Some of the Healthiest Foods on Earth
We all have a good idea as to what we should and shouldn’t eat. We’ve also been taught that a well-balanced diet is the key to a longer, healthier life.
But, what are the healthiest foods of them all?
It should come as no surprise that kale is amongst the healthiest foods available to us. Not only is it loaded with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants but kale provides our body with the natural fiber needed for optimum health.
Health Tip: Kale can be rather bitter so if you find yourself struggling to eat enough, consider putting it into soups or stews. Chances are you won’t even notice it!
Next up is garlic. Garlic is found in nearly every cuisine in the world. Early civilizations recognized that it helped fight off infections.
This is a food that we find in many of our favorite dishes, including sauces, roasts and stews and it’s no wonder: not only does it add incredible flavor to our dishes, but it’s loaded with Vitamins C, B1 and B6.
Then we have seaweed. This is an extraordinarily nutritious food, but it’s not one that many of us consume on a regular basis so we’ll have to look for ways to incorporate it into our diet. It’s worth the effort though because seaweed is loaded with minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and manganese, some of which aren’t found in other fruits and vegetables.
Seaweed is also notorious for reducing inflammation because of its high levels of antioxidants!
Then we have shellfish. If you’re looking to improve your overall health you’ll want to start incorporating shellfish such as clams, crab, lobster or oysters into your diet because they’re known as some of the best sources for vitamin B12 which impacts our energy levels and overall mood.
Special Note: They’re also high in zinc, copper and Vitamin D, especially oysters so consider including them in your next meal!
Salmon is low in fat and calories but very high in protein which will make you feel fuller faster, helping you avoid over-eating.
Salmon is also known for its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which have been proven to boost brain activity, improve focus and energy levels.
And even more impressively, salmon has been proven to prevent the onset of serious diseases because of its high levels of magnesium, potassium and selenium, important minerals that our body needs but never seems to get enough of.
And finally, we have blueberries. Not only are they loaded with antioxidants but they are high in phytochemicals which are linked to better brain function, such as improved focus and memory.
The truth is, all berries are considered to include the category of the world’s healthiest foods.
You Are What You Eat
You’ve likely heard the saying, you are what you eat, and when it comes to living the healthiest you possible, no truer words have ever been spoken.
Quite simply, a healthy life begins with the foods you eat. What you put into your system ultimately dictates how you look and feel.
Makes sense, right?
A diet that consists of high-sugar foods, for example, isn’t designed to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Those kinds of foods will rob you of energy and leave you feeling lifeless and bloated, not to mention the havoc it wreaks on your blood sugar levels and puts you at risk of many illnesses.
Start by thinking about how you feel after you eat certain foods.
Do you feel sick? Do you feel bloated? Are you tired? Run down?
Paying attention to the way foods make you feel is key in changing your diet so that it supports a stronger, healthier body.
Few of us analyze the way foods change the way we feel or affect our moods, but when we start to pay close attention, we discover just how easy it is to boost energy levels, improve our ability to focus and simply feel at our best just by eliminating these harmful foods from our diet.
Health Tip: Consider creating a food diary or journal that documents the foods you eat. Start writing everything down for 30 days. After each meal, write down what foods you ate, portion size and how you are feeling.
Keeping track of how you are fueling your body, as well as how those foods are influencing how you feel both physically and mentally, is the first step towards identifying food-toxins so you can set yourself on a better, healthier path by eliminating them from your life.
Some of these foods may be obvious ones that you know are unhealthy while others may come as a surprise. Therefore, it’s important to create a logbook of 30 days (minimum) so you not only have a detailed snapshot of how the foods you’re eating may be impacting your health, but over the course of a month, you’ll begin to develop a habit of considering healthier choices.
A food journal should also include a total calorie count so that you can reflect on the kinds of foods that are likely the leading cause of any weight-struggles you may have.
There are plenty of immune-boosting liquids that you should consider including in your daily diet. Some of them may be familiar, like Grandma’s chicken soup or Auntie’s ginseng tea. Others may surprise you. Try one or more of these to give your immune system a jump-start.
