I’m going to take a break from the norm with this post and talk about nutritional supplementation. While my intent with the “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” series is to give everyone an idea of what foods may help with inflammation and/or acidity and to provide recipes for working these foods into an everyday diet, let’s face it…eating 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day isn’t very practical. To fill in the gaps left by the amount of food I’m not able to eat (or afford) I take a greens supplement every morning and recommend it for you, too. Let’s talk about why.
Alkalinity: From high school science, you may remember the term “pH balance.” pH is an abbreviation for “potential hydrogen” and measures the amount of free hydrogen. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14 with 0 being the greatest amount of free hydrogen and 14 being the lowest. More free hydrogen means more acidity. To give you an idea of how this relates to you, milk of magnesia has a pH of 10 which is why it’s recommended to sooth acid reflux. Water has a neutral pH of 7 (right in the middle of acidic and alkaline) and our bodies are mostly water. So, it stands to reason that our bodies want to be as neutral as possible. The problem is that so many of the foods we eat are acidic like proteins, dairy, and grains. That’s not to say that we should avoid proteins, dairy, and grains, but rather that our diets should be BALANCED! When your body is acidic, it pulls key minerals from bones and organ tissue in an effort to alkalinize itself back to neutral. Greens and fruits are very alkaline and can help bring your body back to a neutral pH balance.
Phytonutrients: This term comes from the Greek word “Phyto” or plant. So these are plant-nutrients. We know from our greens blog post that leafy greens are great sources of vitamins E and K and we learned in our turmeric blog post how important anti-oxidants are. The bottom line here is that plants contain so much micronutrition that is key to giving your body what it needs to run optimally. To say that a body should run optimally sounds like it would only apply to an athlete, but the truth is that a body in chronic pain is sapped of necessary vitamins and minerals without proper nutrition.
Minerals: These are essential nutrients (see our turmeric blog post) that our bodies need to survive. Plants absorb minerals from the earth’s soil and we in turn get minerals from either eating those plants or from eating animals that eat those plants. Some examples of the critical functions minerals play in our bodies include bone and teeth health, energy production, nerve and muscle function, and immune health.
Let’s talk about what to look for in a greens formula. You’ve probably heard of juicing foods, but it’s important to note that there’s a big difference between juiced fruits and vegetables and fruit and vegetable juice. When fruits and vegetables are juiced, the pulp and fiber are removed from the entire produce leaving a concentration of nutrients. The reason for doing this is that pulp and fiber take up room in our stomachs and require extra digestion. That’s what makes fruits and vegetables great for someone looking to keep calories in check while still eating enough food to feel full. But that full feeling can also keep you from consuming 10 servings a day. By removing the extra mass that fills us up and by concentrating the nutrition, we can easily get several servings of nutrients without the bloating and discomfort that comes with eating too much quantity.
Those of you who have tried juicing before know that it’s a hassle. The equipment can be expensive, take up room, is difficult to clean, and can’t multi-task like a blender or food processor. Also, you can’t juice several days at once because the end product has a very short shelf life and loses potency very quickly. All in all, it’s not very practical for most of us. That’s why I take a greens powder supplement. Greens supplements are dehydrated fruit and vegetables whole or juiced and there are benefits to both. Powerhouse vegetables like beets retain their nutrient content in the juice, not the pulp. So to get the most out of a greens formula we want to see “juice extracts” listed in the ingredients. On the other end of the spectrum fruits like blueberries hold a lot of nutrition in the pulp, so removing pulp would be wasting precious phytonutrients. A good greens formula will also have “whole fruit extracts” listed in the ingredients.
I want to make a promise to everyone who reads this blog that I will never recommend a product or food that I don’t personally take or eat, and I mean regularly if not every day. One of the better greens formulas that I’ve come across and one that I currently take every day is sold by the company It Works!. To my knowledge, these products are direct sale only, so if you know a distributor I suggest you ask them about this product. If you don’t know anyone who sells these products, you can get the greens formula at http://doleyswellness.myitworks.com. Regular customers receive a huge discount off of the retail price that make the greens formula very affordable. This product contains beet juice powder, blackberry powder, blueberry powder, dandelion extract (great for the liver), 50 mg of magnesium (more than a banana), 250 mg of potassium (more than a cup of oatmeal), and I honestly like the taste. I encourage you to do your own product research, but I do believe that any readers suffering from chronic pain should be taking a daily greens formula daily.