Food As Medicine: Healthy Eats for Hungry Minds

July 26, 2012 at 11:56 am

Image“What is a ‘Healing Food’?” I asked a group of elderly adults at the neighborhood Senior Center. At first I was met with blank stares as if I had asked them to recall what they ate for dinner last Tuesday. While it is not customary in our culture to think of food as ‘healing,’ a few keen minds in the group caught on and suggested some of my favorite healing foods such as Broccoli, Blueberries, Homemade Yogurt, Pomegranate, and Pineapple. This initial question led to a dynamic discussion that highlighted common themes among foods with healing properties.

Food that support healing in the body are typically:

  • Whole Foods: The less processed the better!
  • Antioxidant-Rich: Antioxidants quench the free radicals which fuel inflammation. Bioflavonoids from berries, beta carotene from carrots and vitamin C from broccoli (yes broccoli!) are just a few examples of the antioxidant power packed into everyday foods.
  • High in Omega-3s: Good fats such as omega-3 fatty acids also help reduce inflammation, support a healthy mood, and protect the cardiovascular system. Frequenting foods such as wild salmon, walnuts, flax oil, and green leafy vegetables will increase exposure to this nutrient that is often lacking in American diets.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: Spices such as Turmeric and Ginger have a direct impact on halting inflammation by blocking key enzymes that trigger the inflammatory cascade.
  • Blood-Sugar Balancing: Keeping a healthy balance of fats, complex carbohydrates and proteins in the body will minimize peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels which often results in more sustained energy throughout the day, healthy weight loss, and prevention of mood swings. For example a healthy balanced meal might include sliced avocado (fat) + a side of quinoa (complex carbohydrate) + grilled wild salmon (protein).

Let food become your medicine by filling your plate with foods that fit into one or more of the categories above. Perhaps the more we can all eat from a mindset of health and healing, we might even become sharp enough to remember what we did have for dinner last Tuesday without hesitation!

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