A hot bowl of homemade soup really does help you feel better and might even help you get well sooner. Homemade soup also contains a chemical called carnosine that might protect your body from the influenza virus. It has anti-inflammatory properties that soothes your nasal cavities and upper respiratory tract.
If you don’t have time to make your own, stock up on pre-packaged soup.
Ginseng tea has been used for some time as a treatment for upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold. A review showed that ginseng helped reduce the symptoms of cold and flu, but also noted that we need further research to prove that it does boost the immune system.
Pomegranate juice is another immune booster. So far, most research has focused on the extract of the fruit, but juice is looking more and more promising. It might help your body resist bacteria and several different kinds of viruses (including the flu).
Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to boost your body’s immunity. One study showed that its high-polyunsaturated fats produce anti-inflammatory effects that help boost the immune system and help fight off disease and infection.
Green tea is great for fighting off a cold virus. It contains antioxidants called flavonoids, that boost immunity and have anti-inflammatory effects. One study found that catechin, one of the flavonoids, is a powerful antiviral and antibacterial chemical that can kill off disease-causing bacteria and viruses like the cold or flu.
Bone broth may actually be the reason that chicken soup is so good for you. The broth has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps boost your immune system’s ability to fight off disease and infection.
Anise tea is another immune boosting liquid. One review showed that this plant acts as an antiviral and antifungal, as well as having anti-inflammatory effects that boost your immunity.
You probably wouldn’t think of spices when you think of boosting your immune system, however many of them have anti-inflammatory effects that help your body recover far more quickly from an infection and may even prevent you from catching it in the first place.
These immune boosting properties may come from a sulfur-based chemical called allicin, which is the “main ingredient” in garlic (the sulfur is what gives it that distinctive smell).
Allicin is unstable, so as soon as you crush the garlic, it begins changing into other chemicals that have medicinal properties.
These have been shown to improve the disease-fighting abilities of some of your white blood cells. Garlic may also slow down hardening of the arteries, and there’s some evidence it may help lower blood pressure.
Ginger can give your Asian food a great kick, and it makes a mean tea. Ginger ale is good for nausea, too.
However, did you know it’s a good source of immune-boosting antioxidants?
As with garlic, you need to use the actual root and not a supplement.
Antioxidants work best when you get them right from the fruits and veggies that make them.
Researchers have found ginger has potent anti-inflammatory properties that help you combat a cold or flu and boost your immune system, as well as antimicrobial properties to fight off infection.
Curcumin also gives this spice it’s bright yellow color, in case you were wondering.
Rosemary is more than just a tasty herb. It’s packed with antioxidants and is also a powerful anti-inflammatory.
One study found that most herbs contain antioxidants that help keep your immune system healthier. Rosemary’s anti-inflammatory effect also helps boost your immunity to infections.
Fennel has a variety of effects that soothe your flu-like symptoms. It contains phytochemicals that act as antioxidants, and one study showed it soothed conditions like conjunctivitis, fever, stomachache, and diarrhea. Fennel also has anti-inflammatory flavonoids that help boost your immune system.
Astralagus root is a Chinese herb long used in medicine to boost the immune system. Animal studies suggests it can regulate the immune system as well.
Immune Boosting Recipe: You can make immune-boosting bitters by combining 1 ounce dried astralagus root, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 ounce dried angelica root, ½ ounce dried chamomile, 1 teaspoon dried ginger, 1 teaspoon dried orange peel, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, and 10 ounces of vodka (100 proof).
First, dissolve the honey in 2 teaspoons of boiling water and allow it to cool. Combine the honey and dried ingredients in a large Mason jar and add alcohol. Seal tightly and story your bitters in a cool, dark place.
Once a day, shake the jar firmly. Allow to steep for two to four weeks until the desired strength is reached, then strain the bitters through a muslin cheesecloth or coffee filter.
Store the strained bitters at room temperature in a sealed container.
A healthy diet contains a good portion of fruit and veggies, after all. However, many fruits contain chemicals that actually boost your immune system and help you fight off infection.
