Super food. What does that mean, exactly?
A super food is one considered nutrient-rich and particularly beneficial for our health.
As you can imagine, there are many super foods from which to choose. Some foods promote healthy skin, others a healthy gut flora and others can even help reduce the effects of stress on the body.
For many of us on a gluten-free diet for medical reasons, gluten is not the only food we must avoid. We have multiple food allergies and intolerances. Some have chemical sensitivities that span from perfumes to components in plastic products.
Many of us have other health conditions – Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s Disease… The list of health issues seems endless when it comes to listing the maladies you share with me.
I am grateful that you share. I understand. I suspect this is why you feel comfortable reaching out, telling me your story, asking for my input.
I’ve been there, too.
Just over a decade ago, I suffered an out-of-the-blue Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) while at home watching TV. Fourteen more followed over the following six-months.
TIAs occur when blood flow to the brain briefly stops. They are warning signs of a major stroke. I was caught totally off guard.
Obviously, I made it through, but at the time no one – not even my team of neurologists – was sure I would survive. The prognosis was a 90% chance of experiencing a “fatal episode”. Doctors scheduled more tests and sent me home to wait it out.
Life is not always a bowl of cherries.
Although this was prior to my going gluten-free, I was already a staunch advocate of healthy eating and healthy living and the affect food has on our bodies. In fact, I asked my team of specialists if food might play a role in my sudden and unexpected health issues. They said, “That’s ridiculous, you have an exceptionally healthy diet.”
It did not seem so ridiculous – the link between foods I ate and my health issues – when, in 2009, research showed Celiac disease (CD) is a potential treatable cause of strokes and TIAs, especially in young patients demonstrating no gastrointestinal symptoms of CD. That “young patient” was me and the foods I was eating (gluten) may have been causing those TIAs!
I share this snippet of my personal story with you for three reasons: (1) to show a terrific example of how diet plays a major role in our health, (2) to let you know it’s OK to admit things aren’t OK, and (3) I think it helps you to know I’ve personally been where many of you are.
A Passion to Meet You Where You Are
That’s why I am so passionate about meeting you where you are on your healthy journey. It doesn’t matter to me if you aren’t eating your healthiest yet or if you’re overweight or even if you aren’t sticking to your gluten-free diet perfectly.
I love you as you are, wherever you are on the path to optimal health. I am eager to journey with you, helping you along and sharing what I learned along my own path, as well as my professional insight into natural products research.
Together, we will get there. If you’re thinking of turning over a new leaf in the New Year, you’re in the perfect spot. You can do this… WE can do this.
Eat the Foods You Love, Never Feel Deprived and Achieve Optimal Health
A great way to start turning your health around is by incorporating the healthiest foods into your daily meals. You do not have to be an extreme green smoothie sipping, juicing, vegan or vegetarian to do it, either. Not that any of those things are necessarily bad. But you get what I mean, right? There is no need to become an extremist, doing things that may make you feel deprived or miserable.
The truth is, you can eat real food that you love, that is good for your body. You can enjoy super food nutrition without compromising flavor, texture, and satisfaction. You can realize optimal health without being deprived. That is the focus of 2014 here on the site.
Let’s get a jump start by taking a look at some of my favorite super foods, all with exceptional qualities when it comes to nutrition. These are the foods I focused on when I found myself in that scary place with my own health. I turn to them time and time again when my body tells me it needs special attention in certain areas. (Another topic I will cover in Food Solutions this year!)
Naturally Gluten-Free Super Foods for Optimal Health
Before the list, a few points to keep in mind:
- All foods aren’t for all people. If you have allergies or intolerances to any foods on the list, you shouldn’t eat them.
- A change in your diet influences all your body systems. Do not make any dietary changes until you have consulted your doctor, especially if you’re experiencing serious health issues.
