By Gladys Kublik
Owner Neighbors Vitamin Shop
If you are a gardener, then August is like a month in Paradise, harvesting those first succulent fruits of your labors is heaven on earth. Who can resist baby potatoes, carrots and beets, not to mention sugar sweet peas in the pod and don’t forget cucumbers, cool, crisp and flavorful. Probably the highlight for most gardeners is the taste of those first tomatoes ripened on the vine!
With all the new information being made available in the areas of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and immune function, the importance of vegetables and fruits in the diet is being proven daily. Not only do vegetables fresh from the garden actually contain the vitamins and minerals nutritional charts indicate that they do, but they also contain high levels of antioxidants which slow or prevent the process of oxidation in the body, protecting the body’s cells from free radical damage by donating an electron to convert the free radical to a harmless molecule which can be excreted by the body. Free radicals have been found to contribute to plaque in the blood vessels, tumor growth, and inflammation in general.
Secondary to high free radicals in the body as a contributor to chronic disease is inflammation. When tissues in the body are injured for any reason, the damaged area is flooded with blood and special cells that fight infection and remove wastes. This influx of fluids causes the typical swelling, redness and pain associated with inflammation. It’s also just the first step in the inflammatory response; it triggers a sequence of events in the immune system. Part of the response is the release of proteins that stimulate a system-wide inflammatory response. Sometimes that stimulus continues, resulting in long-term inflammation. This chronic inflammation damages healthy tissues in the body and contributes to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
To combat inflammation choose green and brightly colored vegetables, and whole fruits such as broccoli, chard, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, carrots and squash all rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals . You should eat at least five (and preferably more) servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Season your cooking with lots of onions, garlic, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme and turmeric and you will get even more anti-inflammatory action from your diet.
The third factor in chronic health issues such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, arthritis and osteoporosis, chronic fatigue and poor digestion is pH imbalance, or a system which tends to be more on the acidic end of the spectrum. This is not the same as an acidic stomach, but when the pH of the body’s tissues and fluids become more acidic; a state which is all too common in many of us. This state of acidity weakens our bones, veins and arteries in the same way that the shell of an egg will become rubbery if left in a high vinegar solution. The acidity of our bodies is raised by all the things we love – sugar, tea, coffee, colas, fries, desserts and also a good part of our diet considered beneficial such as meats and dairy products, grains and flours, nuts and legumes.
Juicing the following vegetables is an excellent way to combat acidity: Garlic, Asparagus, Sea Vegetables, Parsley, Watercress, Beets, Kale, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Zucchini, Collard, Greens, Cucumber, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Dulce, Dandelions, Edible Flowers, Onions, Ginger Peppers, Pumpkin, Rutabaga, Arugula, Sprouts, Squashes, Alfalfa, Spinach Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Wild Greens and Grasses, etc. You’ll notice the majority of these vegetables are the greens, the darker the better, and juicing gives your diet a high concentration of them.
The beauty of these fresh vegetables and also the terrific seasonal fruits and berries is the fact that they contain no additives and are extremely low in calories. They offer nutrition, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties without added sugar, salt or processing to make them palatable. For times and seasons when the fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t available, there are high quality pure juices and supplements found at the local health food store. Beware of products containing added sugar, raw cane juice, sucanat, dextrose or corn syrup, salt or additives as these contribute to the problem as much as the solution.