I realise “superfood” carries a certain hype, but some foods do earn that status. Food is medicine, and some foods are more powerful medicines than others. Food is the most powerful tool to create optimal health. Food is the first and most powerful drug in my arsenal to treat patients. These five super foods are examples of foods that you should incorporate into your eating plan for optimal health and wellness.
Super food #1: Seeds
My three favourite seeds are chia, hemp, and flax seeds. You can add all three super seeds to smoothies, puddings, or on top of coconut yogurt with berries. Let’s look at their benefits.
Chia Seeds: Provide an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that have numerous benefits, including glowing skin and mental clarity. Just one ounce of chia seeds packs a whopping 10 grams of fibre. Its insoluble fibre acts as a prebiotic that feeds friendly gut bacteria and ferments into short-chain fatty acids to support gut health. Chia seeds also contain more protein than most plant foods. And they contain more calcium than milk.
Hemp Seeds: Provide healthy omega-3 fats, protein, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Flax seeds: Another great source of omega-3 fats, dietary fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals. Flax seeds have powerful, anti-cancer, hormone-balancing phytonutrients called lignans. Freshly ground flax seed sprinkled into a smoothie is an excellent way to ease constipation.
Super food #2: MCT Oil
Medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs are a special type of fatty acid derived from coconut oil. You can get them in coconut oil or as a stand-alone oil. I’ve written about how studies show MCT oil can help with weight loss, cognitive ability, and much more. This super fuel becomes an instant-energy source because MCTs get rapidly burned and metabolised very efficiently, absorbing directly into the gut and then liver, so MCTs don’t get stored as fat.
You can add MCT oil to smoothies, coffee, or veggies. MCTs also provide powerful antioxidant support to strengthen the immune system. Animal studies show MCTs also benefit liver and gut function.
Super food #3: Glucomannan
Fibreis vital for so many reasons, including feeding friendly gut bacteria. Studies show fibre can prevent obesity, reduce risk for chronic diseases, and decrease ageing. That’s because fibre slows the rate food enters your bloodstream and increases the speed of food exiting through the digestive tract.
Dietary fibre also helps balance blood sugar and cholesterol levels, aids in quick release of toxins from your gut and curbs your appetite. Glucomannan is a soluble, fermentable, and highly viscous dietary fibre from the root of the elephant yam, also known as konjac. The konjac tuber has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy and to make traditional foods like konjac jelly, tofu, and noodles. You can find glucomannan as a supplement called PGX. It mixes easily into water for an easy, effective fibre source.
Super food #4: Mushrooms
While visiting China, I discovered folks there knew more about food’s medicinal properties than I did even after many years of research. Medicinal foods are a part of their everyday diet, and mushrooms play a huge role within Chinese medicine. Reishi, shiitake and cordyceps contain powerful healing properties that boost your immune system and support healthy hormone production. Mushrooms are anti-viral and anti-inflammatory to support healthy liver function, optimised cholesterol levels and anti-cancer benefits. I use them often: I make a reishi tea, cook with shiitake mushrooms and make mushroom soup.
Super food #5: Plant Foods
The vast, colourful array of vegetables represents over 25,000 beneficial chemicals. Research shows the synergistic balance of these chemicals provides numerous health benefits. I recommend a diverse diet with numerous colourful whole foods.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate well over 800 varieties of plant foods. Today, we don’t consume anywhere near this amount. Make that extra effort to include as many varieties of these colourful super foods as you can. Eat from the rainbow: Every fruit and vegetable colour represents a different family of healing compounds. Red foods (like tomatoes) contain the carotenoid lycopene, which helps eliminate free radicals that damage our genes. Green foods contain the chemicals sulforaphane and isocyanate, as well as indoles that inhibit carcinogens to protect against cancer. Simply put: The more colour you incorporate, the more health benefits you’ll receive.
The tremendous power at the end of our forks becomes far more powerful than anything we find in a pill bottle. Functional Medicine ultimately rests on one central principle: Taking out the bad and putting in the good.