Food is amazing. It can heal the body. Literally. It can heal the body! That’s why we eat it. I mean obviously we need energy to go about our daily lives, so that’s a big reason to eat food, but for many many years people have used food and nutrition to heal. Some time in the last century our way of life and view of nutrition has shifted so dramatically that we have completely lost focus of how to use nutrition to heal.
In lots of countries around the world, and parts of our country as well, people are malnourished and underfed. They struggle to eat enough calories to sustain life and many times do not succeed. For the most part, living in the U.S. means we don’t worry about obtaining enough calories to live. In fact, most people are trying to limit their calorie intake.
According to an article on Livestrong, approximately 48 million people diet each year. We’ve done this crazy thing where instead of worrying about getting enough food, we’re actually extremely worried about eating less of it.
The bottom line is this: America is overfed. America is undernourished.
That may sound counterintuitive, but the reality is we eat SO MUCH CRAP. It’s insane the amount of “food” we consume that does absolutely nothing positive in our body other than provide “usable energy” <–even that is questionable sometimes.
Take a look at your food labels, specifically the ingredient list, and see if there are things you don’t recognize. This is terrifying. I just recently did this in my own kitchen and I was blown away by the amount of scary sounding ingredients in “health food”. For example almond milk often has “carrageenan” in it, which is an preservative indigestible ingredient linked to intestinal damage. You may also see things like “potassium bromate” and “sulfur dioxide” and “sodium nitrite”. My guess is if someone handed you a teeny tiny bit of liquid and said “Here, drink this potassium bromate” you’d probably say “Are you kidding?! Screw you! YOU drink it!” no matter how tiny the amount. But yet we consume these things in our diet everyday!
Now that was a little bit of a tangent, but the important thing that I would like to talk about is the fact that if we’re all this crap and processed junk and chemicals and additives, then most likely we’re not eating enough of the amazing stuff that can heal your body!!
We all know that fruits and vegetables have antioxidants and vitamins in them, but it is SO much more than that. Phytonutrients and phytochemicals exist in fruits and vegetables by the thousands. These tiny micro nutrients heal the body in miraculous ways. So even if you take a vitamin or eat a bar with added vitamins and minerals, you are still missing out on these amazing little things that only exist in fruits and veggies! Don’t get me wrong..continue to take those amazing little vitamins, just add in the real stuff, too.
The most common of these nutrients that people are aware of are lycopene (in tomatoes-proven to decrease risk for prostate cancer) and beta carotene (in carrots and sweet potatoes-proven to boost skin and bone health). BUT, there are so many more!
From an article found on Fruits & Veggies: More Matters, here are a few important ones to be aware of:
Resveratrol– found in grapes and red wine (!!). Known to decrease inflammation and help protect your heart by being a natural vasodilator (lower blood pressure)
Isoflavones- found in soybeans. Known to lower cholesterol, decrease inflammation, help with menopausal symptoms, and decrease risk for breast cancer.
From the Produce for Better Health Foundation:
Isothiocyanates- found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and kale. Known to reduce risk for many types of cancers by “modulating carcinogen metabolism”.
Myrecetin- found in berries, grapes, parsley, and spinach. Known to increase the transport of sugar in the blood, increase the ability of insulin to clear triglycerides (fat) from the blood, and have anti-inflammatory/anti-cancer properties.
Quercetin- found in onions, apples, broccoli, cranberries, and grapes. Known to lower risk for asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer.
So even if you don’t remember the name of one single phytonutrient, that’s ok!
The important thing is that you know they are there.
If this inspires you to eat just ONE more serving of fruits or veggies today, then my work here is done!