Haims: Now that springtime is here, eating healthy is easier than ever (column)
With spring just around the corner, take note: springtime superfoods can help support a fit mind and body.
For many people who have chosen to live in the mountain towns of Colorado, the desire to maintain an active lifestyle is extremely important. Our majestic surroundings inspire such a sense of well-being and activity that many of us have chosen to forego the opportunity to park our cars in the garage. The value placed on having our athletic equipment and toys nearby and readily accessible is so great that many of us would rather shovel our cars out of snow and scrape windshields in the cold winter mornings than forego the opportunity to have our road bikes, mountain bikes, jogging strollers, motorcycles, snowmobiles skis and golf clubs nearby.
Maintain healthy food choices
Take a look around the ski lift lines while skiing; odds are you will see “older people’” in their 70s, 80s and sometimes 90s. As summer comes around, look around and take notice of the older people who are jogging, cycling, playing tennis and, of course, golfing.
It’s not by happenstance that these “older people” have been able to maintain an active lifestyle, and many have supported their lifestyle by maintaining healthy food choices. Growing up in a time before the prevalence of processed and fast foods had its benefits. The ability to remain active is not just a physical issue. Rather, in large part, it also has to do with the ability to maintain a healthy body and brain — one that can fend off disease and atrophy.
Research from the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic (our nation’s leading neurological hospitals and research centers) all confirm that diet and exercise directly impact your brain health.
So, when you think of how your diet and lifestyle will enable you to remain active, it is essential that your brain functions with optimal performance.
With warm temperatures around the corner, there is great opportunity to incorporate nutrient-rich foods into your lifestyle. Often, such foods have become coined “superfoods” because they contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately, there are no standardized criteria for what constitutes a superfood. However, there are “super” foods — foods that are good for your heart, brain and your overall health. Super foods provide the body with minerals, nutrients, essential fatty acids and antioxidants needed to fight many chronic diseases.
While foods such as cruciferous vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fatty fish and fruits rank high on the super food list, ones that are rich in antioxidants may be particularly important to brain health as they are believed to assist in preventing cell damage and protect against many chronic disease including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Here are some great springtime foods that are both nourishing and detoxifying.
• Blueberries: According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the USDA, this fruit has some of the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) levels. Many believe that this fruit is particularly effective at decreasing free radicals associated with cancer.
• Red grapes and cherries: In addition to these fruits high ORAC levels, they also assist in anti-inflammation (via anthocyanins), lowering blood pressure nasal allergy relief (via quercetin) and beta carotene which the body converts in to vitamin A. Vitamin A strengthens the immune system.
• Artichokes: Artichokes stimulate the production of glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant.
• Mushrooms: High in the nutrient selenium, this food is particularly beneficial for the thyroid.
• Spinach: Is both high in vitamin C and folate. These supplements reinforce the immune system and assist in fighting allergies.
There are many other foods that can help the antioxidant process and improve the way your body processes food into nutrients. Find the healthy foods that you like and integrate them into your daily diet.
While there is currently no guarantee that healthier foods will cure chronic disease or cure your ailments, the preponderance of evidence shows a healthy diet and lifestyle will substantially better your all-round health.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. His contact information is http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.