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Eating for a Rainbow of Health Benefits

Beige and black may be all the rage in many wardrobes but when it relates to a healthy diet, color is the way to go. Why? One word: phytochemicals. The more colorful your plate the more phytonutrients in your food and the more phytonutrinets on your plate the more health benefits you will be eating. I always say that the best form of health insurance is prevention. As I tell all of my patients, a beige diet may be cheap, taste good to you and fill you up, but it also may cost you more later as they tend to be high in unhealthy fats, highly processed and usually nutrient depleted foods. This puts your health at risk. So choose to eat wisely now and there is no better time then the beginning of summer with the abundance of produce and healthy fresh choices.
Phytochemicals act as antioxidants, can protect your cells from injury, aging and cancer. They can help regenerate essential nutrients and they can also help in the detoxification of certain chemicals that are in our environment and help to inhibit and deactivate cancer-causing substances. WOW! All that in a little color on your plate. And the beauty is that these potent substances occur naturally in plants and because its summer, they are everywhere! Summer time means sunshine, greenery, longer days and warmer evenings, more time to savor all the beauty of the outdoors. Plants are in abundance, beauty abounds, and nature gloriously shares all of its incredible fresh healthy bounty with us. In my healthy world, summer is all about the amazing abundance of healthy, fresh, whole foods and there’s no better time to eat well, be well and feel fabulous.

So what exactly is behind the color of your food?

phytochemical

Green:

The natural plant pigment chlorophyll colors green fruits and vegetables. Green foods are rich in isothiocyanates, which induce enzymes in the liver that assist the body in removing potentially carcinogenic compounds. For example, cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cabbage contain the phytochemicals indoles and isothiocyanates, which may have anticancer properties.

Green vegetables are also an excellent sources of vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, as well as carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids. Folic acid is needed to prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy, and vitamin K is essential in blood clot formation. Diets high in potassium are associated with lowering blood pressure, and there is an inverse relationship between cruciferous vegetables and cancer, especially colon and bladder cancers. In addition, sulforaphane, a phytochemical present in cruciferous vegetables, was found to detoxify cancer-causing chemicals before they do damage to the body.

Yellow/Green:

A variation of the green color category, these foods exhibit a richness in lutein. Lutein is particularly beneficial for eye health. There are lutein receptors in the macula of the eye, and lutein helps protect against age-related macular degeneration.

Another reason to grab some yellow/green kiwifruit at the grocery store is its high amount of vitamin C, a super powerful natural antioxidant that is essential for collagen formation in the skin and improving the immune system. Sources of these potent antioxidants include; Avocado, kiwifruit, spinach and other leafy greens, pistachios

Relish Ruby Reds:

Lycopene is the predominant pigment in reddish fruits and veggies and this carotenoid, lycopene, is a powerful antioxidant that has been associated with a reduced risk of some cancers, especially prostate cancer, and protection against heart attacks. Look for tomato-based products for the most concentrated source of this phytochemical. Tomatoes also help to support the health of prostate and breast tissue.

And although some nutrients, such as vitamin C, are diminished with the introduction of heat, the benefits of eating produce are not dependent on eating raw foods. In fact, cooking enhances the activity of some phytochemicals, especially lycopene. Cooked tomato sauces are associated with greater health benefits compared with the uncooked version because the heating process allows all carotenoids, especially the lycopene, to be more easily absorbed by the body.

In addition to vitamin C and folate, red fruits and vegetables are also sources of flavonoids, which reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties. Cranberries, another red fruit whose color is due to anthocyanins, not lycopene, are also a good source of tannins, which prevent bacteria from attaching to cells.

Yellow/Orange:

Orange foods are rich in beta-carotene, which are particularly wonderful antioxidants. They also contain beta-cryptoxanthin and vitamin C. Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta-carotene, and alpha-carotene are all orange-friendly carotenoids and can be converted in the body to vitamin A, a nutrient integral for optimal vision, healthy immune function, as well as skin and bone health.

