Updated: Oct 25, 2021
There is something grave missing from our nutrition conversation-nutrients derived from plants, otherwise know as phytonutrients. With over 10,000 identified and more than that still unknown it's easy to gloss over the importance of having a diversity and abundance of these in our diets.
Herbs are highly concentrated sources of nourishment providing a wide variety of minerals, vitamins, and phytonutrients. Most people think of herbs as just a natural pharmaceutical pill. Something to take once they are sick. We know better now.
The best way to use herbs is to include them in your diet every single day. Even just adding a little dried oregano to your pizza can dramatically increase the number of phytonutrients you are exposed to.
Having a wide diversity of phytonutrients in your daily diet can positively impact our genetic expression (epigenetics). That means we can change the way out genes express themselves based on what we eat! We can literally change our physical body and get healthier from increased phytonutrient exposure and limit chronic disease!
So, my number #1 Nutrition Rule is "Eat a wide variety of plant foods."
Dr. Kevin Spelman, PhD says "Chronic disease may come from a lack of phytochemical exposure. Your ancestors had 8-10 times ( a conservative estimate, probably more realistic estimate is maybe 100x more) exposure to phytochemistry than we do today. And that [lack of exposure] foments chronic disease".
How can you get more plant foods into your diet?
1) Add dried herbs and spices to everything you eat. You have a stock of medicine already in your kitchen pantry!
2) Drink Herbal teas. Peppermint, chamomile, roobois, oatstraw, nettle, passionflower, green tea and MORE! Tons of nutrients but healing nourishment for your body too.
3) Make herbal/plant-based snacks! You can make herbal candies, add powdered herbs to oatmeal or cookies, or even make snack smoothies like this one.
Here’s a DELICIOUS smoothie with some foods you might not usually eat.
Fennel- an aromatic unique taste that has been used in Europe traditionally for digestive ailments. An excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber, phosphorus, folic acid, magnesium, manganese, iron, calcium and molybdenum. Herbalists use fennel for soothing intestinal cramps, improving stomach function, relieving gas and soothing pain. It is also very high in anti-cancer coumarin compounds.
Zucchini and yellow squash- Mostly water but lots of potassium, vitamin C, and carotenes. Also anti-cancer benefits.
Cucumbers- Another watery vegetable that still packs a lot of nutritional value. They are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin a, and folic acid. When you eat the skin you get a lot of fiber and some important minerals such as silica, potassium, magnesium, and molybdenum. The silica found in cucumber contributes to the strength of our connective tissue. Connective tissue is what holds our body together including muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. The ascorbic acid and café gases found in cucumber prevent water retention, which may explain why cucumbers applied topically are often helpful for swollen eyes, burns, and dermatitis.