Do you know what feeds your cells?
What are “super-foods”? (and why do they matter)
Food is quite literally fuel for your cells. The nutrients in food are powerful and can positively or negatively impact your cell’s health and ability to function depending on what foods you consume. There is a lot of talk about “super-foods” these days, but what defines a super-food? The answer is subjective, but they generally are foods rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, fatty acids, or fiber.
According to Max Lugavere, author of Genius Foods, the ten superfoods for brain health are extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), avocado, blueberries, grass-fed beef, dark leafy greens, broccoli, wild salmon, and almonds. Eating these “super-foods” can definitely be beneficial for your health. Still, it is essential to realize that there are many other foods with nutrients and unique properties that you should incorporate into your diet.
Let’s start off with some of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods.
- Turmeric – contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory (curcumin can also be taken alone in supplement form)
- Garlic and Onions – contains diallyl disulfide an anti-inflammatory compound
- Ginger – anti-inflammatory effects due to Arachidonic acid
- Blueberries – high in antioxidants and polyphenols
- Avocado – high in antioxidants and monounsaturated fat
- EVOO – contains polyphenols which reduce oxidative stress
- Walnuts – good Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio
- Hemp Seeds – good Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio
- Wild Salmon – good Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio
- Bone Broth – improves gut health
It is important to note that inflammation isn’t all bad. In fact, a certain level of inflammation is vital to your health; however, too much of it is a bad thing. The key to a healthy level of inflammation is your Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, while Omega-6s are inflammatory. The ideal Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is around 4:1. In contrast, the typical Western Diet is around 16:1. Try and incorporate at least one of these foods in your meals; I would not be surprised if you started to feel better!
It is more important than ever to support your immune system. Some of my top immune-boosting foods are:
- Sweet Potato – high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Beta-Carotene
- Green Tea – high in antioxidants (fight free radicals)
- Elderberry – high in Vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber
- Goji Berries – high in antioxidants and phytonutrients
- Parsley – high in Vitamin C
- Oregano – antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-parasite compounds
- Spirulina – high in antioxidants
- Kale – high in Vitamin C and Carotenoids
- Carrots – high in Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene
- Citrus foods (think orange, lemon, and grapefruit) – high in Vitamin C
- Green and Red Bell Peppers – high in Vitamin C
- Bone Broth – improves gut health
- Manuka Honey – contains anti-viral properties
Notice that a lot of these foods are colorful and for a good reason. The coloring and pigment in foods are due to their unique nutrient profiles. Foods that are rich in color or are bright tend to be packed with Vitamins and antioxidants.
Foods that help with Detoxification
A few other superfoods I have not discussed yet are all part of the Cruciferous vegetable family. Some of the Cruciferous vegetables include Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Kale, Arugula, and Bok Choy. These foods are unique because they contain Glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds that help your body with detoxification and have anti-cancer effects. It is so important to incorporate these foods regularly into your diet to help you stay healthy!
You should be able to recognize what nutrients you are putting into your body so that you can function optimally. Every food is unique in its own way, which is what makes nutrition so fun! “Super-foods” or not, a good rule of thumb is to eat the rainbow, and your body will thank you for it.