What do you think when you hear the word calcium? You probably think of either dairy or your bones, not broccoli.
Calcium and vitamin D are important throughout our lives to keep us strong & healthy. Calcium is vital for bone development in children. More than 50% of bone mass is formed during our puberty years. It’s important to eat lots of foods rich in calcium and vitamin D well into our 20s. However, you may be surprised to learn that our bodies are still building bone up until the age of 30. In our 50s and beyond, calcium and vitamin D are important for preventing bone loss and osteoporosis.
Luckily, there are many non-dairy sources to help keep your body running strong! You can find these vital nutrients in dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt. Broccoli, kale, soybeans, figs, oranges and seafood are also excellent non-dairy sources!
People over 18 years old need 700 mg of calcium per day.
For a list of the top 40 calcium and vitamin D rich foods, check this out: https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/a-guide-to-calcium-rich-foods/
F is for fruits, fish and folate.
Along with calcium and vitamin D, folate is another vital nutrient. Folate is the natural form of a B vitamin in foods. Folic Acid is the synthetic form. Non-pregnant adults need 400 mcg of folate daily.
Reduce the risk of birth defects, such as spina bifida, with an adequate intake of folate. If you are pregnant, the National Institute of Health recommends you consume at least 600 mcg of folate from their normal daily diet. In addition to eating foods that are rich in folate, if you are planning a pregnancy or are in the early stages of pregnancy (the first three months or ‘first trimester’) you should take a daily supplement containing 0.5 mg of folic acid. If you are breastfeeding, the recommended daily intake is 500 mcg.
Harvard University researchers have uncovered a link between lower frequency of infertility and folic acid, omega 3s and folic acid. A diet rich in beans, wholegrains, salmon and other oily fish, walnuts, wholegrains, vegetables and fruit can also boost fertility in men and women.
Skip the drive thru burgers. An Australian study has found a connection with eating fast food and lower fertility. The study also found women who consumed fruits at least three times a day in the month before becoming pregnant where able to conceive a month earlier than those who didn’t eat enough fruit.
When stress kicks in, kick it to the curb!
Stress impacts physical and emotional wellbeing, but it can also impact your immune system.
There’s a ton of buzz about the importance of gut health these days. We now know that a healthy gut is important for more than just digesting food. Many people are surprised to learn that most of the immune system is found in the gut. Studies have shown a STRONG link between gut health (microbiome) and anxiety, depression and stress. Gut microbes produce and regulate serotonin. 90% of serotonin is found in the digestive system and helps with feelings of well-being and happiness. It’s actual biological function is multifaceted. Serotonin contributes to cognition, learning, memory, and numerous other physiological processes by sending signals between your nerve cells. This is why the gut is often referred to as your second brain.
To maintain a healthy gut, eat a diet that includes plenty of fiber. Add probiotic foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and other fermented foods. It’s also important to include prebiotic foods such as onions, lentils and leeks.
Avoid refined sugar. Sugar and refined/processed foods can create gut imbalance and inflammation, weight gain & hormonal imbalance. White, or refined sugar also promotes the growth of bad bacteria and upsets gut flora balance.
Magnesium is another essential mineral for serotonin production and can help combat depression. Magnesium is available in supplements and is also plentiful in wholegrains, beans, seeds, nuts and green leafy vegetables. http://defyagewithfood.com/magnesiumformuscle
In conclusion, a balanced diet rich in green leafy vegetables provide many physical and emotional benefits. Aim for at least five servings of vegetables daily (that’s about 2 1/2 cups of cooked vegetables), and that includes leafy greens. Whole foods are preferred, but most people get about half of what they need every day. If 2 1/2 cups of vegetables just isn’t something you can do, most people only eat about half that amount, you can opt for your greens in a drink. I love and use this one: Organic Greens. Add in exercise, at least every other day, and some meditation as often as you can. You’ll feel better physically, emotionally refreshed, and ready to face the challenges of your day with a healthy attitude!
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