Broccoli is one of those vegetables that I hated when mom put it on my plate when I was growing up but have learned to enjoy as an adult. Especially since I know it is “good for you” and I actually like the taste. Certainly better than spinach which really needs to be prepared just right before I’m interested in taking the risk.
But is it really “good for you” and why? I have identified six benefits of eating this interesting vegetable.
- Improves Bone Health – Broccoli is high in Vitamin K which is vital in building strong bones. Just one cup of broccoli provides 92 micrograms of Vitamin K, well over 100% of your daily requirements. Consuming Vitamin K improves absorption of Calcium which is also necessary for strong bones.
- Anti-Aging Properties – Broccoli is packed with Vitamins C, A, and E which fight skin damage caused by the sun, reduce wrinkles, and improve overall skin texture. Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of Collagen, the main support system of the skin. It also contains Glucoraphanin which the body converts to Sulforaphane which helps rebuild skin cells and stimulates a variety of antioxidant defense pathways in your body that can reduce oxidative stress and slow down the decline in your immune system. This slows down the aging process.
- Cancer Fighter – This same Sulforaphane can inhibit the enzyme Deacetylace which is known to be involved in the progression of cancer cells. It has been shown to kill cancer stem cells, striking at the root of tumor growth. Sulforaphane is especially effective in preventing melanoma, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. Broccoli also contains the Vitamin Folate which has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer.
- Detoxification – Broccoli is a great source of fiber which promotes healthy digestion. This not only lowers the risk of colon cancer but aids in cleansing our bodies of all the toxins which we ingest. It also contains three important phytonutrients with really long names which support our body’s detoxification process.
- Anti-Inflammatory Properties – Inflammation is a natural way our body heals. When you get a wound on your skin your body creates inflammation to that spot to enhance healing. But, due to the stresses of our lives as well as the toxins in our food, water and air our inflammation system works overtime and this has become the root cause of many chronic diseases. Broccoli aids in reducing inflammation due to the flavonoid Kaempferol. It also contains Omega-3 fat which helps control our inflammation system.
- Heart Health – Broccoli contains B-Complex vitamins which can make a major contribution to our cardiovascular health. It also reduces cholesterol levels. The fiber-related nutrients contained in Broccoli bind together with some of the bile acids in our intestines in such a way that they simply stay in the intestine and pass out of our body rather than getting absorbed into our blood stream. When this happens our liver draws upon our existing supply of cholesterol to accomplish its goal of replacing the lost bile acids and, as a result, reduces our cholesterol level. Broccoli also contains Lutein which may help prevent thickening of your arteries.
Bonus – Two carotenoids found in broccoli, lutein and zeaxanthin, play an important role in the health of the eye. In fact, no tissue in the body is more concentrated with lutein than the area in the outer portion of the retina. In a similar way, zeaxanthin is concentrated in the macula near the central portion of the retina. These substances reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts.
Bonus 2 – Many people are deficient in Vitamin D to the point that diet alone cannot supply their needs so they must take supplements. Broccoli does not have Vitamin D but it is high in Vitamins K and A. These two Vitamins keep our Vitamin D metabolism in proper balance so if you take in too much Vitamin D Broccoli will balance that out and control the overdose.
So stop pushing the little tree-like veggies off your plate and, instead, pile them on for good health. They are one of the best foods to keep us healthy.
Build and maintain healthy social relationships. God created us to be social beings. Even if you are shy or introverted you need other people to share life with. Not only do we receive much joy from others, we need to feel we are helping others and providing value to their lives as well. It gives us meaning and purpose. To be healthy and happy we need many healthy people in our lives from casual friends to our very best intimate friend (or spouse). I believe, and many experts agree, this is the most important factor to living healthier happier longer.
Stay active. Exercise is good for your body and will keep your brain sharp and agile. Exercise should raise your heart rate and increase muscle temperature. And it isn’t necessary to become an obsessive workout beast. All it takes is 20 minutes per day of sustained exercise to do wonders for your body and your mind. Everyone is busy these days but you must make the time for this valuable discipline. Chronic couch potatoes are not living healthier happier longer.
Eat fresh produce and whole grains. Vegetables and fruits are necessary for our bodies to thrive. Get familiar with the produce department and stay away from the highly processed convenience foods. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition people who ate five daily servings of fruits and vegetables live three years longer than those who rarely ate produce. And the quality of their lives were better as well. Whole grains keep our digestive tract healthy and our cardiovascular system going strong. Fresh foods help us living healthier happier longer.