Since eyesight is dependent on the presence of vitamin A, it is considered the optimal vision vitamin. Other phytochemicals typically found in yellow/orange fruits and vegetables help to protect the eyes from cataracts and have anti-inflammatory properties. The beta-carotenes in some orange fruits and vegetables may also play a part in cancer prevention; lung, esophagus, and stomach. They may also reduce the risk of heart disease and improve immune function.

Examples: Carrots, mangos, cantaloupe, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apricots

The beauty of these colorful fruits and vegetables is far more than skin deep. These colors are nature’s way of advertising the phytonutrients, or special, healthy chemicals that they contain. The more color, the better!

Indulge, enjoy and stay healthy!

 

I Love MACA

 

Why do I love Maca? Maca root is a highly nutritious root vegetable, but also a wonderful medicinal adaptogen, also known as “Peruvian ginseng”. In today’s day and age, with all of the stressers in our daily lives, adaptogenic herbs and foods are our friends, the more we eat the better we shall feel and thrive. I believe that Maca and other adaptogens should be part of our daily diet.

Maca grows in the high mountainous areas of South America, and has been cultivated as a vegetable crop for thousands of years.

Maca’s has some wonderful positive effects of the body and the mind; especially the endocrine and reproductive system. It is known for its hormone balancing and regulating effects and seems very good for the reproductive health of both men and women. Maca root is said to increase fertility, improve sexual function, improve hormone balance, and help increase energy and stamina. It may also help improve mental health, especially mood, focus and learning. WOW!

In Peru, maca is cooked and eaten like a vegetable. Here, it is more available as a dried powdered root and is considered quite the superfood.

Raw maca powder does not mix well with liquids so I like to use it in baking, as a replacemnt for ordinary flour. You can still mix the raw powder into a smoothie or a no-baked recipe, but it needs to be blended quite well. I recommend about 1 tablespoon once or twice a day, and because it might help boost your energy, I usually take it in the morning or early afternoon.

Maca has a pleasant flavor, and I think it tastes creamy and delicious. Some describe it as similar to butterscotch, and it comes in a variety of colors, most commonly yellow, black, and red. All colors of maca have similar benefits, although specific maca types/colors are thought to be more beneficial for certain medical conditions.

Rich and yummy Maca Blueberry Cocoa Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen blueberries

1-2 Tsp Maca

2 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder

2 cups coconut milk, full fat in a can

1 Tbsp raw organic honey

OR 1/4 tsp stevia powder extract

bluebery smoothis

Directions:

Put everything in a blender until well combined.

Drink it all yourself or share it with a lucky friend!

Another awesome Maca recipe is Maca Cocoa Coconut Bliss Balls

bliss balls

Ingredients

10 Medjool Dates (about 10-12)
1/3 cup finely chopped Macadamia Nuts
1/3 cup Goji Berries
2 tablespoons Chia Seeds
2 tablesspoons Cacao Nibs
1 tablespoon Maca Powder
1 Teaspoon Raw Honey (VEGAN VERSION – 3-4 drops stevia)
1 Teaspoon Cacao Powder
Dash of Vanilla Extract
Finely shredded Coconut (for rolling them in)

Instructions

Combine dates, chia seeds, cocao powder, vanilla extract and honey in a food processor and whiz up until you get a fairly smooth consistency.

Stir in the goji berries, macadamia nuts and cacao nibs. Feel free to add or take out any of the nuts and seeds, play with the ingredients anf find a blend that you love.

With clean washed hands, start forming into little balls or fun shapes and then roll them  in the shredded coconut.

Then simply enjoy !

 

 

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A Dab of Apple Cider Vinegar a Day May Keep the Doctor Away

I remember when I first started working as a holistic doctor, Carol, a sweet patient of mine gifted me a handbook called Health and Healing with Apple Cider Vinegar. She had a severe case of arthritis and told me that just by adding a little bit of apple cider vinegar into her water every day, helped to heal her from years of pain.

apple cider vinegarCurious about this natural amazing remedy, I began to do more research and naturally I also started to drink some of this golden nectar daily to see what effects it would have on me.