You’ve probably heard of elderberries and their connection to colds and flu. Elderberry extract (syrup, gummies, etc.) has been shown to reduce the time you suffer from a cold, but that’s not really boosting your immunity, is it?
There are a few studies that seem to indicate elderberry might help prevent you from catching the flu (not a cold though) if you take it daily. We need more scientific studies, but it looks promising.
Acai berries are loaded with antioxidants, which have been proven to improve your health. We don’t know for certain if they boost your immunity, but they do help your overall condition, so it’s likely. Enjoy the juice or make a berry smoothie. You can also eat the dried berries in a nice trail mix.
Watermelon as an immune booster?
Yes, indeed. This fruit contains a powerful antioxidant called glutathione, which strengthens your immune system. To get the most antioxidant, eat the red part right next to the rind.
Papaya is another fruit that’s packed with Vitamin C, with one medium fruit providing twice the daily recommended amount of the vitamin.
The fruit also contains a digestive enzyme called papain, which has anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, they contain potassium, magnesium, and folate, all of which help keep your healthier.
Of course, everyone knows that citrus fruits are full of Vitamin C.
Fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit can help prevent you from catching a cold. Vitamin C can also reduce the length of time and severity of the cold symptoms.
The daily recommend amount of Vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men. Try not to get more than 2,000 milligrams in one day though.
Greens are a very healthy part of a complete diet. Whether you make a salad or cook them lightly in a pan, these vegetables can help improve your immunity and help fight off colds and flu.
Spinach has been called a “superfood.” It contains folate, which helps your body make new DNA and repair your cells. It also has lots of healthy fiber and antioxidants like Vitamin C.
Spinach also contains flavonoids, carotenoids, and Vitamin E, all of which help boost your immune system and keep you healthier. Eat it raw in a salad or lightly cooked for the best benefit.
Broccoli is another basic immune booster like spinach. It contains Vitamin A and C, and the antioxidant glutathione. These boost your immunity and improve your health. Cruciferous veggies also contain sulforaphane, a chemical that activates antioxidant genes and enzymes in your immune cells.
Try it alone, maybe with a little cheese topping, or mixed with nearly any other food.
Kale, like all green vegetables, provides anti-inflammatory antioxidants as well as important nutrients that are known to boost the immune system, like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and folate.
Sauté in extra virgin olive oil with a little garlic, turmeric, and black pepper—or chop into a salad. You can even add greens to your smoothies.
Turmeric is more than just a delicious spice. It contains a powerful anti-inflammatory chemical called curcumin. This stimulates your body to make T-Cells, the main fighting cells of your immune system. Turmeric has also been suggested to be a moderator of your immune system.
Turmeric is nicknamed the Golden Spice and not just for its rich golden color. Turmeric studies are ongoing, but its health benefits seem to be growing by the day. This spice is found in many different curries and is harvested in India and Indonesia.
It’s nothing new. Turmeric has been part of traditional medicine for centuries!
At the base of the healing properties of turmeric, it has been found to block the protein that causes inflammation. Because of these blocking abilities, turmeric has been found to ease the pain of inflammation just as well as some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NASAIDs.
And it’s all natural, which makes it even better.
The chemical in turmeric that does all the heavy lifting is called curcumin, and is the secret to its anti-inflammatory abilities.
While inflammation does play an important role in our bodies, blocking pathogens that could easily kill us, long term chronic inflammation like that observed in arthritis sufferers can be debilitating.
Inflammation is a complex process, but the curcumin in turmeric is an inflammation fighting bioactive substance that attacks the chronic inflammation on a molecular level.
On top of helping with your arthritic pain, curcumin has been shown to fight inflammation that also plays a major role in heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other conditions.
Turmeric can be taken in many ways from pills to milk to the actual root. Turmeric Milk
The positive effects of Turmeric are utilized across the world, and there is a reason for that. The Asian spice contains an abundance of antioxidants that help to reduce inflammation and ease arthritic pain.
Turmeric is available at just about any grocery store in the spice section. To make the milk, simply pour ½ teaspoon of Turmeric into a glass of warm milk. Sweeten to taste or drink as is. If dairy milk increases inflammation for you, try adding the spice to warm almond milk instead.
