When it comes to food – the basics aren’t that complicated: load up on healthy whole foods and ditch the added preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, sweeteners, trans fats, artificial flavorings, and colorings. If you want to take healthy eating a step further, it’s not hard to tailor your choices. Here are some of my favorite ways to tap into the power of nutrition:
1. Recover quicker with healthy proteins
A good workout does a body (and soul!) good, but it does stress our muscles and tap into our energy reserves. To speed up recovery and stay on track with your fitness goals, load up on healthy protein and carbs within 1-4 hours after your workout. Protein shakes made from whey or pea protein are convenient and easy. Pump it up by adding some Greek yogurt and/or rolled oats. When I was doing lots of martial arts, I lived on bean and brown rice burritos on whole grain tortillas. Tuna fish and crackers, peanut butter and honey on whole grain bread, find what you enjoy and mix it up. If you like poultry, meat, and dairy choose organic and humanely raised. Not only is it the right thing to do for the animals, but avoiding all those antibiotics and added hormones will do your body good, too.
2. Fight off colds with bright veggies
It’s age-old wisdom that’s been passed down through the generations: bright fruits and vegetables are a first defense against colds. Jam-packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, these gifts from the earth fortify our immune systems. If you really want to give your immune system a jumpstart, pick up some shiitake or maitake mushrooms and add them to your veggie stir-fry. Rich in beta-glucans, they are definitely on my recommended list for getting through a stressful time or season!
3. Soothe your soul and fight anxiety with green tea and dark chocolate
We hold anxious thoughts and difficult feelings in our muscles as much as in our minds. There is a saying “the body doesn’t forget” and I believe that wholeheartedly. When we are struggling to regain emotional wellness, turn to the mood-boosting gifts from green tea and high-quality dark chocolate. Green tea contains small amounts of caffeine, which increase mental focus, but it also contains L-theanine, a substance that has been shown to quiet and calm. Dark chocolate is one of my favorite food-as-medicine prescriptions, as it is rich in compounds that gently lift the mood, as well as being good for the heart and mind.
4. Soothe stomach upset with fermented foods
We’re lucky to live in a time when yogurt and kefir, and other fermented foods, are widely available. These probiotic-packed foods are a great source of calcium, high in protein, and have the ability to repopulate gut flora when it’s out of whack, a gastric state that is far too common in modern times! I recommend including a cup of Greek yogurt and/or 4 ounces of kefir 3-4 times per week to your diet. If dairy doesn’t agree with you, you can stick with an old stand-by like sauerkraut or try something more adventurous like kombucha!
5. Beat fatigue with proper hydration
Don’t forget the water. We lose a lot of it every day just through normal activity and if you’re physically active, you’ll lose even more!
Trust me. Many, many people constantly live in a state of marginal dehydration, which can lead to fatigue, false hunger, muscle soreness, and water weight retention as the body tries to hold on to all the moisture it can. While you can get water through foods, like fruits and veggies little extra moisture–one of the easiest ways to heal the body is by increasing your daily intake of water. And make it interesting! Throw some cucumber or berries or mint into your water bottle. It’s generally better to sip water throughout the day rather than gulping down a huge glass of water at once. The kidneys’ job is to regulate and filter, balancing levels out over time. If you take too much water in, the body cannot make use of all of it at once and you’ll just pee it out.
It’s all connected
Food is more than just the sum of its carbohydrates, calories, grams of protein, vitamins and minerals. It is the celebration of life, friends and family. Enjoy your food. Eat food that nourishes and sustains. And remember, that a life well lived really is your very best medicine.
About Dr. Low Dog and Well & Being
Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.’s exploration of natural medicine began more than 35 years ago as she studied midwifery, herbal medicine; massage therapy and martial arts before earning her medical degree from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. An internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women’s health, Dr. Low Dog was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, served as the elected Chair of the US Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplements and Botanicals Expert Information Panel, and was appointed to the Scientific Advisory Council for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. She has appeared on CNN, ABC’s 20/20, and is a frequent guest on the Dr. Oz show and NPR’s The People’s Pharmacy. She currently serves as the Fellowship Director for the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine.
Well & Being is an innovative spa concept at luxury resorts featuring immersive, fully-customized wellness experiences including fitness, nutrition, integrative medicine, mind-body therapies and advanced skincare. Developed to provide healthy lifestyle choices that can be integrated into day-to-day life even after they leave the hotel setting, through personal consultations with Well & Being coaches, guests select dynamic packages or a la carte programs that fit their individual needs and preferences.
Spreading the concept of evidence-based healthy living, Well & Being utilizes a community of accomplished spa, fitness and health professionals led by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, a renowned expert in integrative medicine, to provide guests with a personalized assortment of evidenced based tools for immediate and long-lasting results. For more information, visit www.wellandbeing.com.