Superfoods for a Super Long Life
Recent research shows that specific chemicals in foods — such as sulforaphane, a phytochemical in broccoli — work with your genes to ratchet up your body’s natural defense systems, helping to inactivate toxins and free radicals before they can do the damage that leads to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and even premature aging.
And the hope for the future is to be able to tell someone what diseases or maladies they are might be genetically predispositioned to early on, so their diets can be focused accordingly. We’ll know which ones to add, which ones to avoid, and be able to take a proactive role in preventing or deterring a genetic disease. In the meantime, many foods have been determined to pack a punch to the aging process.
Lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes red, also appears to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and macular degeneration. It’s also been associated in greater self-sufficiency in elderly adults. While fresh tomatoes have a good hit of lycopene, the most absorbable forms are found in cooked tomato products, such as spaghetti sauce and soup and prepared salsas. Pink grapefruit, guava, red bell peppers, and watermelon are also rich in lycopene.
Eating at least two cups of orange fruits like sweet potatoes, squash and carrots boosts intake of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, essential for healthy skin and eyes, and which may also reduce the risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis. Lutein and lycopene, also found in orange produce, also help reduce the risk of macular degeneration and may protect skin from sun damage and even reduce wrinkling as well. Mangos and cantaloupes are also beta-carotene endowed.
And if you don’t do anything else to change your diet, eat your dark leafy greens. They have been showed to significantly reduce your risk for heart disease and may also save your eyesight. Dietary guidelines advise at least three cups of greens a week. Frozen or bagged is as good as fresh.
Don’t forget the mental aging process either. The heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids have also recently been shown to keep your brain sharp. A recent study found that a higher intake of fatty fish significantly reduced mental decline. If fresh fish isn’t an option, go for canned tuna, salmon, and sardines.
Superfoods that Get you Moving
It’s no wonder so many Americans suffer with constipation (4 million of us, to be exact). Our diet of meat and processed food contains little fiber. Most of us are lucky if we’re getting in half of the 30 grams of fiber that we should each day. Without that bulk in our diet, it can make bowel movements practically immovable.
The human digestive tract was designed for unprocessed plant foods that are loaded with dietary fiber: beans, leafy greens, fresh and dried fruits, vegetables and whole grains. High levels of dietary fiber increase both the frequency and quantity of bowel movements, decreasing the transit time of stools, as well as the absorption of toxins from the stool.
Drink at least eight to twelve 8-oz. glasses of clean water per day. Hard, dry stools are a classic sign of dehydration. A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water when you wake up and then every hour after that.
Try adding some wheat or barley grass to your daily routine. Mix two to three teaspoons of a nutrient-rich blend of dehydrated wheat and/or barley grass in water, and have another serving later in the day. These drinks have a restorative action on the intestinal tract and are especially good for constipation.
As a supplement to a healthy, high-fiber diet, bran and prunes are particularly effective in relieving constipation. Whole prunes and prune juice possess good laxative effects. Eight ounces is usually an effective dose. A similar amount of aloe vera juice is also helpful.
Vitamin C rich foods can help as well, as they help with food and nutrient absorption. Try parsley, broccoli, bell pepper, strawberries, oranges, lemon juice, papaya, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts, as they’re all great sources of vitamin C.
Superfoods to Rejuvenate Body, Mind and Spirit
When the goal is rejuvenating the body, mind and spirit, the method should be smaller, more frequent snacks and meals. This will help keep energy levels on an even keel, and regulate your blood sugar levels to avoid spikes and dips. When you choose the right combination of foods, your body gets the much-needed boost it needs to sustain itself properly, even through those slumps later in the day. So dump those high sugar junk foods and reach for the following foods and get that boost you need.
Any fresh fruit, especially with skins or seeds like peaches, apples, pears, oranges, and strawberries, is a great source of vitamins and fiber. In the summer you can choose a peach and get plenty of dietary fiber, niacin (vitamin B3), potassium, beta carotene and vitamin A, plus high amounts of vitamin C. Niacin is important for providing energy for cell tissue growth. Along with regulating fluid balance, potassium helps maintain the electrical stability of the cells of your heart and nervous system and is important for cell and muscle growth. Vitamin B12 plays a role in red blood cell formation, nerve function, and metabolizing protein and fat.
Dried Apricots and Almonds combination provides a high amount of vitamin A, iron protein and dietary fiber. Both foods are low in cholesterol and sodium, and apricots are a great source of potassium, which is important in regulating your body’s fluid balance. The vitamin A in apricots contributes to healthy vision, bone growth, and reproduction, and helps fight infection.
Raisins are a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol, and low-sodium snack with significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, copper, and iron, and when mixed with low-fat yogurt, you also get riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin B12, as well as a high amount of calcium, which is needed not only for strong bones and teeth but also plays a key role in the normal functioning of the heart and other muscles.
Baby carrots and sesame sticks are a tasty treat that will provide significant amounts of beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, iron, potassium, copper, and fiber. Beta carotene helps protect against diseases like heart disease and some cancers.
Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, for better night vision, and to fight infection and respiratory ailments. Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential to human life, helping to form red blood cells and break down proteins, and playing a key role in cell growth and division.
Peanut butter on some whole grain crackers is an excellent source of protein, iron, niacin, and fiber. Peanut butter on celery is a classic snack, has great staying power, and the celery is stuffed with numerous vitamins, minerals, and is high in fiber. Low-fat string cheese is a good quick source of protein and calcium. They come in easy-to-carry individual servings and you can add a piece of fresh fruit for extra fiber.
If your still hungry for more information on superfoods, these are some great books!
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