It is best to drink this at night before bed, to allow the antioxidants to work in your body as it rests.
Why not add it to your favorite dish? On its own, turmeric has a very mild taste and can compliment almost any meal.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids have made the headlines in natural health for some time now, and for good reason. They are essential to a healthy and strong body. Omega-3 are good fats, ones you find mostly in plants and marine life. There are two main types of Omega-3’s that are most commonly found in oily fish.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)– EPA is the most well-known of the Omega-3’s. It is a name arthritis sufferers want to remember. EPA not only helps to breakdown and synthesize those chemicals responsible for blood-clotting but it also helps dramatically with inflammation.
But where does EPA come from?
The simple answer to this is fish. Fish oil contains an abundance of EPA. The fish get this important Omega-3 from the algae that they eat. EPA fish oil is available in a variety of ways, but is easiest consumed through capsules sold at your local grocer or health food store.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)– DHA is another important Omega-3. DHA is a natural fatty acid abundant in the human body. It makes up the key parts of the retina in the eye, and part of the brain, the cerebral cortex.
The Cerebral Cortex, or grey matter, is responsible for intelligence, personality, motor function, organization, touch, sensory information processing, and language. These things are vital to your everyday existence and can play a huge part in pain management.
You can find Omega-3’s in a variety of food, not just fish oil. These foods include nuts, cold-water fish like salmon and tuna, seeds, and other supplements.
In a 2015 study on the role of Omega-3’s on inflammatory diseases, it is found that they can reduce symptoms of Rheumatoid and other arthritis symptoms.
Regardless of their pain management abilities, Omega-3 fatty acids should be a regular addition to your healthy and active lifestyle. Check with your physician to see which form of Omega-3’s best fit your lifestyle.
Here’s another food group that you may not consider when thinking about your immune system, however many seeds and nuts can help keep your immune system healthy.
Whole grain breads contain anti-inflammatory chemicals that can help boost your immunity. They also help increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut, which is another way to keep your immunity high. 70% of your immune system cells live in your gut, so keeping it healthier helps you resist colds and flu.
Most nuts contain lots of Vitamin E, which has been shown to help fight off illness.
One study showed that taking 50 milligrams of this vitamin daily helped reduce the chances of catching a cold by 28% in a group of men 65 years old and up who also smoked. Researchers say we need more studies to prove that Vitamin E is responsible for this decreased risk, but it does look quite promising.
Sunflower seeds are loaded with Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. This helps protect the immune system from those damaging free radicals that may contribute to disease.
They also contain selenium, which may help fight infection. Just an ounce of seeds has nearly half the recommended daily amount of this important mineral.
Chia seeds are a great source of zinc, which we’ve already talked about.
Just 2 tablespoons provides nearly 12% of your daily zinc requirement!
Health Tip: Add that to your favorite smoothie or make a great-tasting non-smoothie drink. Combine 1 cup of water with 3 tablespoons of chia seeds in a tall glass. Cover it and let it steep for 15-20 minutes inside your fridge. The seeds will swell up and release a gel-like substance. Thin the solution with 1 cup of your favorite no-sugar fruit juice (check the label). The best choices are 100% pomegranate or cherry juice. Stir well and enjoy.
Brazil nuts contain an immune boosting mineral called selenium. Selenium deficiency has been shown to delay your immune response, so you want to be sure you’re getting enough of it in your diet.
One ounce of Brazil nuts (six to eight nuts) will provide you with almost 1,000% of the daily recommended amount of selenium. Eat them as is, or chop and add to a salad or oatmeal.
Walnuts have anti-inflammatory effects but they also contain several nutrients that support your immune system, like Vitamin E, B6, folate, and copper. In addition, studies also show that walnuts reduce psychological stress, and we all know that stress lowers your immune response.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of foods you can eat (and drink) to boost your body’s natural defenses.
Consider how you can begin to incorporate some of these foods into your diet and strengthen your immune system for a longer, healthier life.
To your health,
Adrian T Brown