Greens will Change your Life
Summer is in full swing and cooking in the summer heat is the last thing I am thinking about. It is a great excuse to pile on the cool, refreshing and hydrating green leafy vegetables on the dinner table for my family. At least I am supporting and making our local and sustainable farmers happy, if not my family! If you are like my boys, all three, including my husband, want to say “But I don’t like vegetables.” Leafy green vegetables are packed with iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin A, C, E, and K, folic acid, fiber, polyphenols, and antioxidants, and provide more benefit than the 12 I have listed. I hope that 12 B’s will give you an incentive
to include them in your daily diet. Enjoy the summer in good health with an abundance of energy and glowing skin!
1. Boost energy levels
Fatigue may result from nutrient or iron deficiency. Eating green leafy vegetable such as kale, lettuce, and spinach that are high in iron may correct the deficiency causing the lack of energy. These greens are also rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamins A, C, E, K, packed with folic acid, fiber and antioxidants, which benefit the body immensely.
2. Boost Digestive Enzymes
If you suffer from gastrointestinal issues including bloating, constipation, reflux and nutrient deficiencies, this maybe a symptom of a deficiency in a digestive enzyme. Raw leafy greens support the body to produce digestive enzymes. You may wonder if your diet is providing you with the proper nutrients, or if you are deficient in digestive enzymes. This is the type of testing functional medicine provides.
3. Boost Mood
Leafy greens are excellent source of folate, which helps your body produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, to keep you calm, reduce stress, and enhance your sense of well-being. In a study reported in the Journey of Affective Disorders, middle-age and elderly people who ate the most folate had a lower risk of depression, when compared to the control group.
4. Brain Memory Boost
I like to tell my boys they need to be green eaters to help their memory. Now I have this study to back me up. The study was published in Neurology this year. It found that the people who ate mostly leafy greens daily, had memory function that was 11 years younger than their age group and had a slower rate of cognitive decline compared to those who ate the least amount of leafy greens!
5. Belly Bloat
Did you know that potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte to help prevent the bloat. How? By keeping the sodium potassium pump fluid balanced to prevent bloating. Essentially, the problem occurs when you eat a lot of processed food, which is loaded with sodium. Leafy greens are rich in potassium a single cup of cooked spinach has 840mg of potassium. In order to keep the sodium potassium pump balance according to the USDA’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, it requires 4700mg/day of potassium.
6. Build Bones
Vitamin K is more important than milk to develop strong bones. Vitamin K increases bone mineral density, and is protective against fracture for someone with osteoporosis. Broccoli and kale contain loads of vitamin K. Researchers in Sweden found that a higher milk consumption had a high risk of hip fractures, especially in women. So switch out your source of calcium from milk to dark leafy greens.
7. Blood Pressure Reductions
Magnesium found in green leafy vegetables can help your blood vessels relax as well, lowering blood pressure and reducing your risk of hypertension that could lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart failure. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and snow peas are rich in vitamin C, which enhances the absorption of iron, and boosts the formation of nitric oxide, which helps the blood vessels widen for better blood flow and lowering of blood pressure.
8. Beautiful skin
The micronutrients in green leafy vegetables do so much for the skin.
• Vitamin A found in greens combat acne, slow down production of sebum flush.
• Beta carotene in leafy greens give your skin a youthful glow and is a powerful antioxidant to renew and repair the skin.
• Vitamin C helps produce collagen a key factor in maintaining healthy skin and hair as you age.
• Vitamin E protects the skin cells from free radical damage.
• Folate is vital for DNA repair to maintain new cells.
• Leafy greens contains disease fighting phytochemical like chlorophyll, that provide protection against free radicals that age your skin.
• Lutein antioxidant boost hydration, improve elasticity and protect against sun damage
9. Burn Protections From The Sun
Did you know you can prevent sun damage from the inside out? I call this a nutritional sunscreen. Beta-carotene protects the skin from the harmful effects of UV rays from the inside out. Kale is abundant in beta-carotene. Other foods that are protective from the sun are foods rich in omega 3 , that include watermelon, carrots, red peppers, sweet potatoes, other leafy greens, green tea, strawberries, kiwi, oranges, salmon, nuts and seeds.
10. Battles Inflammation
It seems everyone is aware of the importance of antioxidants, which are found in green leafy vegetables to combat inflammation and to prevent chronic illnesses. Polyphenol are micronutrients in green leafy vegetables that have anti-inflammatory properties which combat against disease such as diabetes neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, digestion issues, and help with weight management
11. Blood Glucose Levels Better Regulated
Green leafy vegetables improve insulin sensitivity which lower blood glucose levels, reduce “sluggish” thyroid flares cause by high blood glucose levels and increase your metabolism. The body is amazing, considering how all systems work together. Large swings in blood sugar trigger your body to convert more T4 to ReverseT3 the inactive form of thyroid hormone thus slowing down your metabolism. So have a little extra green and stabilizer your sugars, by having a little more than one serving of greens can reduce your risk of diabetes by 14%.
12. Bowel Health
I can not say it better than Dr. Gabrielle Belz from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute’s Molecular Immunology division that discovered the gene T bet. “In this study, we discovered that T-bet is the key gene that instructs precursor cells to develop into ILCs, which it does in response to signals in the food we eat and to bacteria in the gut,” Dr Belz said. “ILCs are essential for immune surveillance of the digestive system and this is the first time that we have identified a gene responsible for the production of ILCs.”The research was published in 2013, in the journal Nature Immunology. Simply put, cruciferous vegetable such as broccoli, brussels sprouts turn on the T-bet cells to produce lymphoid cells (ILCs) that protect the against bad bacteria, gut infections, inflammation from food allergies and intolerance, support a healthy immune response and seal the leaks in the gut. Fiber from the green vegetables feed your good bacteria.
The 3 non B’s are
1. Prevent Cancer
Cancer prevention by the anti-inflammatory properties of green leafy vegetable prevent normal cell from transforming into tumor cells and inhibit tumor cell survival. Specifically cruciferous vegetable, arugula and kale to lower risk of colorectal, pancreatic, ovarian and bladder cancers.
Greens helps to cleanse the liver due to the chlorophyll, the pigment that makes the greens – green! Chlorophyll supports your liver to detoxify and improve your immune system by removing toxins in your blood stream. Chlorophyll found in spirulina, chlorella, parsley and alfalfa bind to heavy metals and remove them the from the body.
3. Finally but not the least… Prolongs life
How does greens prolong life? They delay the shortening of telomeres. The protective caps on the ends of our DNA are telomeres. Telomeres shorten with age, and once these caps are gone the cells die. Telomeres are sensitive to our lifestyle choices. Our lifestyle choices can either increase or decrease the rate of the telomere shortening, therefore effecting our aging process. One vegetable that preserves telomere length is broccoli.
Now, get out the kitchen and enjoy the summer heat with a cool refreshing bowl of greens and live longer, be happier and healthier!
Anita Wang, MD