Knowing the medicinal benefits of your food intake can allow you to take control of your diet and your health – beat the blues, fight against inflammation, guard against cancer, improve your memory. You can create your own potions, add colour to your diet and enjoy the theatre of culinary creations.
Dr Rupy Aujla, author of The Doctors Kitchen: Eat to Beat Illness, professes that there are certain foods that benefit certain parts of our body:
Your eyes – Think orange
Carrots are well known for helping us see in the dark and packed with beta-carotene, a plant chemical concentrated in the eye and excellent for retinal health. These properties are present in pumpkins, sweet potatoes and red peppers
Your skin – Go Nuts
Nuts, especially brazil nuts which contain Vitamin E, neutralise the compounds causing sun damage. Also, whole grains, beans and nuts are a source of copper for skin rejuvenation and healing. Selenium is also present which helps to reduce redness and inflammation.
And a word about protecting the skin against harmful sunrays, apart from sunblock cream. Sunlight penetrates the deeper layers of the skin creating compounds which disrupt the DNA causing inflammation. Colourful vegetables and fruits can provide additional protection due to their antioxidant capacity by providing vitamins and nutrients to reduce the negative effects. Some micronutrients such as beta-carotene, found in papaya and squash may be able to absorb harmful light.
Your heart – Rich colours
Blueberries and other colourful foods, such as beetroot, red cabbage and grapes contain antioxidants which clinical data has shown help to reduce blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Your mood – Keep it live
Think yoghurt – Your mental state and your gut often govern your mood. Your gut can be kept healthy with a source of live yoghurt and fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut.
Your brain – Green links
Dark leaf greens contain nutrients to reduce inflammation. Vegetables such as spinach and other vegetables are believed to be a reason why the brain processes can become disrupted leading to tiredness and low mood. Research has demonstrated a link between high vegetable intake and lower rates of dementia.
Herbs & Spices carry health benefits too. Many spices contain dense concentrations of phyto-chemicals and micronutrients which provide antioxidants. Exotic spices such as turmeric and cloves play a role in treating inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric, ginger, fennel are good for the immune system and shown in some studies to reduce gut inflammation.
We all react differently, so be aware of food allergies or if changing your diet drastically, check with your GP.