Rushed. That’s how women feel in the modern age. In a hurry to get the house cleaned, the shopping done, the kids to school, that presentation for work ready. No one expects more from us than we expect from ourselves. Trying to cram 30 hours of ToDos into each day means we are bound to cut corners. The corners we most often cut are those we need for our own health. We are accustomed to ‘sucking it up.’ Always planning for ‘when things settle down,’ we aren’t willing to accept that chaos is the new normal.
If you find yourself thinking you’ll wait until the kids are older before you get back to the gym, or feeling guilty about swinging through the drive-thru one more time, consider this: 80 percent of your immunity comes from you gut, and therefore, your diet. Your physical and mental performance is directly affected by what you eat. If you need more energy and brainpower, you’ve got to make your diet more of a priority.
The nutrients you need to run on ‘optimum’
Everyone, including women, need to eat nutrient-rich foods to maintain their health. One area in your budget you should probably try to increase is your food budget. We all spend money on our health. It is a toxic, crowded world and there is no escape from that expense. You can choose if you spend less money on food and more on medicine, or more on better food and supplements and less on medicine. With the latter, you’ll have a better quality of life, but it does take more time and effort.
The nutrients we need our food to be rich in include:
• Protein for muscle and strength
• Iron for our blood
• Folic acid for the formation of both red and white blood cells
• Chromium for healthy blood sugar
• Calcium for bones and teeth
• Magnesium for many things including healthy organs
• Vitamin D for heart and bone health
• Vitamin C for immunity and antioxidants
• B vitamins for adrenal health and to fight stress
• Enzymes for digestion and nutrient absorption
• Fiber to get the most out of your food and help fight disease
• Essential fatty acids to nourish your brain and vascular system
• Lots of good, clean water
Superfoods provide optimum nutrition
The best way to get all of these nutrients every day is to incorporate foods into your diet that will do double duty. Superfoods usually provide more than just a few vitamins and minerals. They nourish your body with essential vitamins and minerals, while also helping to fight disease, providing you with balanced health.
The top 10 superfoods for women:
1. Dark green leafy vegetables. This is what humans were designed to eat as the main portion of our diet, and what Americans don’t get enough of – things like kale and Swiss chard. The nutrients are too numerous to list, but include lots of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, powerful phytochemicals, and more that will ensure optimum functioning for your body. This is where you’ll get your folic acid, hormone support, liver support, disease prevention, proper pH, and even some iron and protein. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts are invaluable as well.
2. Lean meat, beans, and legumes. You must have a clean, healthy source of protein and iron. Grass-fed beef or lamb are good choices, as are many beans and lentils. Low in fat, high in fiber beans are very nutritious and a staple in vegetarian diets. Garbanzo beans, red kidney beans, black beans; easy to cook, inexpensive, versatile.
3. Whole grains. Important for fiber and energy, carbohydrates are downright dangerous to your health when they are over-processed and from GMO sources. Whole wheat does not mean whole grain. Consider some of the less used (and processed) ancient grains such as quinoa, spelt, and amaranth.
4. Fresh organic fruit. Full of flavonoids, antioxidants, enzymes, fiber (eat the peel!), and vitamins, fruit is the ‘sweets’ you were designed to eat (not sugar). On the superfood list: blueberries, goji berries, cranberries, cherries, kiwis, etc.
5. Nuts and seeds. EFAs, ALAs, fiber, good fats, these superfoods are disease fighters. Chia seeds and flax seeds (and meal) have lignans that fight breast cancer by inhibiting the growth and development of tumors. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and other nuts provide healthy fats necessary for everything from a healthy heart to healthy joints.
6. Avocado. Full of healthy fats, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, avocados will lower triglycerides, nourish your brain, and prevent wrinkles. One of the best anti-aging foods you can consume, avocados are versatile – add to a smoothie, spread on a sandwich, or top a wrap with slices.
7. Fish. The essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in fish such as wild-caught salmon and sardines are essential to your health. They are also a good source of low-fat protein. If you are concerned about the health of our oceans, you can get your EFAs from things like flax and walnuts.
8. Chocolate. That’s right. If you stick to this list, you’ll need a reward. Why not some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate? A good-for-you treat, a little goes a long way and will help satisfy your sweet tooth.
9. Spice it up. Cooking at home allows you control over the ingredients you consume, and the opportunity to make your food extra nutritious by adding some time-honored flavorings known for their health benefits. Cook with garlic, onion, mushrooms, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, and others. All have wonderful flavors and immune-boosting properties.
10. Spirulina and chlorella. Not necessarily easy to eat, these amazing superfoods are worth their weight in gold to your health. Add to smoothies or take as a supplement to fight and prevent disease and maintain optimum health. For more information, check out the links below.
Ask yourself before you eat if the food you are looking at is nutrient-rich or nutrient-poor, and eat accordingly. Try to eat at least eight different colored foods each day. Raw foods are the only way to get enzymes, which are the key to good digestion and fewer allergies. You must grow your own food or buy organic food to get enzymes, or take supplements, as all other foods are irradiated which kills them. You also need probiotics for good gut health. Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut or yogurt, especially after taking pharmaceutical antibiotics. Make and take your food rather than eating out; that’s the best way to know what you’re getting and to avoid the time crunch that ends up with you at the drive-thru window. Don’t forget to address underlying emotional issues because they will affect your health in the long-run. Lastly, do invest some time in top quality whole-food based vitamins and supplements for those days when you don’t get enough superfoods.
Sources for this article include: