Superfoods are a great way to boost energy levels, lose weight and improve overall health as they are the most nutrient dense foods that you can eat. Superfoods are a delicious and easy way to get high amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into your diet. And all of this good stuff will help you to look and feel your best this summer!
I first became interested in nutrition and the healing power of food as a result of struggling with my own health issues. I suffered from burning, dry eyes, fatigue and muscular pains which had a pretty devastating effect on my life. I was unable to read or watch TV for more than 15 minutes and used to wake up feeling exhausted.
After changing my diet, removing sugar and embarking on a detoxification programme I no longer experience any of these symptoms. In fact, I feel great and my energy levels are the best they have been in years! My life’s purpose is now to assist others on their own journey to good health and vitality, so I decided to train as a nutritionist with the College of Naturopathic Medicine, where I can continue to learn the newest nutritional advancements, with the aim of opening my own practice once I’m qualified. I have just completed the second year and am finding it absolutely fascinating. The course has given me such an appreciation of how amazing our bodies are and why we need to take care of them.
As Hippocrates said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine your food”.
My top 4 superfoods:
Blueberries top my list because not only are they tasty and great to sweeten up your breakfast smoothie, they contain high levels of immune boosting vitamin C and antioxidants found in the blue colour of the skin which are anti-inflammatory and reduce normal cellular damage associated with skin aging. That’s great news for us women as the anti-aging properties of blueberries can counteract the effects of sun damage and prevent premature wrinkles!
Blueberries have also been shown to have cancer fighting properties. The ethyl acetate extract within blueberries inhibits the key enzyme involved in tumour progression.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae found in mineral rich alkaline lakes across the world. Spirulina is called a superfood because its nutrient content is more potent than any other food on the planet, containing a high concentration of B vitamins, Iron, calcium, potassium, selenium and zinc.
Spirulina is considered a ‘complete protein’ which means that it contains all 8 essential amino acids in an easier to digest form than meat or soy protein. Therefore, it is a great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.
Research suggests that spirulina might inhibit mast cell mediated reactions and therefore decrease the incidence of food related allergies and relieve hay fever.
Our body has a built in detoxification system but sometimes this can become overwhelmed and unable to process the amount of toxins that we exposed to, this can lead to a build up of toxins in our cells contributing to chronic health problems. Spirulina is a great tool for detoxifying and cleansing the body as it is able to bind to toxins and pull them out.
Add spirulina to smoothies, soups or sprinkle on salads
3) Chia seeds
Chia seeds are found in South America and have been used as a staple food by the Aztecs and Mayans. Chia is the ancient Mayan word for strength and the seeds are said to have been eaten by Indian warriors for sustained energy. So they can provide a good energy boost to start your day! They are easily added to smoothies, porridge or make a delicious dessert when soaked in coconut milk and mixed with raw cocoa and stevia, yum!
One tablespoon of chia seeds contains more calcium than a glass of milk, more omega 3 than salmon and more antioxidants than blueberries. Chia seeds are also high in fibre and protein which is great for digestion, lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar.
Your skin will thank you if you include chia seeds in your diet as the Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids support the natural lubrication of the skin helping to prevent dryness. Diets rich in Omega 3 and antioxidants help to reduce inflammation and slow the process of aging by mopping up free radicals and toxins within the body.
4) Cruciferous Vegetables
Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and bok choy are part of the cruciferous vegetable family. These common household staples have more health enhancing properties than I have room to mention. They are rich in vitamin C, E and K, folate, fibre, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and selenium which have many important biochemical functions in the body.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain a substance called sulforaphane which enhances liver detoxification, antioxidant levels and speeds up the removal of toxins from the body which contribute to weight gain, lack of energy and many chronic health problem.
The bitter flavour of cruciferous vegetables can improve digestion by stimulating the release of the stomach acid needed to breakdown protein and by enhancing the secretion of bile needed for fat digestion and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K across the gut into the blood stream.
Chia seeds and spirulina can be found at any local health food store.
Sara Thackeray, Health and Psychology BA; student of nutritional therapy at the College of Naturopathic Medicine
To enquire about nutritional articles for your website contact Sara: Elizabethwin8@hotmail.com or visit Natural Born Foodie Sara will also be available for new paying clients for private nutrition consultations from 2016.