Added to the diet, these powerful staples can contribute greatly to your patients’ health and well-being — and yours, too.
By Pamela Dunn, DC
Are superfoods a part of your clinical practice? They should be. After the extra indulging over the holiday season, instead of going on a binge diet that won’t last, make an effort to eat better foods and put them at the top of your grocery list.
Sticking to a healthy plan will benefit you and your health. The effect that diet can have on how you feel today as well as into the future is priceless. Even if you are healthy, making a few positive alterations can have an amazing impact.
“Practice what you preach” is the key here. By incorporating these nutrient-packed foods into your own diet, your patients can benefit from your experience and, in turn, your nutritional advice. When adjusting an individual patient, you can discuss healthy tips about superfoods and the diet.
Bringing a superfood and its benefits into awareness can offer long-lasting benefits. If you hold group talks, you might present a “Superfood of the Week” to be the focus of the special attention it deserves.
You shouldn’t necessarily eat specific foods for specific ailments like taking a pill; but having a healthy consistent diet that incorporates the variety of superfoods can contribute to combating disease, maintaining target weight, and increasing vitality.
Superfoods can assist in lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. And unlike drugs, they have no side effects.
Among the many types of superfoods, the following are representative of the category, readily available, and high in phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Pumpkin is packed with various nutrients and carotenoids, particularly alpha and beta carotene. Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigments — orange, yellow, and red-colored, fat-soluble compounds occurring in a variety of plants.
Carotenoids help protect against free radicals, enhance cell-to-cell communication, and modulate the immune response. They also protect your skin and eyes from damage caused by ultra violet light.
Dark chocolate contains various minerals including iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and some protein.
Studies have shown that both cocoa and high-cocoa chocolate not only taste good and stimulate endorphins, but also help lower blood pressure. Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which acts as an antidepressant. It can help lower cholesterol, among other cardiovascular benefits.
Cranberries contain significant amounts of antioxidants, and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Cranberries can help prevent bacteria-causing infections, particularly in the bladder and urinary tract. They are a great natural preventative for recurring bladder infections.
Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, which help fight cancer and other diseases. They can assist in maintaining good vision and work to prevent macular degeneration in the eye. They contain vitamin C, promote and maintain digestive health, urinary tract health, help lower blood cholesterol, assist in Alzheimer’s prevention, and aid with weight control.
Blueberries are also good for the complexion, and are anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory.
Red wine has greater health benefits than white wine. Wines with higher tannin levels carry more of the protective polyphenols that are good for blood vessel protection. The polyphenols in wine have a specific interaction with the lining of blood vessels that is able to dilate the blood vessels, relax them, and have anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory effects.
Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of prostate, breast, lung, and other cancers, and has heart-protective effects. Research shows that the absorption of lycopene is greatest when tomatoes are cooked with olive oil. In one study, a combination of tomato and broccoli was more effective at slowing tumor growth than tomatoes or broccoli alone.
Spinach is low in calories, yet extremely high in vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. A 1-cup serving has more than 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamins K and A and is an excellent source of vitamins B2 and B6, magnesium, iron (non-heme), calcium, and potassium as well.
It contains more than half the daily requirements for folate and manganese. Spinach can also improves brain function.
Spinach is a very good source of dietary fiber, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamin E. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and niacin.
Snacking on a handful of almonds is a heart-healthy habit that can help one achieve an adequate intake of essential nutrients while reducing hunger. Almonds can help to reduce cholesterol as part of a diet low in saturated fat and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Of the 14 grams of fat found in 1 ounce of almonds, 9 grams are monounsaturated (good fat). They also contain dietary fiber, potassium, copper, zinc, iron, vitamin E, and protein. Almonds are also unique in that they provide various minerals essential for bone health, namely calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Cherries have several important health benefits, from helping ease the pain of arthritis and gout to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers — particularly of the colon.
Cherries also contain melatonin, which may help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss, and delay the aging process. Cherries also contain other important nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, and folate.
Studies have found that a cherry-enriched diet can help in loss of weight, body fat (especially “belly” fat), inflammation, and cholesterol. All of the above contribute to risk of heart disease.
Just one serving (1 cup, preferably raw) of broccoli offers power-packed health benefits of vitamins C, A, E, K, B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6. Broccoli is rich in minerals, including folic acid, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, tryptophan, iron, calcium, zinc, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and beta carotene. Broccoli is also a source of fiber and protein.
Well-known for its many health benefits, garlic contains protein, vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as the minerals iron, selenium, and calcium. Garlic can increase the strength of the immune system. It has antibiotic, antifungal, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. Daily doses (half clover per day minimum) help naturally fight off the common cold and flu.
Garlic also helps support the circulatory system, which may help lower the risk of heart disease.
Whether you choose all or a few, the superfoods listed above are nutrient-rich and can provide numerous health benefits. You and your patients should put them at the top of the shopping list as part of a healthy and delicious diet.
Pamela Dunn, DC, is originally from Michigan, but has been practicing in Australia for almost 20 years. She is co-founder and director of Hillarys Chiropractic, in Western Australia. She is an instrument-based chiropractor, instructor, mentor, and writer. She can be reached via www.chiropam.com or through www.hillaryschiropractic.com.au.