Tag Archive for: food as medicine
A Cooling Smoothie Recipe for hot summer days:
Big handful of cilantro
Big handful of parsley
Big handful of mint
Juice of half a lime
Fresh ginger (4-6 inches by 1/8th inch)
Fresh turmeric (3-4 inches by 1/8th inch or 1/4 tsp. dried)
1/3- ½ an avocado: (essential for texture!)
1 TB hemp hearts or sesame seeds
1 cup spinach
1 cup strawberries or blueberries
1/4 cup chopped beet
1 cup coconut water
1 cup water
To those who say “I don’t like kale,” I ask “What do you have against butter and salt?” Eating kale need not be an exercise in self-restraint. It can be an amazing delivery system for these crave-worthy tastes. But what’s even better? Cooking your greens in butter actually makes them healthier. Here are 3 reasons to stop punishing yourself with steamed (or worse — raw!) greens and slather them in butter instead:
Kale, like its second-fiddle-but-just-as-awesome sidekicks collard greens and swiss chard, is rich in vitamin K and A. These vitamins — which we need to build our blood, immunity, skin health, tissue growth, and vision – are fat-soluble. By cooking your kale in some fat (I suggest butter, ghee, or olive oil for you vegans), you help draw these vitamins out of the kale and into your body, maximizing the super-food potential of the greens. Cool, right?
But wait, there’s more. Butter helps you detox. When you eat (grass-fed) butter, you signal to your liver and gallbladder to release bile necessary for digestion, and cue the liver to get rid of fat-soluble toxins: things like lead, mercury, pesticides, and extra estrogens you get from plastics; all of which can cause all kinds of health problems, from headaches and mood swings to cancer, if they’re allowed to stick around. The fiber from the kale helps to usher the fat-soluble toxins through the intestines and out of your body. Not-so-fun fact: without enough fiber, most bile, along with the toxins that were earmarked for elimination, is recycled back to the liver where it is used again. But this time it’s thicker and can’t do its job very well, so your digestion suffers, and instead of being eliminated, the toxins escape to the blood stream and linger in your fat cells. Not a great long-term solution – we want to kick the bad guys out, not put them under house arrest. Eating your butter-and-kale combo delivers a one-two punch to fat-soluble toxins.
Lastly, both the fiber in the kale and the fat in the butter help you feel satisfied and full longer, allowing you to eat less – clearly an excellent thing for maintaining a healthy weight, or weight loss.
Now if some part of you that was alive in the ‘80s is recoiling at the notion that butter is good for you: the experts got it wrong. The low-fat dogma that we were taught helped to create the dia-besity epidemic we’re currently facing, while depriving us of the yumminess that fat provides. The theory that saturated fat is bad for the heart has been shot down (check out this meta-study for details). Just as out-dated is the classification of LDL and HDL as “bad” and “good” cholesterol. The really scary cholesterol is the VLDL kind, which is related to the consumption of sugar and oils used in processed foods.
So stop unnecessarily punishing yourself by steaming your kale, or God forbid, eating it raw. Here’s how to enjoy Buttery Kale Superfood Goodness in under 10 minutes:
- Grab a bunch of kale. Strip the stems off. Rip it to shreds.
- Smash two cloves of garlic. Throw them into a medium saucepan along with 2 TB butter (or ghee, or olive oil) and 2 TB water. Smoosh it around.
- Cover and cook on medium-low until the kale surrenders its toughness.
- Sprinkle liberally with salt or gomasio (a tasty sesame seed and salt mixture).
- Savor the deliciousness.
Recently, one of my patients recommended I read Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D (Viking, New York, NY, 2009). I am very grateful for her recommendation, as it seems like the number of people I know, both personally and professionally who are dealing with this brutal disease — and the harsh treatment it so often necessitates — is way too high. And yet, there are many things we can do to make our bodies far less hospitable to cancer.
Written by an M.D. who was diagnosed with a brain tumor 15 years ago and was dissatisfied with his oncologist’s assessment that what he did wouldn’t have any affect on his health, this book is highly readable, peppered with interesting scientific studies, and very practical advice. He considers what makes the ecosystem that is each human body conducive to cancer’s growth? Turns out, food, chronic helplessness and other emotions, and toxins in the environment have a lot to do with it.
Some points I found particularly interesting:
The role of inflammation
Cancer can’t grow without supply lines: blood vessels to get it resources. Blood vessels don’t multiply for no reason — only when the body is in need of tissue repair. Cancer hijacks the body’s inflammation process to create the bloods vessel infrastructure it needs to support its rapid growth. Foods that increase inflammation (like sugar, fried stuff, and pretty much everything else in the Standard American Diet) act as cancer fertilizer, and foods that are anti-inflammatory cut off the supply lines.
The power of synergy
Turmeric, a the bright yellow-orange spice common in Indian cooking that adds color and flavor to curries, has long-been recognized by both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda as an anti-inflammatory herb. It has been shown not only to prevent tumor growth, but to force cancer cells to kill themselves. But when combined with black pepper or ginger, it becomes 2,000 percent more effective.
2-3 cups of green tea per day provides enough EGCG in the blood to settle on the surface of cells and prevents them from being invaded by cancers. It has been shown to even more effective when combined with soy in food form like tofu or miso (and not from concentrated soy isoflavones).
Studies where 2, 3, and 4 anti-cancer foods were combined together showed greater efficacy than administering only one of the anti-cancer foods. In Chinese Medicine, we combine herbs together for the same reason: the blend is more powerful than the individual parts.
Food as medicine
In Chinese Medicine, every time we eat is an opportunity to promote health, simply survive, or to contribute to a disease process. Servan-Schriber makes this point in the his chapter on “the anticancer foods,” as he outlines the healthful properties of berries, citrus, stone fruits, mushrooms, olive oil, leafy greens, colorful veggies, cruciferous vegetables, the mint family, garlic, dark chocolate, red wine, soy and many other wonderful foods. This chapter could easily be called the “anti-arthritis foods” or the “anti-heart disease foods,” as the recommendations are very similar with an edible cast of characters seen again and again as helpful for different diseases.
Breathing, meditation, yoga, qigong and other active relaxation practices produce coherent rhythms in the body, indicating adaptability and thus resistance to cancer and heart disease, increase the body’s ability to handle stress, and boost the immune system.
Women with breast cancer who could name 10 friends (location unimportant) had survival rates 4x higher than those who couldn’t, in a large-scale study of US nurses.
What I appreciated most about this book is its practicality in empowering people to take action: specifically, to eat a variety of whole foods, vegetables, fruits, and spices; reduce sugar and refined flour, animal fats, vegetable oils and other foods high in Omega-6s; deal with old emotions, stay connected to loved ones, and avoid toxins in everyday life whenever possible. This is completely in line with Chinese Medical theory that we are connected to our environment, that what we do and consume every day can move us towards or away from health, and that chronic emotions like loneliness and helplessness are just as much of risk factors for disease as cigarette smoking. I also love that someone else has compiled such excellent and digestible research that confirms what Chinese Medicine has known for thousands of years, with such great charts and graphs.
There’s lots of stuff I’m leaving out. I highly recommend reading the book. Or at the very least, eating a little turmeric with black pepper every day.
Grab my free ebook: 5 Biohacks to Reduce Stress.