Water is 60% - 70% of our body weight, and every system depends on water. It flushes out toxins, carries nutrients to cells and supplies a moist ‘home’ for our ears, nose and throat tissues. Not drinking water can lead to dehydration, which happens when we don’t have enough water in our bodies to carry out our every day functions. This drains our energies and in turn makes us feel tired and lethargic. We lose water everyday through our perspiration, urine and bowel movements and through our breath, so for us to function properly we must replace the water supply by drinking beverages and foods that contain water. So always aim to drink eight 8oz glasses of fluid per day, and as a guideline, women should consume approx 2.2 litres per day and men 3 litres.
OK they are loaded with carbs, but the release of these sugars is very much slowed down by the fibre, and as oats have 10grms of protein every serving of half a cup, they give us steady muscle-building energy. They also lower the risk of heart disease and keep bowel movements regular and healthy, owing to the soluble fibre they contain. Eating approximately one cup of oats each morning will give you optimum health benefits – in fact it is the perfect way to start your day.
This is a rich source of plant based omega 3s and folate which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis. Spinach is packed with lutein which is a yellow carotenoid pigment found in plants and egg yolks – this also fights age-related macular disintegration. Try for one cup of fresh spinach or half cup cooked per day. It is very beneficial for anaemia, tumours, constipation, insomnia, high blood pressure, colon/prostate/breast cancer, and also helps ailments of the kidneys, liver and bladder.
Not all yoghurts are Probiotic, so make sure the label says ‘live and active cultures’ – and aim to take one cup a day. This is not just a tasty snack mixed with fruit but it also has great health benefits and is an exceptional source of protein, calcium, riboflavin and Vit B12, and it contains more calcium and protein than milk because of the added cultures it contains. Cultures are composed of living micro organisms which are the main ingredients for many of your health benefits of yoghurts. Yoghurts improve natural defences, by replenishing your gut flora.
Two very important things to note about tomatoes are that the red ones are the best as they contain more of the antioxidant, lycopene, and that processed tomatoes are just as potent as the fresh kind. Studies have shown that a diet rich in lycopene decreases your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, skin and stomach cancers as well as the risk of coronary artery disease – so if you aim at eating 22mg of lycopene per day equivalent to eight cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice, you are on the road to a much healthier body.
This amazing tea fights acne, based on its ability to lower levels of an acne-producing hormone. Try and drink three to five cups of green tea every day to reap the full benefits for your skin. It is also jam packed with antioxidants, which in turn will help your skin look younger and much healthier after a very short time! It also improves brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits.
I think I have mentioned these berries before but it’s always worth reading about them a second time. Deep coloured blueberries and cherries are absolutely loaded with antioxidants, which help your body fight off blemishes. Just one cup of strawberries contains over 100mg of vitamin C nearly as much as a cup of orange juice. Everyone needs vitamin C for their immune system to help it function properly and for strong connective tissue. They also add calcium, magnesium, folate and potassium and the good thing is that one cup contains only 53 calories. The pigment that gives berries their blue and red hues are good for your health as well. They contain phytochemcials and flavonoids that help to prevent some forms of cancer. Cranberries and blueberries contain a substance that may prevent bladder infections, and eating a diet rich in blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries may help to reduce your risk of several types of cancer. Blueberries and raspberries also contain lutein (very potent antioxidant) which is very important for healthy vision.
Brown rice contains ceramides, a substance found in a lot of your skin products. These are lipid molecules which help the skin maintain its moisture. When eaten naturally they get incorporated into the outer layer of your skin and help maintain its hydration. Brown rice also has the benefits of being a concentrated source of fibre and this is needed to minimize the amount of time that cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells. Brown rice also reduces the possibility of heart diseases, helps to avoid unexpected spikes in sugar levels, also helps digestion and reduces constipation etc.. In fact some medical surveys have shown that brown rice can control high blood pressure too. It also contains other nutrients, such as the B vitamins, manganese, selenium and iron.
All yellow, orange and red fruit or vegetables contain carotenoids, which are compounds associated with the reduction in a wide range of cancers, conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis – but for easy cooking and low calorie content carrots take first place. You should aim to eat half a cup daily. Carrots contain beta-carotene which is an antioxidant fighting the free radicals that donate to the conditions like heart disease, cancer and macular degeneration. Studies have shown that men who have high levels of beta carotene and vitamin C had a 37% lower risk of cancer than others with lower levels. Also contained in carrots is another antioxidant called alpha carotene, studies have shown that, consumed in high amounts, leads to a lower occurrence of lung cancer.
The berry that not only boasts of containing the most antioxidants than any other fruit, but also helps prevent diabetes, age related memory changes (nicknamed the ‘brain berry’) and cancer. They are rich in fibre and vitamins C and A, they also boost the health of heart and blood vessels. It’s interesting to note that blueberries maintain their power in jam form, dried and also frozen.
These beans are shiny and have a dark shell-like appearance with a rich flavour that is often compared to mushrooms. They are very good at lowering cholesterol owing to their high fibre content, and you will find that most legumes have the same qualities. They are very beneficial for people suffering from diabetes as they prevent blood sugar levels from rising after a meal. Combined with brown rice they provide fat free high quality protein. These ’magic’ beans also contain insoluble fibre which helps to increase stool bulk and in turn prevents constipation, They also prevent digestive disorders like IBS and diverticulosis.
This popular nut is richer in omega 3s than salmon, has more anti inflammatory polyphenols (these eliminate free radicals in the body which are the cause of a number of health problems) than red wine and contains half as much muscle building protein than chicken, they also prevent premature aging and help prevent cancer among other ailments. A serving of walnuts, roughly seven, will do you good anytime but especially as a post workout recovery snack. It is also a heart friendly snack, containing mono unsaturated fat it could reduce the risk of heart diseases by lowering the level of bad cholesterol. They also help maintain heart rhythms and reduce the risk of blood clots in the arteries.
This fruit is an excellent source of pectin, which is a soluble fibre and lowers blood cholesterol and glucose levels. They are also a good source of vitamin C and antioxidant. Vitamin C also helps form the connective tissue collagen, keeps capillaries and blood vessels healthy and also helps in the absorption of iron. It is also loaded with many other vitamins, minerals and cancer fighting antioxidants. And the good news, they are very low in calories and high in fibre making them a perfect diet food.
A study showed that people who ate a diet which was high in fish and seafood had less wrinkles. The reason being, that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish and seafood, slow down the wrinkling process. Omega-3s also help fight acne in a similar manner. It is recommended that acne sufferers eat four to five servings of oily fish per week to treat this condition. If this sounds too much for your palette than try fish oil supplements instead.
It is interesting to note that eating any tomato-based food such as sauces or juice may help clear up acne. Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant and the phytochemical that gives the tomato its red colour, lowers the acne promoting hormone and tomatoes or tomato based foods should be eaten between three or five times a week. Tomatoes contain large amounts of vitamin C, providing 40% of the daily value; they also contain Vitamin A, potassium and iron. Studies have shown us that those who eat more than seven servings of raw tomatoes lower their risk of developing rectal colon or stomach cancers by 60%. Also Lycopene is a very powerful inhibitor of lung, breast and endometrial cancer cells and an added bonus is that it helps older people stay active longer – and although raw tomatoes are good for you, cooking them releases even more of these benefits – this is due to the fact that Lycopene is situated in the cell wall of the tomato and by cooking, this healing compound is fully released. So don’t worry if you can’t get fresh tomatoes, as the canned variety or tomato sauce or juice are just as good for you as the fresh ones are.