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Perhaps you have heard your mother or grandmother tell you to eat more vegetables. Why? Dark green vegetables, especially, contain vitamins and minerals that are as important to adults as much as to growing children. Athletes, for example, are expounding the virtues of eating more green and leafy vegetables as well as beans and legumes as much for the nutrients as for filling up on low-calorie food that helps keep excess weight off and nourish the body.
A few years ago, a group of nutritionists and scientists visited a village in a remote part of China where people reportedly did heavy and intense work and often walked or ascended mountainous regions daily. In their quest to find out what these people attributed their long and healthy life to, they were told, “Eat more vegetables”.
People have been told that store-bought vegetable juices contain less nutritional value than freshly juiced vegetables because the nutrients are processed out of the vegetables when heated. They also have been told that the processed vegetable juices have vitamins and minerals added back into the juice in processing, a less-effective way to absorb artificial nutrients.
In recent years, juicing has become popular to Americans who want to get a quick and easy helping of vegetables being full of healthy nutrients and anti-oxidants. There are many vegetable juice recipes that are tasty and nourishing. There are also many brands of veggie juicers. Be sure to research the one that will net you the most nutrition if you decide to juice vegetables and fruits.
Perhaps the wisest thing to do is to simply eat a wide variety of vegetables in as close as fresh and natural a state as possible. The act of chewing is important because digestion in the stomach begins when chewing activates acids that prepare the stomach to receive food and begin breaking it down in the digestion process. Without these acids, the vegetable juice is flooded into the system and the nutrients are not absorbed as nature intended, and also dilute the small amounts of acid present with the volume of juice.
What’s more, the pulp of the vegetable is often discarded instead of being consumed. Many nutrients are found in the pulp, another reason the body has acids to breakdown the food when it enters the stomach. (Potatoes are known to have much of their nutritional value in their skin.)
To create an anti-inflammatory food diet, consume foods that will help the body regulate the metabolism and eat a diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. As you develop the menus and eat more vegetables, take notice of the effects certain foods have on your body. Are you steadily feeling more energetic? Do you find you are able to do more in a day without feeling as tired as you used to? Do you notice you walk at a slightly faster pace? Athletes are particularly in tune with their body and tell of increases in strength and endurance after only beginning to improve their diets by adding more vegetables.
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are packed with fiber, anti-oxidants, and Omega 3s. Look for organically grown produce, or be sure to wash thoroughly to remove the chemicals and pesticides that tend to accumulate on the leaves.
Found in broccoli and its kissing cousins, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, a compound named diindolylmethane (DIM), has been shown to fight inflammation and help boost the immune system. These super-veggies also contain sulforane, a phytonutrient that helps liver function and increases your body’s natural detoxification ability. Eat them raw or steam them to preserve the beneficial nutrients, which can be broken down by cooking methods such as boiling or frying. As you may know, frozen vegetables have almost no nutritional value because the act of freezing depletes the chemical makeup of the food. Frozen foods also tastes flat—just ask any foodie.
Pay particular attention to joint pain and inflammation, and see if your new diet of more vegetables and nutrients is making a difference in a few weeks. You will be pleased at the progress in weeks and months to come.