First let me start by saying that a little apple cider vinegar goes a long way. There is definitely a point where too much of this good thing is truly too much and quite overwhelming for the palate. So ease into this by starting with maybe 1/4 tsp in a glass of water daily, with the goal of reaching one tsp in a glass of water 3-4 times a day. Aside from the acidic taste however, which is actually the basis of most of its medicinal qualities, eventually you can become quite accustomed to this powerful natural remedy’s taste, and it is worth it. Apple cider vinegar is a potent healing remedy, a gem that I have grown to love and have discovered is amazing for so many different things.

As a folk remedy, apple cider vinegar has been credited with curing everything from  the flu, arthritis, aches, pains, dandruff, diabetes event warts. Many of its supposed benefits are unproven, but some experts, aka my patients, think that adding a little of this sour liquid to your life has many health benefits and no side effects, so why not give it a try?

In fact, I believe in this remedy so much that I actually added apple cider vinegar to the recipe for Flackers (www.drinthekitchen.com). Not only does it actually add a great flavor to the cracker but the medicinal benefits are overwhelming.

In case you were wondering, the following are just a few of the reasons to drink a sip of apple cider vinegar daily.

Apple cider vinegar may aid in weight loss

Apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight. Here’s why: The acetic acid suppresses your appetite, increases your metabolism, and reduces water retention. Scientists also theorize that apple cider vinegar interferes with the body’s digestion of starch, which means fewer calories enter the bloodstream

Apple Cider Vinegar and Blood Sugar

While apple cider vinegar is touted for its incredible weight loss abilities, I would have to say it probably won’t make you skinny, but taking it daily does appear to help with diabetes and blood sugar regulation. Its effects on blood sugar are similar to certain medications and apple cider vinegar’s antiglycemic effect is very well documented in the medical literature.

Vinegar blocks some of the digestion of starch preventing at least some of that starch from being digested and raising blood sugar. I was having dinner with a friend who wisely shared that information with me as we were indulging in sushi. The white rice which is typically high in the glycemic index, he explained, is lowered by the fact that the Japanese bathe it it vinegar first.

Apple cider vinegar for energy

Exercise and sometimes extreme stress cause lactic acid to build up in the body, causing fatigue. Interestingly, the amino acids contained in apple cider vinegar act as an antidote. What’s more, apple cider vinegar contains potassium and enzymes that may relieve that tired feeling. Next time you’re beat, add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to a glass of chilled vegetable drink or to a glass of water.

Apple cider vinegar soothes a sore throat

As soon as you feel the prickle of a employ germ-busting apple cider vinegar to help head off the infection at the pass. Turns out, most germs can’t survive in the acidic environment vinegar creates. Just mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup warm water and gargle every hour or so.

Apple cider vinegar prevents indigestion

Sip before eating, especially if you know you’re going to indulge in foods that are rich and decadent. Try this folk remedy: add 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and drink it 30 minutes before you dine.Some folk remedy experts contend that apple cider vinegar contains pectin, which can help soothe intestinal spasms. Try mixing one or two tablespoons into water, or clear juice like apple juice

Apple cider vinegar to clear a stuffy nose

Next time you’re stuffed up from a congestion, consider a tsp of this golden liquid for relief. Apple cider vinegar contains potassium, which thins mucus; and the acetic acid in it prevents bacterial growth which could contribute to nasal congestion. Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink to help sinus drainage.

Apple cider vinegar to ward off dandruff

The acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow. Mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup water in a spray bottle, and spritz on your scalp. Wrap your head in a towel and let sit for 15 minutes to an hour, then wash your hair as usual. Do this twice a week for best results.

Apple cider vinegar for acne

Apple cider vinegar makes a great natural toner that can act as  a natural astringent and leave skin looking healthier. Its antibacterial properties help keep acne under control, and the malic and lactic acids found in apple cider vinegar soften and exfoliate skin, reduce red spots, and balance the pH of your skin.
So go ahead and try some today. I suggest a tsp on an empty stomach first thing in the morning and then 20 minutes before each meal. Let me know what you think?
To your Health!

 

 
 
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