- Certain health conditions and medications can be negatively affected by food. For example, I recommend ginger tea for its anti-inflammatory and overall health properties; however, for individuals taking blood thinners, ginger is NOT recommended. It has a direct impact on blood thinners. Consult your physician first, before making dietary changes, if you are on any medications.
- Nutritional ideas and information are meant for supplementing, not replacing, medical advice or treatments your health care provider suggests.
Dry Beans and Peas
There is significant scientific research suggesting phytochemicals (powerful nutrients like antioxidants and carotenoids found in plants) in beans and peas can prevent certain cancers and even suppress tumor development. The American Cancer Society, based on existing research, promotes beans on their anti-cancer diet.
For a thorough how-to on preparing, cooking, and incorporating dry beans into your diet, check out my article, “Forget Food Groups…Let’s Talk Taste Groups and Ayurveda“.
Bursting with valuable phytochemicals called flavanoids, antioxidants, and anthocyanins, berries like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are excellent sources of nutritional support for our bodies.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy berries is making my “Naked Berry Bread Spread“… That’s ONE INGREDIENT jam and I promise, you’ll never buy the store-bought stuff again.
The little “trees” are full of vitamins A and C. They’re also a terrific way to get calcium, especially for those of us who are living (healthier) dairy free lives! The vitamin C in broccoli increases calcium absorption, so this is a win-win!
Broccoli has also been shown to protect the liver function.
Certain compounds, isothiocyanates, found in the Brassica vegetables (that’s broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, etc.) can reduce thyroid hormone. If you have thyroid issues, you may consider speaking to your doctor about removing these foods from your diet or consume them in moderation paired with iodine-rich foods (iodized salt, sea vegetables like kelp, and seafood are primary sources of iodine).
This ruby fruit contains substances that fight inflammation throughout the body. Research shows cherries contain two specific compounds that stop tumor growth and can cause cancer cells to die.
Cherries are also loaded with anthocyanins, the same phytochemical found in berries mentioned earlier.
Peaking during summer, it’s a great idea to stock up on fresh cherries when they are in season and and spend a little time removing the pits and freezing the fruit. A little work then will pay off with the benefit of fresh nutrient dense cherries in the freezer year-round. (This is a BIG money-saver, too!)
Garlic & Onions (in the raw!)
The compounds responsible for the health benefits of these pungent foods are most effective when consumed raw.
Some research studies indicate some beneficial nutrients are retained after garlic is cooked. Even if you can’t tolerate raw garlic, you may enjoy trying it roasted. For a simple how-to on roasting garlic click HERE!
For my yummy recipe for simple Kale Chips and more reasons to eat kale, click HERE.
Actually a seed, quinoa is naturally gluten free and used as a “whole grain” in gluten and grain free cooking. It is full of fiber and antioxidants and is an excellent source of complete protein for those on a plant-based diet.
For more on quinoa, what it really is, exactly how to use it, and a couple recipes to get you started incorporating it into your gluten free diet, check out my article, “Getting Enough Protein in Your Gluten Free Diet is Simple, Affordable, and Delicious with this Whole ‘Grain’“.
You’ll love my super-simple Gluten Free One-Dish Baked Quinoa for the best breakfast ever (It uses quinoa flakes!).
Of course, this list of super foods is by no means exhaustive. If you’ve attended one of my webinars or one of my live appearances, you know that I discuss many, many more foods with powerful properties and health benefits. This is simply a “get you started” list of foods I regularly turn to for their beneficial characteristics, provided to give you a jump start on your healthy eating plan in the New Year.
It’s More Than Just the Food
Know what else I found beneficial as I transformed my life through the foods I ate? Realizing other people had been where I was and understood exactly how I felt when I hit that low spot in terms of my health.
I’ve been there, and I get it. Great news is, I made it through. So can you, so don’t give up! I’m here to support you!
The next time you hit a low spot, feel free to use the Contact Form here on the site. I want to hear from you. I do not want you to feel you’re in this alone, because you are not. I’m with you all the way.