time, to see which ones nourish your individual constitution, and give you the most energy and vitality.
Quieting Our Mental Chatter
Another key piece of the puzzle that I feel is of great importance, is consciously tuning into one’s changing needs on a regular basis. I’ve experienced the benefits of this practice myself, and I’ve seen it work for many other people. There are several ways to tune in, such as being quiet in nature, using mindfulness practices, or beginning to learn to meditate. Each of these will help steer you in the direction that’s best for you, for that period time in your life.
The body’s needs can change decade to decade, year to year, week to week, day to day, or moment to moment. I’ve found that quieting mental chatter is an invaluable tool, not only to discover which foods are best for you in the moment, but to establish a foundational way of being which leads to moving through life’s challenges with grace, non-judgement, fearlessness, and joy.
Much of the content for this article is brought to you by Dr. Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author. For his helpful articles, please visit Mercola.com today and receive your FREE Take Control of Your Health E-book!
by Courtney Coleman |
Culturing (aka: fermenting) vegetables has long been a tradition meant to extend the shelf-life of fresh summertime produce throughout the winter months. In our modern world, we don’t experience this particular dilemma much. But so much has been recently discovered about the health benefits of eating live-cultured (probiotic-rich) foods which are brimming with beneficial bacteria (about 100 times more than probiotic supplements!), that many people are now beginning to culture their own veggies at home.
Making your own cultured veggies like sauerkraut, kimchee, or beet kvaas, is a great, inexpensive way to re-establish a healthy population of beneficial bacteria. I say ‘re-establish’, because in our toxic, modern world, our natural bodily populations of beneficial bacteria get significantly knocked down by: the use of antibiotics (prescribed AND residual amounts in commercially produced animal products), corticosteroids, birth control pills, chlorine in tap water, heavily cooked meat, preservatives in processed foods, refined sugars, hydrogenated fats and oils, toxins in our food and environment, and stress.
The wonderful little vitality-givers should actually cover our skin, swim in our blood, and colonize our intestines and vaginal tracts. Some scientists say that we are ideally 90% bacteria, and only 10% human! Wow! That’s a really weird thought! But beneficial bacteria help our bodies to thrive on multiple levels. Aside from helping our bodies to better digest and assimilate food nutrients, they act as the foundation of our immune systems, they help lower blood pressure, they keep bad bacteria and yeasts in check, they contribute significantly to healthy skin, AND they work to help normalize our metabolism and thusly our weight. Oh! They also produce both vitamin B12 and K2 in our intestines. Wow, right?
As if all these various benefits of probiotics aren’t enough, here are more findings via Dr. Joseph Mercola:
“Many fail to realize that your gut is literally your second brain, and can significantly influence your mind, mood, and behavior….mounting evidence indicates that ignoring your gut may have far-reaching psychological consequences, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that nourishing your gut flora through proper diet, from cradle to grave, is extremely important for proper brain function, and that includes psychological well-being and mood control.
“This mysterious connection becomes easier to grasp when you understand that your brain and your gut are actually biologically identical, as they’re created out of the same type of tissue. These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. The featured research, published in the August 29 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirms that the vagus nerve is indeed the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain.”
There are even more amazing new findings on how probiotics influence our continued genetic expression. Dr. Joseph Mercola has explained this in another recent article. He says, “One of the most cutting-edge fields of medicine is epigenetics, which has shown that your lifestyle plays a significant role in how your genes are expressed. Probiotics influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner. The widely accepted dogma that your genes control your health destiny is now being completely uprooted, as your genetic code is not set in stone. Rather it is constantly changing based on factors like your diet and stress levels. To put it simply, the more dietary and lifestyle habits you engage in that positively influence your genetic expression, the more protection you’ll naturally receive against a host of chronic illnesses. For instance, eating broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, garlic and onions helps to activate tumor suppressor genes that fight cancer. Likewise, researchers revealed that eating probiotic-rich foods influenced the activity of hundreds of human genes in a positive manner.”
We can start to take advantage of epigenetics by incorporating probiotic-rich foods into our diets such as raw sauerkraut, kimchee, beet kvaas, miso, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, etc. Cultured foods should always be raw or unpasteurized, refrigerated, and never cooked or heated to boiling, so that the good bacteria are kept alive. I prefer making my own cultured veggies rather than buying a probiotic supplement, not just because it’s way less expensive, but because, as I said before, cultured veggies contain about 100 times the amount of probiotic bacteria than probiotic supplements. Also, the sour flavor satisfies the third taste according to both Ayurveda and Macrobiotics. So, if a meal contains all 5 tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and pungent), we’ll feel more satisfied and have less of a tendency to overeat.
Making your own sauerkraut can be tricky, but it’s very satisfying. The first time I made a batch of sauerkraut that actually turned out, I felt triumphant. The weeks of waiting had finally proven worthwhile. And, I realized that I was connecting to my ancestors by going through the motions they had gone through for so many hundreds of years.
Showing people what I’ve learned over the past 15 years about the art of culturing vegetables is very gratifying. I know I’m sharing a hugely health-promoting practice which they and their friends and family will definitely benefit from.
Much content for this article came from Dr. Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author. For more helpful articles, please visit Mercola.com today and receive your FREE Take Control of Your Health E-book!
by Courtney Coleman |
I believe that the three, most important, first steps toward establishing great health are: 1) getting enough water daily, 2) getting enough dark leafy greens daily, and 3) quitting refined sugars then eating low glycemic. Last month, I shared strategies on how to get enough re-mineralized water daily. So, this month, I’ll share the healthiest ways to prepare all kinds of greens (including the Asian Greens!); why some leafy greens are best for the body when eaten raw, and why some are healthiest when at least lightly cooked. Yay!
