Go Green - green foods may be the SWAT team that sets you free...
|Go Green - green foods may be the SWAT team that sets you free...||Darrell Miller||06/12/05|
June 12, 2005 05:27 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (email@example.com)
Subject: Go Green - green foods may be the SWAT team that sets you free...
Go Green by Chrystle Fiedler Energy Times, December 4, 2003
If you feel like your busy life is holding your health hostage, green foods may be the SWAT team that sets you free. "Green foods are worth a king's ransom as far as your health is concerned," says Betty Kamen, PhD, author of Betty Kamen's 1,001 Health Secrets (Nutrition Encounter). "Green foods capture solar energy, using it to produce chlorophyll, which gives it its distinctive green color. Since we obtain our food by eating these plants or by eating the animals that eat these plants, this process is the source of human life."
"Green foods are renewal foods," says Ryan Bradley, ND, of the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in Kenmore, Washington. "They help to counteract the nutrient depletion caused by stress and by caffeine intake. They're nutrient dense, grounding, balancing, and soothing in their energetic nature."
Ideally, your meals should supply you with greens, but "...99.9% of the population doesn't get three to five [daily] servings of leafy green vegetables like kale, collard greens and spinach," says Jordan Rubin, NMD, PhD, CNC, author of Patient Heal Thyself (Freedom Press). Green foods can bridge that gap.
"Green foods have become popular because it's a convenient way to get your servings," says Dr. Rubin. "You get the equivalent of two large salads with one serving of powdered green food. It's nutrient dense and low calorie so it's a great addition to any diet. It satisfies the brain so you don't feel hungry."
"Everyone can benefit from green food supplementation," adds Dr. Kamen. "It's a concentrated supplier of everything that's good about vegetables."
Chlorophyll for Health
The key ingredient of green foods is chlorophyll, the green blood of plants. The benefits for humans from chlorophyll can be profound. A study of individuals at high risk of developing liver cancer because of their exposure to environmental toxins showed a 55% reduction in noxious compounds when these people supplemented their diets with a semi-synthetic chlorophyll derivative with properties similar to those of chlorophyll (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2001 Dec 4; 98(25):14601-6).
"This research supports the long-standing notion that chlorophyll, and green foods, can play a role in detoxification in the liver, and thus 'cleansing' the blood," says Dr. Bradley. "It's a good addition to any detox protocol. Test tube evidence also suggests that chlorophyll inhibits mutations in human cells."
Chlorophyll is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. It can help fight anemia, improve digestion and elimination, and act as a mild diuretic. It also helps friendly bacteria in the gut reproduce and thereby possibly boost immunity.
Green, Green Grasses
Fast-growing plants, such as wheat and barley cereal grasses, contain the most chlorophyll and the deepest green color.
"Wheat grass was one of the country's first multi-vitamins," says Dr. Rubin, who is also the author of Restoring Your Digestive Health (Twin Streams Health). "Certified organic cereal grasses pull a vast number of nutrients from the soil."
"The solar-powered factory in the leaves of the young grass plants is almost beyond comprehension," says Dr. Kamen. "Sprouted grains have exceptional nutritive value and high amounts of certain vitamins and minerals."
The blue-green microalgae spirulina is a chlorophyll powerhouse.
"Spirulina is high in protein, up to 65%, and the blue pigment of this blue-green algae, phycocyanin, has antioxidant, antiviral and antifungal properties," says Dr. Rubin.
Like other greens, spirulina can help you cut calories. "When you nourish the body and the brain with nutrient-dense and low-caloric food, it satisfies that impulse to keep eating." Spirulina is also high in B vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, all commonly depleted nutrients. B vitamins are critical players in overall metabolism, and are vital to nerve and adrenal function.
Spirulina contains the minerals potassium and magnesium, plus iron. "It's been scientifically validated that [spirulina's iron is] comparable to the absorption from an egg," says Dr. Bradley. "It may benefit patients that are anemic. It's also a great choice for vegans who are looking for plant sources of iron."
In addition, the spirulina compounds called phycocyanins may control inflammation and lower the risk of cancer.
"Spirulina stimulates the part of the immune system [natural killer cells] responsible for our ability to fight off viruses and survey our tissues internally and detect and kill cancerous tissue," says Dr. Bradley.
Like spirulina, chlorella stimulates your natural killer cells to fight bacteria and viruses, and to strengthen your defenses.
"Chlorella is the richest food on the planet in chlorophyll," says Dr. Kamen. "It's also high in protein and rich in beta-carotene and minerals.
"One of the truly amazing facts about chlorella is its ability to oxygenate the blood," Dr. Kamen continues. "If your blood doesn't have enough oxygen, you can become listless and lethargic. Chlorella actually increases your hemoglobin, the oxygen transporter in your blood, so there is more oxygen present. It provides the necessary fuel for making healthy cells, and the result is renewed energy and vitality."
Both spirulina and chorella also contain omega-6 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory benefits and can improve the behavior of your blood vessels. In addition, they provide vitamin B12.
Green Foods from the Sea
Seaweed and other sea vegetables like kelp offer a green foods bonanza. Seaweed is low in calories but, like spirulina, offers a wealth of nutrients.
"Most seaweed provides a rich supply of many essential nutrients, including protein, calcium, iodine and zinc," says Bradley Willcox, MD, co-author of The Okinawa Program (Potter). "Iodine is essential to the function of the thyroid gland, which needs it to make hormones that regulate your body's metabolism. Lignans, the cancer-fighting phytoestrogens have been found in high quantities in seaweed, mostly kelp, which could conceivably provide some protection against certain types of cancers."
Lower rates of breast cancer were reported in Japanese patients eating a diet high in kelp (Nutr Cancer 1983; 4:217-22). Kelp has also been shown to reduce DNA damage induced by several known carcinogens (Mutat Res 1993; 303:63-70).
Sea greens contain omega-3 fatty acids, fats that boost heart health. "Sea vegetables may prove to be a more sustainable source of omega-3 fatty acids than the dwindling fish populations," says Dr. Bradley.
To incorporate sea greens into your diet, start by putting them on your lettuce and tomatoes.
"Sea vegetables can make a great addition to salads," says Dr. Bradley. "They're high in nutrition and add flavor because of the sodium. They also add texture, giving salads more crunch."
Other ways to green up your diet:
* "Kelp comes packaged in three-foot-long dried strips and is prepared by cutting the long strips into smaller two- to three-inch strips and boiling them for about ten minutes. You remove the kelp, and then you can use the broth in soups, salads and other dishes. Kelp simmered with vegetables or tofu and served in miso soup is an Okinawan favorite," says Dr. Willcox.
* Wakame (one of Dr. Willcox's favorites), a type of kelp, has a taste and appearance that may remind Westerners of spinach lasagna.
* Nori seaweed can be used to wrap sushi and rice balls and also to season salads, soups and noodles.
"Seaweed tastes great and if used wisely, should not tip you into sodium overload," says Dr. Willcox.
Go for the Green
More and more people are realizing and enjoying the benefits of green foods. Dr. Bradley recommends keeping your green foods consumption simple. Add powdered greens, dried tablets and liquids to juice, mix them into smoothies or a protein shake, and sprinkle the powder on salads. Mixed in water, greens can be used as a morning tonic and help replace some of the nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins depleted by coffee and other caffeinated beverages, which act as diuretics.
"Incorporate a green drink into your diet once or twice a day," says Dr. Bradley. "It's the least expensive (health) insurance policy you can have."