Superfoods! Superfoods? And Superfood Supplements?
By Dr. Jody Stanislaw, Naturopathic Physician
Superfoods! I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz. But what exactly is the buzz all about anyway? What are superfoods? Do you really need to eat superfoods? What are the benefits? How do you choose which superfoods are best for you? Well, wonder no longer. Lets get right to the answers…
No surprise to anyone is the fact that humans today are busier and have more on their plate, so to speak, than ever before. We eat on the run, often literally standing up. We grab ready made meals as we rush to our next appointment. We finish meals in minutes, gulping down food that not only have we not been fully present for as we chew but have barely even chewed fully before swallowing.
Furthermore, even for those of us who attain our 10-15 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (yes! 10-15…that’s not a typo!), today’s mass food production techniques result in foods of inferior nutrient density, not to mention the unwanted added chemicals. Enter superfoods!
What are superfoods? The term ‘superfoods’ simply refers to those foods that are the most densely packed with beneficial nutrients and minerals compared to most other foods; foods with the most nutritional bang for your buck, so to speak. Ideally, it is best to eat superfoods in their nature-made form, and as often as you can, if not daily. Eating whole foods (as opposed to processed foods which have been stripped of nutrients and usually come with added chemicals…yuck!) is always what we here at KitchenTableMedicine.com advocate.
Here is a short list of gold medal winners: Blueberries! (my personal favorite…I keep them in the freezer and eat at least a handful of them daily all year long = easy!), broccoli, spinach, walnuts, avocado, salmon, green tea, beans, pumpkin, flax seeds, goji berries, bee pollen, pure dark chocolate, and last but certainly not least, that dazzling, deep green, leafy beauty kale! (And there are many more…. you can read about them listed in Dr. Nicole’s article on her favorite “Superfoods.”)
Do I really need superfoods? If you want optimal health and functioning of every cell in your body, the answer is, ‘yes.’
What are the benefits of eating superfoods? By giving your body a diet densely packed with nutrients and minerals, you are allowing every cell in your body to thrive. Furthermore, vibrant cells efficiently and effectively protect themselves from the inevitable waste and toxins that our bodies are subject to on a daily basis, in essence having the energy to constantly detoxify themselves.
Superfoods can improve your digestion and help you to optimally absorb the nutrients contained in your meals. They can enhance your circulation, which increases nutrient delivery to every cell throughout your body. For you, all of this translates to mean increased energy and endurance, enhanced well-being mentally and physically, and optimizing prevention against illness and disease. (Basically, all good news for your body and health!)
How do I choose which superfoods are best for me? This answer is simple! If you eat at least one or two or more of your favorite superfoods on a daily basis, you’re doing great! But reality is, getting 10-15 servings of them a day is a huge challenge for many and we here at KitchenTable are dedicated to giving you convenient tips on how to make living healthfully simple.
Thus, this is one of the few cases I support adding a supplement to your daily routine. The good news is that there are many great superfood supplement options made by respectable companies, resulting in high quality products, via environmentally friendly techniques.
In choosing a product, for not only the health of your body, but for the health of our exquisite planet, I recommend choosing a company that uses ecological, sustainable, and fair trade practices. Powdered is a common and good form. I don’t recommend pill form because many of those can pass through your body without ever being fully absorbed. Organic ingredients are of course ideal, especially because the whole point is to reduce your ingestion of chemicals. (And again, by using organic products, you benefit the earth by supporting companies that don’t add yucky toxins into our environment!) But if not organic, don’t stress yourself out; you are still likely doing your body good.
One caveat though, when it comes to saving money, I never recommend going for cheap when it comes to the precious nutrients you fuel your body with! (If you want to save money, choose another aspect of your life, like going on a walk with your friends instead of to the movies, or taking the bus instead of filling up your car with gas, or…,or…,or…!)
The benefits to your body of some of the most common superfoods found in superfood supplements are listed below:
- Spirulina: has more protein gram for gram than any other food and is the richest source of beta-carotene and vitamin B-12 on the earth. (B-12 = increased energy!)
- Blue/Green Algae: is a concentrated source of PEA, a key nutrient for enhancing mood; can also decrease hunger, and increase energy and endurance.
- Chlorella is one of the world’s strongest natural heavy metal chelators and detoxifiers.
- Wheatgrass has an endless list of benefits so I can only list a few here: detoxification, stimulates metabolism, reduces blood pressure, stimulates the thyroid gland, and restores alkalinity to the blood.
- Seaweeds: Dulse is an exceptional natural source of every mineral the body needs, thus serving to effectively alkalize the body. Kelp provides minerals such as iodine for thyroid function and iron for blood cell function, is a powerful detoxifier, and can increase metabolism and help balance blood lipid concentrations.
- Flax Seeds are a good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids which help reduce inflammation in the body, provide healthy membranes to cells, can reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. They also contain antioxidants and the seeds (whole or ground) are a great source of fiber.
- Goji berries are exceptionally dense in antioxidants, reducing free radical damage in the body. They have been used for centuries to provide protection to the liver, benefit eyesight, as an aphrodisiac, to boost the immune system, and improve longevity. Reports have also shown they work as an anti-coagulant, and can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
As a wrap up, including superfoods in your life is an important and simple step for optimizing your health. Eat a few of your favorite superfoods in whole form on a regular or even daily basis and add a supplement to your daily routine…and with how great you feel, you’ll be energized all day long! Enjoy!
Dr. Jody Stanislaw, ND has a passion for helping patients optimize their well-being via simplifying their life and focusing on the Basic Four Pillars of Good Health: optimal nutrition, regular movement, adequate sleep, and a healthy spiritual and emotional life.
Additionally, having lived with Type I diabetes since she was seven years old, she has grown a special interest in working with other diabetics.