Wednesday, June 4, 2014

5 Superfoods for Health

When I was in my twenties, I was far from healthy. I went tanning, I smoked, I went out drinking way too often and my idea of a good diet included not eating and just substituting coffee and more cigarettes for meals. Then I had a wake up call in the form of a lump. I went in for my allergy check-up and my doctor felt something that she "didn't like". Next thing I knew, I was going through a myriad of tests, including a second biopsy after the first one came back unclear. Talk about scary!!

This was the turning point for my life and I made some major changes for my health. I had to.

Fast forward to now. Most importantly, I quit smoking! I continue to struggle with my weight, however I now am a member of Weight Watchers, which is a VERY healthy way to drop the pounds. I have ran two marathons and a half a dozen half marathons. I am not the picture of health, but it is an active daily effort! There are 5 foods that I have added to my every day eating to maintain health. Since I have added these items, I have noticed that I feel better. I have more energy. My thyroid meds have even been decreased...and I think my healthy diet played a role!

What are these 5 things?!?

Apple Cider Vinegar

I make a drink with raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar most mornings. I mix half a tablespoon of the vinegar with half a tablespoon of honey and a bit of warm water just to mix it well. Once the honey is dissolved into the warm water I add about a cup of cold water to it and drink it up. The water is needed to dilute it enough that it won't harm the enamel on your teeth. It isn't the most tasty thing in the world, but there are so many health benefits to it! ACV is alkaline and it balances your pH, which can help with food absorption and has even been linked to preventing cancer. It has antifungal and antibacterial qualities to it, which can help balance your natural flora in your gut. Apple cider vinegar "juice" has been something that I grew up on. My father used it as a cure all for everything while I was growing up. I remember him saying that it was good for joint function, turns out that is just one of the numerous things that I have read that ACV helps!
Coconut Oil
 Coconut oil is quite possibly my favorite on the list. I eat coconut oil every day!! I usually spread onto my wheat toast and cook with it instead of butter. Don't be scared of the flavor...I don't even like coconut and I love the taste! I have also made popcorn with it and have drizzled it ON my popcorn. You can also mix it with melted chocolate chips to make your very own magic shell ice cream topping! I have read that the recommended amount of coconut oil should be about 3 tablespoons for somebody my size, however I cannot use all of my points on oil. I usually just use about 1/2 or 1 table spoon a day and even with that amount I have seen the benefit. It is good for energy and thyroid function, which is why I started eating it. I have since gotten my synthetic thyroid meds lowered! It is also antibacterial and antifungal, so once helps the tummy feel better! Coconut oil is a saturated fat and was once thought to be bad for you, however further research showed that the medium chain fatty acids in it are beneficial to your healthy cholesterol levels. The same fatty acids are also known to help prevent and slow Alzheimer's and epilepsy! Super food indeed!

Chia Seeds

Yes, they are the same Chia seeds that were once found inside of a clay Homer Simpson to give him a lovely green head of hair. Cha Cha Cha Chia! They are now what I use to keep my daily fiber intake up and to get more Omega 3's in my diet! I sprinkle it on top of my eggs in the morning, or salad for lunch and I mix it with my yogurt. Chia seeds are rich in protein and antioxidants...these little guys pack a powerful punch! The word Chia itself means "strength" and the Aztec and Mayan empires thrived on them. They are well known in the running community as a great energy source for long distance races and some ultra athletes have been know to race 100 miles with them as fuel! I always think of that when I eat them. I need enough energy to get me through the day...a teaspoon should do the trick ;)

Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek Yogurt has less lactose and twice as much protein as regular yogurt, which means it is easier on the stomach and keeps you full longer! Plain Greek yogurt is so versatile. It can be used in place of sour cream or as a base for a frozen yogurt treat. My favorite way to eat my Greek yogurt is as a midday snack with honey, Chia seeds, PB2 and a small amount of mini chocolate morsels. YUM! It is my favorite treat of the day! Even the sweetened versions of Greek yogurt are lower in carbs than traditional yogurts, which is a bonus when I track my WW points. It also has 50% less sodium than traditional yogurts. Seeing the trend here? Less "stuff" and more GOOD!

Raw Local Honey

This one is quite important to me and my see we are riddled with seasonal allergies. My poor kids get it from both sides of the family! Eating raw local honey is a form of immunotherapy. What's that? Do you remember every knowing somebody who went to the doctor to get shots of allergens to help their allergies? It is the same idea. You ingest small amounts of what you are allergic to and then your body knows how to fight it off! It is important to get honey that is made as close to your house as possible. The bees will be pollinating off of the same types of flowers that are in your area which is great news for your sniffly nose. Raw honey is just that...untreated and unpasteurized. There has been some disputes about raw honey being solid or liquid. I asked a local bee keeper and he said that all honey is liquid when it is fresh and just poured into the jar. It has to be liquid to pour it! True raw honey turns solid faster than treated honey. If it is fresh and raw you can expect it to be liquid. There has also been some speculation that some of the online companies selling raw honey have added crystal sugars to the honey to make it go solid faster. I don't really know about the online companies...I always buy local. The local bit is key! I eat honey every day on my yogurt and in my ACV drink. I have REALLY noticed a difference in my allergies since I've started and *knock on wood* I haven't had a major sinus infection in a long time as a result!

Well, there you have it. Some, maybe all, of these products have been said to help with weight loss. I don't have any idea if that is true. What I do know, is that I feel great and have more energy as a result of them. Weight loss at this point is an added bonus to feeling good!! If you haven't tried these products, I encourage you to. I truly feel that they are SUPER!! :)

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