Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Word on Nutrition

It seems my approaching 38th birthday has me facing my own mortality. I have this pervasive sense that the days ahead of me may well be fewer than the days behind me. Oh, I know I'm not that old yet! I'm not that healthy either! While my people tend to live long lives, I want to not only live a long life, but to live it fully to the end! So after a couple years of incessant worrying on the topic, I began studying last year. Studying what foods are healthiest for our bodies. Studying eating disorders and their roots. Studying the effects of exercise on the brain and body. Studying the effects of processed sugars, preservatives and pesticides on our bodies. And then, feeling only slightly informed, I began making changes.

First goal: increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to ten at least per day! My reason: fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense and calorie poor. Do you know that many obese people are chronicly malnurished? Yes, people who eat much much more than they need on a regular basis are malnourished! Why? Because they eat calorie-rich, nutrient-poor foods. I'm guilty of it! There's no way I could be so overweight if I were overeating only the world's healthiest foods.

Results so far of my first goal: I have sustained energy throughout the day and none of those huge slumps in the afternoons any longer. My skin is the clearest it's been in a few years. I visit the washroom more frequently. And....I have lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year. I am NOT on a diet. I have eaten cake, cupcakes, cookies, and other diet no-no's -- but I've still lost ten pounds! My goal is not weight loss. My goal is health. A side-effect of changing my long-standing bad habits will be weight loss. I expect it, but it's not my primary goal.

So, I knew that green leafy vegetables are among the best additions to a person's diet. They are among the most nutrient-rich foods on earth. This week, I made mashed potatoes with kale. Just off the top of my head, I knew that green leafies are high in b-vitamins (good for sustaining energy, needed when stressed as stress hormones leach b-vitamins from our bodies, and also good for nerve function and will affect pain symptoms as well as brain function) calcium and other nutrients. I did NOT know that green leafies are full of anti-cancer agents, and kale is among the best lung-health promoting foods in the world. Here is a very good article just about the health benefits of kale. Here is a breakdown of kale's nutritional components in one serving.

I am now eating 5 servings of green leafy vegetables a week or more! Spinach and kale, currently, but others will be added as the seasons change. Right now, the season is optimal for kale and spinach will soon be at its tastiest!


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