• 16 Mar 2009
  • Reading time 14 mins
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Imagine getting a prescription from your doctor for broccoli, garlic and wheatgrass. This is the scenario that scientists are predicting, as more and more phytochemicals are found in food.

With the discovery of more and more phytonutrients, medicine is coming full circle and starting, once again, to embrace the words of Hippocrates - “Let food be your medicine, and medicine your food.” Certain foods have been found to be particularly powerful health promoters. It is highly beneficial to include these ‘superfoods’ in your daily diet. Aloe vera Extracts of Aloe vera first became popular as a proven skin healer. Aloe actually accelerates fibroblast development in the skin which is necessary for collagen repair and wrinkle prevention. But recent research shows this ancient remedy does much more. It is a powerful detoxifier, antiseptic and tonic for the nervous system. It also has immune-boosting and anti-viral properties.

Exactly what the ‘active ingredient’ is remains a bit of a mystery. Aloe vera is rich in mucopolysaccharides, one of which is called acemannan, but also contains lignins, enzymes, antiseptic agents plus vitamins, minerals, essential fats and amino acids. Researcher by Doctor Jeffrey Bland found that adding Aloe vera to one’s daily diet improved digestion, absorption and elimination139. As such, it is an aid to digestion. There is some controversy about the best source. Most authorities agree that too much ‘aloin’, an ingredient in the outer flesh, has a purgative effect. Hence, some companies ‘fillet’ the leaf to produce a gel from the inner part.

Other companies process the whole leaf in such a way to remove the aloin. Concentration also varies from one product to another. Technicalities aside, there seems great benefit in taking a measure of Aloe Vera each day as a general health tonic. Berries Berries and other fruits with a purple/blue colour such as black grapes, bilberries, cranberries, blackcurrants and blueberries are especially rich in a type of flavonoid called anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins. These phytonutrients are very powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They are substantially stronger than vitamin E in this regard140 and are well worth including in your diet, either by eating berries when available or by supplementing concentrated extracts. Many advanced antioxidant formulas now contain a source of these flavonoids, for example bilberry extract.

Blue-Green Algae
These organisms are literally at the bottom of the food chain and represent the purest nutrition you can get, rich in chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, essential fats and phytonutrients. Spirulina: is a blue-green alga which flourishes in the warm water lakes of Mexico and Africa. It is 60 per cent protein and a rich source of essential fats including GLA, vitamins and minerals. It is especially rich in beta-carotene - 3 grams provide as much as 16,000ius. Spirulina has been shown to have numerous health benefits, particularly in relation to arthritis, immune system enhancement and skin problems. It is a worthwhile addition to a supplement programme at around 3 grams a day. Quality can vary - go for high quality, organic spirulina. Chlorella is another kind of alga and, like spirulina, it’s rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll.

Klamath Lake Blue Green Algae Refers to a particular species of alga (Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae) which is only found in Klamath Lake in Oregon, USA. The lake is very nutrient rich due to run-off from several rivers originating in the surrounding mountains and it is abundant in this algae which is harvested and freeze-dried. It has similar benefits to spirulina. As with all algae products, quality can vary so choose carefully. It is a worthwhile addition to a supplement programme at around 3 grams a day. Carrots, Sweet Potato, Watercress and Peas All these foods are very rich in carotenoids and beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients. They’re great to eat on a regular basis. Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, mashed and are great in soups. A carrot a day may indeed keep the doctor away.

Cruciferous Vegetables: These members of the Brassica family are rich sources of the anti-cancer phytochemicals isothiocyanates. They include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cress, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard radish and turnip, and have been linked to a decreased cancer risk. Research has shown that if you eat cabbage more than once a week, you are only one-third as likely to develop colon cancer as someone who never eats cabbage141 i.e. one serving of cabbage a week could cut your chances of colon cancer by 60 per cent. Both broccoli and Brussels sprouts show a dose-dependent protective response against cancer. One particular phytochemical in these foods, glucosinolate, has been shown to significantly increase liver detoxification potential142 - a 30 per cent increase was achieved by eating three servings of Brussels sprouts a day.

Essential Oils In spite of the bad name given to fats there are two we cannot live without. These are Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. From these two families of fats, the body makes cell membranes, brain tissue and prostaglandins, powerful hormone-like substances that control cardiovascular health, fertility, sex hormones, brain and nerve function, skin health and a host of other essential processes. Almost all food processing damages essential fats and they rapidly become rancid. So food manufacturers have carefully kept them out of modern food. Any kind of frying not only destroys these oils in food, but damages them so that they have a detrimental effect. The consequence is that our modern-day diet is devoid of fresh seeds and their oils, but abundant in processed and cooked food. This produces both fatty acid deficiency and an imbalance between these two important nutrients. In fact, approximately three quarters of people are grossly deficient in essential fats, while the average person today gets one sixth of the intake of Omega 3 oils of people in the 19th century.

One of the simplest ways to prevent deficiency and correct the balance is to have one or two tablespoons of the right kind of oils a day, added to salads, soups, cereals and other food, after cooking. Two ......

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