THE FUEL. How Super are Super Foods?

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It’s no secret that healthy living in all aspects has become mainstream. Green smoothies, chia puddings and headstands are no longer just reserved for instagram feeds, they have made their way into our daily lives, embraced by health junkies and newbies alike. To call it a trend would be an understatement, it’s a phenomenon which is making a huge impact on the way we approach health and wellness. Of course, with all the hype comes big business, with healthy lifestyle products being highly marketable and the offerings endless and a little overwhelming. There are so many different buzzwords thrown around when it comes to healthy eating without us really understanding what they mean. ‘Super Food’ is one of the most popular buzzwords and widespread concepts to come out of the wellness movement, and with all the hype comes the question… Are Super Foods just a very clever marketing ploy, or are they really a panacea for all our health and wellness concerns? To offer some insights into the debate we spoke to our contributor Chef Gabriele Kurz, Executive Chef at Talise Nutrition

The answer, according to Chef Gabi is somewhere in the middle. There are certain ingredients that are highly beneficial for health, supporting essential body functions and it definitely makes sense to add them to our daily intake of food. However, these so called Super Foods cannot live up to their reputation if we don’t prepare the grounds for them to work their magic. Below Chef Gabi shares some essential information for the most effective way to incorporate Super Foods into our diet.

“One Super Food cannot outbalance an otherwise poor diet or unhealthy lifestyle. It all has to match to make sense for our body system to respond in the desired way.“

In my nutrition and healthy lifestyle talks I always highlight the two cycles of eating habits. One cycle is based on a balanced, wholefood diet that leads to an increase of health and wellbeing. The other cycle, which is unfortunately still far too common, is based on processed food, where additives, sugars and over fatty and salty foods lead to poor health in the long run.

If we stay within the poor cycle of eating, and just add one healthy eating pattern, or a Super Food, the issue remains that the overwhelming majority of food is still poor nutrition. Entering one or two Super Foods into this cycle won’t have sufficient power to change it to the better. In fact, this may cause undesired reactions due to the mismatch of the food cycle. Take the example of a very popular, nutrient dense and acknowledged Super Food: Whole grains. When we keep white sugar and products made with it like sweets, cakes, desserts, sugary drinks and the likes in our diet and then introduce at the same time whole grain products like muesli, whole grain bread, brown rice or quinoa, we often respond with bloating, gas production and cramps. In the end people tend to give up on a Super Food rather than changing to a better diet altogether, having now experienced ‘it is not good for them’.

Knowledge, balance and patience are key in using so called Super Foods. They cannot undo the damage of other unhealthy choices, but they do provide a starting point for healthier habits.

Recommendations for the best Super Foods.

“You don’t have to go crazy for the latest, farthest travelled super food powder found on this earth to live healthy. There are much simpler powerful sources, ideally organic quality and as much as possible locally sourced”

I always ensure I have chlorophyll in my food. Found in all green leaves and seaweed. Think of wheat grass, parsley, spinach, kale, lettuce. Chlorophyll optimizes oxygen absorption, blood cleanser, protein builder.

I recommend eating some bitter tasting ingredients as they help liver function, an organ that has much work to do to detoxify the body and run fat metabolism smoothly. Artichoke, green papaya, endive are great additions.

Adding raw roots vegetables like grated carrots and beets help digestion, brain function and support mild detoxification.
I chew oily seeds, nuts and avocado (in moderation) for the best fresh pressed oils you can imagine. Think golden flax seeds, sesame, almonds, cedar kernels, raw cacao nibs.

For energy and endurance get good carbohydrates. Small amounts are sufficient, the quality matters. Fresh crushed naked oats, millet, quinoa, sweet potato, chick peas. Think oat muesli, millet porridge, or quinoa risotto, oven baked sweet potato or sprouted chick peas.

Speaking of sprouts: These are powerful energizers and so called living foods with high nutrient presence. Try broccoli or rocket sprouts. Besides their goodness they are super delicious.

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