There’s something about the color green that just screams “healthy option!” This color has often been associated with natural, wholesome, organic choices, and with good reason. Although we need to take in a rainbow of colors for optimal health, “going green” is of significant importance. Why? Well, in a nutshell, green foods protect, alkalize, detox and energize!
Exposure to environmental toxins, dietary imbalances, inflammation and even normal metabolic processes introduce free radicals into our systems. Nelson states that “Free radicals are reactive compounds that when in contact with cells can damage or kill them.The concern lies in how many we produce and are exposed to, as well as how effectively our bodies can neutralize them. Unless kept in check …they can speed up the ageing process, disrupt immune function, and cause genetic mutations to cells.” Fortunately, we have a defense mechanism to fight back against free radicals. The job of neutralizing these harmful scavengers goes to antioxidants. Green foods are loaded with phytochemicals, which are plant compounds that act as antioxidants, and are shown to protect our cells and DNA from damage.
Physical and mental stress, medication, poor mineral absorption and an acid-forming diet have a great effect on our internal pH balance. Being too acidic leads to infection, inflammation, imbalances, decreased oxygen supply to cells, mineral depletion in our bones and tissues, toxic overload and has been linked to increased risk of multiple diseases. Green foods are alkalizing and can help counteract the acidic nature brought on by our behaviors and environment. It is suggested to aim to consume alkaline-forming foods 60-80% of the time in order to keep the body running smoothly.
Green foods have a powerful effect on ridding our bodies of toxins and purifying the blood. This is due to the fact that they contain chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants that provides energy for photosynthesis. This amazing substance is also known as “plant blood” as it is critical to its survival. Chlorophyll is known to cleanse key elimination systems such as the bowel, liver and blood and clear away toxic buildup such as heavy metals in the body. Chlorophyll has also been shown to deodorize, strengthen the immune system, fight inflammation, provide antioxidant support and oxygenate the blood!
Naturopath Claire Georgiou states that “greens have a cleansing and alkalizing effect on the blood which supports the natural detoxifying processes, maintains bone and tissue health, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.”
As a secondary effect to detoxing, alkalizing and protecting our cells, we indirectly gain energy from consuming greens as they supply oxygen to our cells and eliminate debris that bogs us down. However, we also receive energy from these foods due to the fact that they provide key nutrients who play an important role in metabolism and energy production. They are also a great source of fiber, which supports proper digestion, cholesterol levels and blood sugar stabilization, which play a huge role in overall physical and mental health.
TYPES & USES
Blue-Green/Green Algae: spirulina & chlorella
Green Vegetables (Leafy & Cruciferous): spinach, weed & root vegetable green leaves, kale, lettuces, chard, bok choy, arugula, broccoli, collard, green cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.
Superfood Grasses & Sprouts: wheat grass, barley, alfalfa, etc.
Incorporate fresh or frozen green foods into juices, dips, salads, sushi, soups, omelettes, smoothies, sauces, stir-fries and casseroles.
If you are concerned about not taking in your required daily intake or wanting to boost your nutrition further, powdered greens formulas are available that offer the nutritional equivalent of 6-8 servings of fresh vegetables in a single scoop. Green vegetable powders also exist in kid-friendly blends to easily increase a picky eater’s intake. Try “going green” and feel the difference!
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.