Tag Archives: fresh food

Your Body Is Wise But Needs You to Pay Attention

body

Although complementary medicine has made strong advances, mainstream medical practice still keeps faith with drugs and surgery as the default methods of treatment. The way forward for anyone who wants to establish a high level of wellbeing isn’t going to come via the family doctor but through self-care. The first rule of self-care is to trust in the body’s wisdom and to make choices in line with it.

Living in accord with your body’s wisdom is simple and natural, which is why practices that hovered on the fringe when I was first practicing medicine in the Seventies are now tried and true. ┬áThe following points are unarguable: Continue reading

10 Reasons to Eat Fresh Produce Even if Scientists Promote Canned and Frozen

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 1.32.58 PMAccording to a new report published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture by researchers at UC Davis, canned and frozen produce may have as many, if not more, nutrients than fresh produce. How can this be?

This extremely misleading announcement draws on the fact that, by the time that cucumber or lettuce or broccoli makes it into your hands at the supermarket, fruits and vegetables often sit on trucks and in shelves for days after they were picked. Vitamin and other nutrient levels can drop dramatically in that brief interval, whereas the process of canning and freezing may better preserve these nutrients in the long-run.

The report, and other similar ones published over the years, may be intended to inspire more widespread acceptance of canned and frozen produce, and not to say that we should do away with fresh produce altogether. Obviously for those who can find farmer’s markets or other local sources of fresh-picked fruits and veggies, canned and frozen varieties will pale in comparison. The unfortunate reality, however, is that too many communities in this country have little to no access to fresh foods. If you’ve ever heard the term “food desert” then you know what we mean. Broader reform in that regard is certainly necessary, and if canned vegetables provide any temporary palliative then we should be no means shun them.

Food, of course, is a human right. And there are many reasons why fresh produce is essential to overall health and happiness. Here are 10 of our favorite reasons to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, even if canned produce can provide the same nutrients:

  1.  More opportunities for creative cooking. Did you know beets come attached to beautiful, iron-rich greens that can be sauteed and served alongside the roots?
  2. Shopping at the farmer’s market is super fun. Fruits, vegetables, sprouts, cheeses, and breads of every variety! Fresh eggs! Organic meat! Is that home-brewed kombucha?
  3. Have a more tactile experience with your food. There’s something wholly unromantic about ripping the top off a can of green beans… Handling roots, leaves, and washing dirt off is all part of the sensual process of food preparation.
  4. You can compost the stems and excess bits, make soil, and then grow your own produce on your porch, windowsill, or garden!
  5. No amount of re-hydrating and re-constituting can recover the crispy crunch so enjoyable about fresh veggies that gets lost in the freezer.
  6. The metallic aftertaste of a can? No thanks.
  7. No risk of botulism and other bacteria often carried in canned and preserved foods.
  8. If you have extra oranges, berries, or whatnot, you can always pass them out to neighbors and give them as little tokens to people who visit your abode. Can’t quite do the same with a bag of frozen peas…
  9. Eating fresh produce is what people have been doing for centuries. Shouldn’t that count for something?
  10. The golden rule in food consumption: Limit the number of steps it takes for your food to get from the farm to your kitchen as a way of ensuring freshness and healthiness.

What are your reasons for eating fresh produce? Or for eating canned or frozen produce, for that matter?

Make the Food-Mood Connection

Mac and cheese. Chocolate chip cookies. A bite of Ben and Jerry’s. Some call it “comfort food”; others say it’s “food as friend.” However you phrase it, turning to food to soothe the soul has been a short-term defense for coping with unwelcome feelings for decades. And now science is verifying that the food you choose does indeed influence mood.
 
Food and Mood
That what you eat can affect your mind and emotions was first discovered by Richard Wurtman, MD and Judith Wurtman, PhD, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the 1970s, when they found that the sugar and starch in carbohydrate foods boosted a powerful brain chemical called serotonin. Soon they linked serotonin and other neurotransmitters (substances that pass information from cell to cell in the brain) to your every mood, emotion, or craving.
 
For instance, they noted that eating a carbohydrate-rich food, such as pasta or potato chips, elevated serotonin levels, helping you to feel more relaxed and calm; high –protein foods, such as fish or poultry, have the opposite effect: they release substances that let you think and react more quickly and feel more alert and energetic—without the stimulation of caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and many sodas.
 
“Downer” foods
From cookies and cake to ice cream, comfort foods are often high in sugar. This means they may provide some short-term comfort by releasing soothing serotonin, but you won’t get long-term relief; rather, sugar-laden comfort food could worsen negative feelings because its high- sugar content can send your blood-sugar levels plummeting, leaving you even more depressed and fatigued then prior to eating them.
 
Blues busters
Here are some health-filled “blues busting” foods that can help diminish depression—minus the “downer” side effects:
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Almonds
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables
  • Orange fruits and vegetables
  • Seafood

In other words, fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and fish.

A quick tip: Consider chili for a delicious and nourishing bean-based meal, or multigrain bread or cereal as whole grain options.
 
Optimizing your diet by consuming blues-busting foods as often as possible is a sound, scientific step toward defeating unpleasant emotions. In other words, if you consume fresh whole foods in their natural state, you’ll be turning to food that nourishes you with feel-good feelings more often than not.
 
Deborah Kesten, MPH, was the nutritionist on Dean Ornish, MD’s first clinical trial for reversing heart disease through lifestyle changes—without drugs or surgery, and Director of Nutrition on similar research in cardiovascular clinics in Europe. She is the award-winning author of Feeding the Body, Nourishing the Soul, The Healing Secrets of Food, and The Enlightened Diet. Call her at 415.810.7874, or visit her at www.Enlightened-Diet.com to take her FREE What’s Your Eating Style? Quiz, and to learn more about her Whole Person Nutrition Program for wellness, weight loss, heart-health, coaching, and books.
 

 

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