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Your health is what you eat
Your health is what you eat
Tej K. Munshi
“If you are what you eat and you don’t know what you’re eating, do you know who you are?”
----- Claude Fischer.
Wellness: Is your overall well-being. Wellness or fitness is your health at its very best. The benefits of overall wellness are ageless! Well-nourished, physically active children and teens grow and develop better. Healthful eating helps people at every age and stage of life and may even slow ageing. Healthy eating involves foods derived from plants---vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes (beans, peas, lentils) ---and should make up the bulk of calories you consume. The rest should come from low-fat dairy products, lean meat, poultry and fish. Studies show that people who eat this way have a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other disorders.
Vegetables: Anything that has a leaf; anything that is green, red, orange or white. Like micronutrients, many plant chemicals mainly phytochemicals and carotenoids that add colour to vegetables and fruits, help promote good health. Many phytochemicals act as antioxidants that may help protect against heart disease, cancer, and other ailments. If you base your diet on a variety of vegetables and fruits, you will get all the phytochemicals you need.
Beets: In eastern tradition, beets are believed to be an excellent liver tonic and blood purifier. Beets get their red color from a compound in them called, betacyanin. According to Dr. Dharmasingh Khalsa, a renowned US nutritionalist, betacyanin is a portent cancer fighter. Beets are also loaded with potassium, a vital mineral for heart health, besides calcium, iron and vitamin A and C, which the leaves contain.
Brocolli: Is another top super vegetable that has been lauded for its cancer fighting power, mainly because of its anti-cancer phytochemicals called isocyanates that neutralize carcinogens.
Cabbage: Is the most important vegetable in the world from the point of view of its phytochemical power, presence of calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C and K, betacarotene and eye-healthy carotenoids, besides the phytochemicals called indoles that reduce the risk of breast and prostrate cancer.
Carrots: Well-known naturopath, Dr. Michael Murray, calls carrots ‘ the king of vegetables ‘ and for good reasons. Carrots are high in carotenoids, antioxidant compounds associated with health benefits. Studies conducted at Japan’s Kyoto University, reveal that alpha and beta carotene present in carrots may be powerful in inhibiting tumor growth especially the lung cancer. Moreover, it contains calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A and C.
Cauliflower: Being a member of the cabbage family and, as such contains compounds like indoles and sulforane that give it the reputation of a potent cancer fighter and antioxidant.
Collard Greens: (Haak-Saag). The expression ‘soul-food ‘ is used in the West for this cabbage-family vegetable which lies between cabbage and kale. Collards provide valuable cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Collards provide calcium aplenty, besides magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vits. A, C and K. Containing significant amounts of carotenoids, they have the nutrients for eye health.
Kohlrabi: (Kadam). It comes in two ‘flavors’, green and purple; kohlrabi is among the world’s healthiest foods as it contains important phytochemicals, indoles, sulphoranes, isothiocyanates that can fight the cancer cells.
Mushrooms: While mushrooms have been used medicinally in eastern medicine for aeons, western medicine is now beginning to catch up. The three specific types with the greatest health benefits are: Maitake, Shiitake, and Reishi. All three have powerful effects on the immune system. They’re now used as adjunctive cancer treatments throughout Asia. In China it is thought to be a tonic for a long and healthy life since third century BC.
Okra: (Bindhi). For generations okra has been a staple of traditional Asian cooking. In the West it is longingly called ‘soul-food’. Okra contains a unique combination of valuable nutrients which act as antioxidants and support the immune system. Okra is a high fiber food which helps the liver detoxify chemicals.
Onion: This alluim vegetable family member, besides garlic has proved its protective effects against stomach cancer and lowered the risk for prostrate and esophageal cancer. These alluim members contain compounds, with health benefits including thiosulphonates, sulphides and sulphoxides which reduce mortality from coronary heart disease. Onions help build strong bones due to being loaded with calcium.
Tomatoes: Botanically speaking tomatoes are a fruit; technically they are a berry, and legally they’re a vegetable. Cooked tomatoes are a rich source of the carotenoid lycopene, which is associated with significant reduction in prostrate cancer. Lycopene in tomatoes also protects against lung, stomach and pancreatic cancers.
Pumpkin: Is a great overlooked vegetable, low in calories, while very high in potassium and vit. A, besides it has the useful beta-carotene and potassium, that is 33 percent more than banana. Its carotene is also useful in eye-health.
Spinach: (Palak). Green leafy spinach provides more nutrients like vitamin K, useful for building bones besides, folic acid, magnesium, iron and flavonoids---that function both as antioxidants and anticancer agents.
Green peas: (Mutter). Peas are actually legumes that originated in western Asia. Peas have first traveled from Greece to India and later China. Peas are a little high in sugar as legumes, but that is balanced by fiber vits. A and K.
Lentils: (Dahl). Are small disk-shaped brown, reddish-orange or brownish green legumes that grow in Central Asia and India. Lentils are most popular in India, where they are cooked as an amazing-tasting curry.
Turnips: (Shalgum). Are commonly grown root crops and widely acclaimed for their cancer-fighting indoles, isothiocyanates and other health-giving phytochemicals. Turnips are also high in anticarcinogenic glucosinolates, fiber, potassium, and calcium.
Despite the health benefits of the aforementioned vegetables, the rampant use of carcinogenic pesticides, insecticides and fungicides on vegetables in North India, not only offsets the nutrients but recreates malignancies among the gullible vegetarians. It’s the same insecticides and fertilizers that have been eschewed in the West decades ago.
*Dr. Tej K. Munshi, is Ex. Professor, Deptt. of Applied Sciences, NIT (J&K)
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