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Add Super Health Powers to Your Life with Superfoods

Roasted beets with chickpeas and red onion
Roasted beets with chickpeas and red onion

Achieving greater energy, vitality, physical strength, mental clarity and the avoidance of chronic disease starts with incorporating ‘Superfoods’ into the daily diet. So what are ‘Superfoods’ and how are they important allies in helping us achieve greater health and wellness?

What are Superfoods?

Superfoods are quality foods that are denser in nutrition and have a greater bio-availability of that nutrition to our bodies. Most but not all, are plant-based foods, tonics, algae and extracts chosen to enhance energy levels and encourage greater states of health and well-being. Many of them contain unique and highly concentrated substances not present in everyday foods that we typically consume.

These include elements such as:

• Polysaccharides

• Chlorophyll

• Minerals

• Omega-3s

• Enzymes

• B vitamins

• Adaptogenic constituents

• Triterpenoids

• B-glucans

• Antraquinones

• Isothiocyanates

• Phycocyanin

• MSM and algin

These and many more constituents go to make Superfoods full of the magical components that nourish the body in condensed doses on deep levels.

Do you mean ‘organic? Aren’t organic foods more expensive?

Superfoods may or may not be organic in origin, but do note that organic is always better than nonorganic for the simple reason there is less chance of pesticides and other chemicals. When it comes to cost, it is worth considering that we either ‘pay now, or pay later’ when it comes to good nutrition. As we age we either spend more on quality food or prescriptions drugs that bring with them a host of complications and side-effects.

If organic isn’t available, it is still better to consume a non-organic but reliably clean superfood than not eat that food at all. Some foods are safer to eat non-organic than others due to the way in which they are grown and harvested. Some fruit for example is heavily sprayed with chemicals to prevent pests and mold, then when it is dried the chemicals are concentrated too. Blueberries and cranberries are not heavily treated crops. But strawberries and grapes (thus raisins) are more likely to be exposed to pesticides, so when possible those ought to be bought organically.

Wouldn’t it be better to eat what I liked and just take supplements?

While supplements have their uses, especially in times of increased stress on the body, it is far better to make natural foods part of our daily lifestyle rather than depending on pills and capsules. Many foods provide multiple benefits to our body, so a wide variety of them will greatly enhance our overall health.

People were educated about food in a simplistic manner by the “food pyramid.” In fact, we can eat according to the food pyramid and still be below optimal levels of health nutrition. We need high quality foods from a broad variety in our diets.

If you take supplements consider teas or infusions rather than pills. Many of the more exotic ones come in powdered form and can be added to smoothies or other recipes. In general, the closer it is to looking and acting like food, the better your body will respond to it like a food.

Take for example a handful of nuts. What better source of natural supplement do you really need? Walnuts, pistachios and other nuts are tasty and ready to eat at any time of the day. Better yet, eating nuts a few times a week can reduce your risk of getting a heart attack by at least 15 percent and possibly 51 percent!

Nutritious whole foods must be at the center of your nutrition plan; you can’t rely solely on supplements to do the job!

Are you promoting veganism or vegetarianism? Should I give up eating animal products?

Not all superfoods are plant based, but the majority are. While shifting to a more plant-based diet has some very definite benefits, not everyone is willing to cut out all meats and animal products. It is still very possible to include the ‘superfoods’ as a part of your meal regime. In fact, once you start finding out how delicious some of these are, you may find the amounts of ‘superfoods’ in your diet will naturally increase anyway.

The term ‘superfood’ sounds fattening; I don’t want to put on more weight!

Superfoods are in no way more fattening than other foods on a weight for weight basis. Many pack a lot of nutrients in a very small space, and that is one of their greatest benefits. Small quantities eaten regularly over a week offer more long-term benefits than large quantities eaten in a short space of time. As you become more familiar with what foods container greater levels of nutrition, you will start to see combinations that not only taste good but pack a big punch in meeting your long-term nutritional needs.

We need to get as much nutrition from as few calories as possible, and with superfoods this is very easy to achieve.

Food is food, how can some be better than others?

Not all foods are created equal. Some so called foods that are commonly eaten contain very little nutrients. For example, Sugar provides high calories and no minerals or vitamins. Superfoods are higher in nutrition and can actually change the course of your biochemistry; they help to stop damage at a cellular level that, left unchecked, can develop into disease.

Incorporating superfoods into your diet helps stop incremental changes in your body that can lead to disease and/or dysfunction. The delightful side effect is that you feel better, have more energy, look better, and can embrace all that life has to offer you with greater optimism.

Question: What health conditions benefit from a change to eating more superfoods?

The foods you choose to eat each day determine whether you develop chronic disease or a vigorous
extended life. They can prevent or greatly reduce risk of vision problems, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and a host of killers. More people have become aware that the best way to treat disorders such as adrenal fatigue, malnourishment, neurotoxicity, auto-immune disease and obesity is with better choices in the foods we eat. Superfoods also help to improve adrenal strength, vitamin-mineral uptake, digestive fortitude, libido, immune response, neurological capacity and/or vital organ functioning.

These statements are supported by a wide range of impressive and irrefutable research over the last 20 to 30 years. According to some reports, scientists argue that a minimum of 30 percent of cancers are related to diet and maybe 70 percent.

Do I have to eat ALL these foods? Some of them I dislike; will I be nutritionally deficient if I don’t eat them?

Every food provides something different: Some are a rich source of protein or fiber but void of many vitamins and minerals. Other superfoods contain disease-fighting phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals but no protein. The secret to obtain what we need from our food is consuming a variety in our weekly diet.

And not ALL superfoods are suitable for you and your constitution. Whereas some individuals can eat foods rich in oils, other individuals, depending on their dosha type, need to eat dryer, less oily foods. Having a greater understanding of your dosha type and the foods to enhance your energy levels is worth pursuing.

There is also the ‘personal like and dislike’ factor to consider. Looking at the types of superfoods available and the benefits we get from them means we can conveniently choose between them to find those that are good for us and suit our taste buds.

Denise Bradford is a Wellness Coach student with the International Association of Wellness Professionals.; visit iawpwellnesscoach.com

Wellness professionals, holistic health practitioners, coaches or other health-minded, heart-centered entrepreneurs who wants to learn the business and marketing tools to create lasting success can get a FREE Wellness Professional’s Success Starter Kit at iawp-connect.com to jumpstart a wellness practice today. Suzanne Monroe is a Holistic Business Coach and the Founder & CEO of the International Association of Wellness Professionals, where
passionate practices become thriving businesses.