Whether it be a big pile of steamed dino kale drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil, or a huge green salad with chopped dandelion greens, I feel so alive, so alert, and so much energy just from eating my greens daily! In fact, eating way more greens was the very first step I took about 15 years ago, when I had no energy and several health issues. When I simply started eating a big spinach salad every day, my energy level shot up by about 50%! Wow! “Greens, Glorious Greens! Life-Giving Sustenance!”
All greens have tons of fiber, minerals, and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll mirrors human blood almost exactly in it’s molecular structure, so it helps cleanse and re-build the blood. Live green salads are alkalizing to the body’s pH, and they’re full of fiber and living enzymes, both of which aid digestion. Greens rejuvenate us, period.
It’s important to maintain the body’s naturally alkaline pH balance to maintain good health, energy, stamina, and general vitality. I remember one of my teachers saying, “…disease cannot take root in an alkaline environment.” He recommend eating an 80% alkaline-forming diet, and limiting acid-forming foods to less than 20% of the diet. Acid-forming foods include: all forms of sugar, alcohol, commercially produced meats, refined salts, white flour products, pasteurized dairy, and packaged/processed/restaurant foods in general. When we eat mostly whole, alkalizing foods like seasonal vegetables, beans, millet, quinoa, nuts, avocado, pasture butter, organic eggs, and grass fed meats, there’s less room in our stomachs for the refined, acid-forming foods, which makes the gentle transition to a whole foods diet way easier than most people think!
Dark leafy greens are a big part of what’s missing in the Standard American Diet. The cruciferous (broccoli family) dark leafy greens like kales of all kinds, collard greens, Brussels sprout greens, broccoli greens, cauliflower greens, and cabbages are 1) very alkalizing to the blood, 2) contain potent anti-oxidants, and 3) are brimming with bio-available, food-state vitamins and minerals. The darker the color of the greens, the more minerals they have! I believe that these cruciferous greens are absolutely the most nutritious of all the greens because of their density of minerals, and their strong, anti-cancer properties. I’ve experienced that the crucifers are easiest to digest when eaten at least lightly steamed (or rubbed with coarse sea salt and olive oil). These methods help to break down the copious amounts of sulfur they contain, as sulfur is very difficult for the body to digest.
Raw, green lettuces are also very alkalizing to the body, contain minerals, and have a cooling effect on the body. So, raw greens are best eaten more often in the spring and summer (the time of year when lettuces naturally grow), or when you’re feeling too warm. These types of greens don’t contain too much sulfur, so they’re easy to digest when eaten raw: all lettuces, baby spinach, turnip and radish greens, dandelion greens, baby bok choy, baby tatsoi, baby mustard greens, and watercress.
“What about beet greens and chard?”, you ask. There’s a substance called oxalic acid that’s found in large amounts in mature spinach, beet greens, rhubarb, parsley, and Swiss chard. There’s a sensation associated with eating oxalic acid heavy veggies; it’s a feeling like the enamel is coming off of your teeth (similar to when you bite into a lemon). When these types of veggies are COOKED, oxalic acid binds with minerals in the intestine, and inhibits their absorption. If these types of veggies were cooked and eaten daily, they’d eventually contribute to mineral depletion. The great, recent news on this subject, is that when eaten raw, the living enzymes in the plant’s tissues help break down the oxalic acid, which leaves the minerals free to go to where they’re needed in the body. So, eat mature spinach, beet greens, rhubarb, parsley, and Swiss chard RAW. Other than eating these types of greens raw, there are two more ways oxalic acid can be neutralized: 1) by cooking these vegetables with kombu sea vegetable for at least 20 minutes, and 2) by fermenting (culturing) these vegetables in beet kvaas, sauerkraut, or kimchee.
A wonderful new addition to my health-arsenal of greens, are the Asian greens such as Kang kong (water spinach), bittermelon leaf, amaranth greens, basil, long bean, daikon radish, singua, okra, shanghai bokchoy, lemon grass, dill, and yam leaf.
Asian greens are often found at our local farmer’s markets. I started including Asian greens in my salads and stir frys. The yam leaf, amaranth greens, and water spinach are super mild, and will disappear into salads without a clue from picky eaters. The okra greens are mild too, and they have a slightly slippery texture (mucilaginous), just like their fruit. Turnip, radish, and mustard greens are slightly spicy, and the more mature (bigger they are), the spicier they get, so watch out!
For a full color guide to all the Asian greens including:
Latin name, also known as names, flavor, texture, how they’re best cooked, when they’re available, and where to find them, check out:
Here’s a brief summary of which types can be eaten raw, and which types should be cooked:
Asian Greens which can be eaten raw OR cooked
yam leaf, radish greens, turnip greens, amaranth greens, fava greens,
malabar spinach, mizuna, snow pea shoots, water spinach, napa cabbage, BABY bok choy, BABY tatsoi, BABY yu choy, & BABY mustard greens
Asian Greens which need to be cooked
chrysanthemum greens, chinese celery, chinese broccoli, AA choy, kokabu greens, bitter melon vine (bitter melon vine is usually made into a medicinal tea for diabetics who are NOT on blood sugar lowering drugs)