No smoking! Everyone knows this but not everyone follows this. Smoking is a huge detriment to health in so many ways. Life expectancy is 10 years less for smokers and quality of life is much worse. Just drop it and move on. Be strong. Smokers are not living healthier happier longer.
Get a good night’s sleep but not too much. Researchers in Europe report that regularly sleeping less than 7 hours per night raised the risk of death 12 percent and sleeping more than 9 hours boosted risk by 30 percent. Many things can prevent sleep but with practice you can overcome those obstacles. How can you truly live healthier happier longer if you go through the day in a fog?
Maintain a healthy weight. Weight is more than a diet, it is a lifestyle. Don’t obsess over it. Just make good choices every day and strive to improve. That’s what works for the long term. Eat smart and move. Simple. Not easy but simple. Jim Rohn said “what is easy to do is also easy to not do”.
Manage stress. How can you possibly live healthier happier longer if you are constantly stressed about things you have no control over? Learn how to change your internal dialogue, focus on the good things in your life and on how you can be a blessing to others. Prayer, meditation, reading/watching inspirational books and videos will eventually change you from the inside out if done consistently. Learn what calms you and make a habit of doing those things.
We must be intentional in our actions and habits to learn how to live healthier happier longer. It is a lifelong journey and is well worth the effort.
As I pointed out in my last post (check it out if you missed it) our food supply has been decreasing in quality as the small family farm has been eliminated and corporate farms do everything possible to produce more and reduce cost. The nutritional value is just not what it once was and our bodies are not getting the vitamins and minerals needed to be healthy. I recommended eating local organic food but even the most organic sources of food do not contain all of the critical nutrients for optimal health. Because of this fact, nutritional supplementation has become a standard in Natural Medicine.
In his book “Empowering Your Health” Dr. Asa Andrews recommends supplementing your diet with what he calls “the foundational four”.
Whole Food Multivitamin – this is a quality multivitamin that is taken each day. These are, in essence, compressed, dried food as opposed to the synthetic types which are commonly advertised and sold in most grocery and discount stores. The best I have found is Sun Nutrition Green Multivitamin. You can buy it on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1NAtzzv
Digestive Enzymes – these break down the food we eat and help assimilate all your nutrients. These once came from the soil but that is no longer the case. The lack of proper enzymes impairs the functioning of our immune system resulting in us getting sick more often. Enzymes also transform nutrients to become the new healthy cells your body needs to be well.
Probiotics – this enhances the good bacteria in our digestive system which are essential for proper digestion, increased immune function and reduced inflammation. Because of our personal overuse of antibiotics as well as harmful bacteria in our food supply we must supplement what we get naturally. Yogurt is a good source of good bacteria but it can also contain too much sugar and other artificial ingredients. An excellent probiotic is Advocare Probiotic Restore Ultra. Grab some at http://bit.ly/1DZEUsC
Omega-3 Oils – these are fats that our bodies need and can be found in cod liver oil, most nuts, salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds. Our bodies do not produce essential amino acids on their own but it is necessary for many functions in the body such as proper hormone function, brain function and skin, hair, and nail health.
These are the very basic nutritional supplements everyone needs to take because of our lifestyles and the compromised quality of our food. I will discuss others in the future which many people need based on their specific situation.
We have a serious problem with the food supply in America today. The farming industry has drastically changed in the last 50 years and practically all our food is grown by big corporate farms. The days of the small farm run by a family and a few hired hands have gone the way of the phones that “dial”. Because of the need to be profitable they must be run very efficiently to control costs and produce as much food as possible. This depletes the nutrients in the soil resulting in lowered nutrients in our food.
The widespread and generous use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides destroy the soil’s beneficial organisms. This results in the food grown in this soil having fewer nutrients and trace minerals. Since the crops must travel long distances to arrive at your local grocery shelves they are picked way before they ripen so they look ripe by the time it is ready to purchase. The produce in particular is genetically altered to look bright and fresh in the store but the nutrients are just not what they once were.
And I have only pointed out problems with our soil. We also have serious problems with livestock and poultry. Bees are dying in record numbers as are many different types of fish.
So what can we do to make sure our bodies get the nutrients they need?
1. Buy from local farmers, ranchers and bee-keepers. Especially the ones who use organic farming practices. By supporting them you are fighting the organizations which would like to control your food supply. To find local folks visit your farmers market or ask at your locally owned health food store.
2. Grow your own if possible. Not everyone has the land or the time to do this but consider the benefits of raising some of your own food.
3. Eat as healthy as possible and take nutritional supplements to fill in the gaps. Many of us have vitamin and mineral deficiencies and don’t even realize it. Taking high quality supplements can make you feel young again and five you back the energy you once had.