The world is awash with superfoods. A term that was foreign to most of us a decade ago, superfoods have been elevated to superstar status in grocery aisles, restaurants and even the corner coffee shop.
We are bombarded with superfood menu items, mix-ins, supplements and serums. But how do we dial in to the true superfood superstars in this crowded galaxy of information? Let’s turn to science.
The use of plants as medicine dates back thousands of years to early civilizations turning to plant-based cures for diseases. Biblical references to medicinal plants and herbs abound. And Hippocrates’ work as far back as 459 B.C. documents the connection between plants such as garlic, asparagus, parsley and opium to physical responses in the body.
Scientists have long searched for the root of healing with medicinal plants. And specific superfood research conducted by scientists at City of Hope, a leading research and treatment center, gives us a glimmer of the power of plants.
Specifically, the researchers found certain plants can play a role in fighting cancer by blocking the hormones that feed tumors.
- Mushrooms (Prostate/Breast/Lung Cancer) – Extracts from white button mushrooms can reduce PSA levels in prostate cancer patients and block an enzyme that produces estrogen. In breast cancer patients, reducing estrogen may stunt tumor growth.
- Pomegranates (Breast Cancer) – Contains six natural compounds that can suppress the hormones that make tumors grow.
- Blueberries (Triple Negative Breast Cancer) – Inhibits growth of this very aggressive type of breast cancer.
- Cinnamon (Tumors) – Stunts tumors by blocking them from forming blood vessels to feed them.
- Grape Seed Extract (Breast Cancer) – Blocks a hormone that causes the disease to spread.
Some of the most powerful inflammation busters come from the ground. And chronic inflammation is nothing to mess around with, as it’s a sign your body is recognizing something that doesn’t belong.
Anti-inflammation foods can reduce the risks of chronic inflammation, and by default, chronic disease. In addition, eliminating as many processed foods as possible also contributes to reduced inflammation.
In fact, researchers at Harvard Medical School recommend including a variety of anti-inflammatory superfood superstars in your diet, including:
- Dark green, leafy vegetables – Kale, spinach, collard greens are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols.
- Olive oil – Research has shown it protects memory and learning ability and reduces formation of some classic brain markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Salmon – A great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, along with tuna, mackerel and sardines.
- Raw nuts and seeds – Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds.
- Coffee – contains polyphenols and other anti-inflammatory compounds.
Gut Support Go-To’s
When it comes to digestive health, this is an area that I know well. Because I battle an autoimmune disorder, it causes me to be on high alert when it comes to anything that may disrupt gut health.
- Walnuts – New studies have found walnuts can positively change the makeup of bacteria in the gut because they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, alpha-linoleic acid and fiber.
- Bone Broth – Contains immune-optimizing compounds including gelatin, calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, and amino acids including glycine, glutamine and proline.
- Fermented Vegetables – Sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented veggies contain antioxidants, detoxifiers and beneficial bacteria.
- Red Cabbage – Contains the amino acid L-glutamine, which is helpful in healing the soft tissue lining of the intestines.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Rich in enzymes, ACV supports your liver’s natural detoxifying function. Additionally, it stimulates digestion and combats constipation.
The bottom line is the foods we eat can either feed our health or destroy it. I have experienced dramatic improvements in my own health after eliminating certain inflammatory foods from my diet and adding more superfood superstars to my plate each day.