You are what you eat

Christina Carreau BA, ND

We have all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ but how many of us actually take the time to evaluate our food intake for optimal nutrition.  One thing that I hear too often when it comes to eating healthy is, “I am too busy or I don’t have time.” While I do appreciate how busy life can be, I also recognize that what you put into your body directly impacts your current state of health in terms of energy, mood, sleep, and digestion but more importantly, it is a predictor of your future health.

With the increasing prevalence of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer, we need to play a more active role in preventing these diseases to whatever extent we can. This is where the whole ‘nature versus nurture’ debate comes into the equation. Yes, we all have genetic predispositions and susceptibilities to certain illnesses but we are also able to significantly reduce our risks by paying attention to our eating patterns and being more respectful of our bodies. I encourage you to make this month about ‘becoming more aware of eating patterns and working towards ‘a healthier you’. Buy a vegetable that you have never tried, cut out dairy or gluten for a week, make a new recipe, try and eat an extra piece of fruit….healthy options are endless, pick a few that you want to implement this month. Small changes today can amount to big changes over time.

Ok enough preaching. Below is a list of five of my favourite super foods. I encourage you to experiment with some of these as their healing properties are incredible.

Tumeric – this yellow and pungent spice is a natural anti-inflammatory and has been shown to reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancer, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, reduce pain associated with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, is a natural liver detoxifier, and speeds wound healing. Try having 1-2 tsp in food or water daily.

Sprouts – these rank as the freshest and most nutritious vegetables, containing numerous enzymes that make them easy to digest. They are abundant in antioxidants,  alkalinizing to the body and are full of vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll and amino acids.  There are lots of different kinds of sprouts and they each have unique healing properties.  I recommend trying as many as you can. They are delicious on sandwiches, in salads, or on top of any rice or stir-fry dish.

Kelp –  is a brown-colored seaweed that grows along the ocean shores that can be eaten raw, but is usually dried and ground into a powder. It is an amazing source of iodine which is required for healthy thyroid function. Our thyroid regulates metabolism and helps with weight loss. Kelp is also a good source of iron, is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Try adding this to soups, salads, dressings and stir-fries. You can buy this in most health foods stores.

Chlorella – is a green algae and is known as ‘one of the world’s most nutritious foods’. It is rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, helps prevent cancer, stimulates the immune system and promotes healthy digestion. It is also alkalinizing to the body, protects the body against toxic metals, fights bad breath, increases energy….the list goes on. This is one that I highly recommend! You can buy it in powder, capsule or liquid form at most health food stores – the dose is variable based on the concentration of chlorella in the product that you purchase.

Cocoa – this is one that we are all familiar with. Cocoa is a powerful antioxidant, is rich in magnesium and a great source of fiber. Research shows that cocoa is beneficial for reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol and is great for overall heart health. So the good news is…chocolate is actually good for you. The bad news is that it is dark chocolate that possesses all the health benefits, so I apologize to all the milk chocolate lovers out there…..these health benefits don’t apply. I personally like cocoa nibs, they can be added to baking, smoothies, granola, oatmeal or can be eaten as a snack on their own. The dose is variable but usually a few teaspoons is enough to reap the health benefits of chocolate. YUM!

My philosophy is that health is not something that we ‘attain’ but rather something that we always ‘work towards’. Enjoy these superfoods and take the time to nourish your body this month….after all ‘you are what you eat’.