Your lifestyle, vegan or not, can be generally healing and supportive of good health, or the root of disease.
Food has tremendous healing potential, and can rightfully be viewed and approached as “medicine.”
In some cases, specific food items can help speed healing of an acute health problem, such as a bout of cold or flu. In other cases, the effect is more long-term and preventive in nature.
Either way, keeping your kitchen stocked with REAL foods, i.e. unprocessed, whole, and non-GMO (ideally organic and locally grown) is a wise move if you seek to optimize your health and quality of life.
Here are 8 “medicinal superfood” favorites you may not know about!
Moringa against infection
Moringa a plant native to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, has a long history of medicinal use. The leaves contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, and can be used in the same ways as spinach (raw, steamed or cooked).
It’s also high in fiber, and has antibacterial activity. Importantly, moringa contains isothiocyanates shown to protect against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, which has been implicated in ulcers, acid reflux, and gastric cancer.
Purslane for Omega 3s
Purslane is considered an invasive weed, but it’s eaten as a leaf vegetable in many parts of the world. Particularly of interest to vegans, purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Research states that Purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for a land-based vegetable source. EPA is a long-chain Omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish and some algae. Purslane also contains vitamins; mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids, as well as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments with powerful antioxidant properties. About one cup of fresh purslane leaves contain 300 to 400 mg of alpha-linolenic acid. A half-cup of purslane leaves contains as much as 910 mg of oxalate, a compound implicated in the formation of kidney stones, however, spinach and chard also can contain high concentrations of oxalates, therefore it’s reasonable not to consume too much of them.
Shiitake mushrooms for improved immune function
Shiitake mushroom contain a number of health-stimulating agents, including lentinan, which has antitumor properties. It also has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and immune-boosting effects.
In one recent study, shiitake mushrooms were found to significantly improve participants’ immunity parameters, including a 60 percent increase in γδ-T cells; 100 percent increase in natural-killer T-cells; increased IgA levels (corresponding to increased immunity); reduced C-reactive protein levels (corresponding to reduced levels of inflammation); and increased levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin (IL)-10, IL-1alpha, IL-4, and tumor necrosis factor [TNF]-alpha).
It’s important to eat ONLY organically grown mushrooms, as they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in — good or bad. Mushrooms are known to concentrate heavy metals, and air and water pollutants, which would defeat their medicinal value.
Ginger for menstrual cramps
According to Dr. John La Puma, a practicing physician and professionally trained chef:
“Ginger probably works as well as ibuprofen for menstrual cramps. It works taken as a ginger capsule or chewed.”
A recent meta analysis concluded that taking 750-2,000 milligrams of ginger powder during the first four days of your menstrual cycle was an effective treatment for cramps.
Blueberries against cancer and aging
Blueberries contain mechanisms that inhibit cancer cell development. Some blueberry species contain in their skins significant levels of resveratrol; thought to be an anti-aging phytochemical. Reports showed consumption of blueberries (and other berries) may alleviate the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of aging. Research has shown that blueberries may help prevent urinary tract infections, as well as lower cholesterol, and may help blood pressure. Other studies found that supplementing diets with blueberries may held memory and symptoms of depression.
Prunes against constipation
Prunes and their juice contain mild laxatives and thus are a common home remedy for constipation. Prunes also have high antioxidant content.
Fermented vegetables for gut health
Fermented vegetables, which you can easily make at home, typically contain high levels of probiotics making them ideal for optimizing your gut flora.
Ideally, you’ll want to consume a variety of fermented foods to maximize the variety of beneficial bacteria, as each have their own set of benefits.
Kimchi, for example, a traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables and a spicy blend of chili peppers, garlic, scallions, and other spices, is an excellent source of lactic acid bacteria, which research suggests can help you detoxify insecticides.
These man-made neurotoxic chemicals bioaccumulate in your body, where they can remain for long periods of time if you don’t take steps to eliminate them.
According to a 2009 study, the organophosphate insecticide Chlorpyrifos degraded rapidly during kimchi fermentation, and was over 83 percent degraded by day three. By day nine, it was degraded completely.
Aloe vera for leaky gut
Aloe vera aids the absorption of nutrients, and helps heal your gut lining to prevent leaky gut and other intestinal problems, including Crohn’s disease, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and acid reflux.
Aloe vera juice (made from the inner clear gel) should ideally be made from home-grown aloe with leaves that are one half to one inch thick before harvesting. Species that produce thick leaves are best.
It takes about two years to grow a tiny four-inch aloe plant to one that you can regularly harvest leaves from.