Green vegetables play a vital role in a healthy, balanced diet. Greens provide the nutrients that maintain and protect many of the systems of the body, improve cellular nutrition, increase energy and vitality, support healthy metabolism, boost immune function, and fight free radicals.
"Superfood" is a term used for greens that are packed with chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. Some common green chlorophyll-rich superfoods are cereal grasses such as alfalfa, barley grass, oat grass, and wheat grass. Spirulina, or blue-green algae, is also loaded with chlorophyll, minerals, and phytonutrients that are essential for good health.
Phytonutrients, a group of nutrients specifically derived from plants, are necessary for optimal health. Some of the amazing properties of these phytonutrients are partly due to the activity of antioxidants, which are specific vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help protect cells from the damage of oxidation. Antioxidants help to prevent the formation of free radicals that can cause damage to cells, impair the immune system, and lead to many degenerative diseases. Free radicals are naturally produced through metabolic processes in the body. Exposure to infection, air pollution, sunlight, contaminated food, cigarette smoke, and a less-than-healthy diet can create an overabundance of free radicals throughout the body. Though our bodies naturally produce free radical scavengers to keep free radicals in check, it is nearly impossible to get enough antioxidants to hold back the ever-increasing number of free radicals our bodies are exposed to from foods and the environment.
Many of the degenerative disorders that we associate with aging have to do with the accumulating presence of free radicals. The process of aging slows the regeneration rate of cells. Aging cells are more susceptible to damage and premature death due to changes in metabolic function which compromise their physiological integrity and homeostasis. When there is an overabundance of free radicals, they begin attacking the cell membrane and genetic material causing cellular damage and dysfunction. The immune system can then attack these cells, (marking them as foreign invaders), and create an auto-immune response. As we age, proper nutrition is more important than ever for cell growth, repair, and support. Remember that as our bodies naturally slow down, it is possible to maintain vitality and a zest for life.
Our blood, plasma, and cellular fluid are slightly alkaline. The average healthy pH of the human oxygenated blood is 7.35-7.45. The pH of intracellular fluid is 7.4 with variations of 0.1. Even slightly acidic tilts are biologically costly to cellular metabolism. Nutritional councils recommend a diet that is more alkaline than acid by a ratio of approximately 5:1. Diets that are high in acid-forming foods are typically excessive in protein and fats. Foods that are acid-forming, such as animal flesh, eggs, dairy, processed foods, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, and chemical artificial sweeteners, can cause premature deterioration of the body. An acidic pH can result in a decrease in the body's ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients, a decrease in energy production by cells leading to fatigue and making the body more susceptible to illness, and a decrease in the body's ability to detoxify heavy metals. Therefore, acids that are ingested must be neutralized as to not have a damaging effect on the body. Alkalizing minerals, such as potassium and magnesium, found in cereal grasses, have been shown to reduce acid, therefore lowering the rate of cellular breakdown in the body.
Not only are less healthy dietary choices a crucial contributor to an internal environment of excessive acid, but also a factor is the body's ability to handle stress. High levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the bloodstream lead to an increased acid load in the body. Keeping calm through regular exercise such as yoga or brisk walking and establishing a meditation practice helps relieve the body of stress and protect against disorders that can stem from metabolic acidosis, a condition which occurs when the body's pH is consistently more acid.
Another important aspect of maintaining the acid-alkaline balance in the body is bone health. Our bones act as a buffer reservoir for calcium, sodium, potassium, zinc, and other minerals. When metabolic acidosis is present, the mineral reserves of the bones are tapped and begin to break down the bone matrix. This is a common underlying problem of osteoporosis.
In addition to the nutritive value and immune support that greens supply, many greens have a tremendous cleansing action in the body. Chlorophyll, present in all greens, is a natural deodorizer, helping to eliminate bad breath and body odors. Greens such as wheat grass, alfalfa, and dandelion are powerful blood purifiers and support a healthy liver function. Alfalfa provides a high amount of vitamin C which allows the body to produce glutathione, a liver compound which removes toxins. Dandelion is not only a high nutrient food packed with vitamin A and C, but is also a great blood builder, providing a rich source of iron. Moreover, the plant's bitter taste stimulates the appetite while increasing bile production in the gallbladder, helping the liver to more easily transport toxins from the body. Detoxifying accumulated toxins from the body can aid digestion, increase energy, improve skin complexion, and help eliminate headaches.
Knowing the importance of green vegetables in our diets, how can we eat as many servings as recommended? Currently, nutritional guidelines have increased the recommended daily consumption of fruits and vegetables to 5 to 13 depending on a person's caloric intake. Based on a person needing 2,000 calories a day to maintain health and weight, this equals nine servings (4 1/2 cups). The average American consumes a total of 3 servings a day. Ideally, all of us would like to get the nutrients we need for optimal health from fresh, healthful foods. In reality, this is very difficult. The rise in chemical pollutants, stressors in our environment, and busy lives that prevent us from preparing each meal make supplementation a great and practical way to reap the benefits contained in these nutrient-packed foods.
Many of us are lucky enough to have gardens or be connected to local farms making it very easy to enjoy the bountiful harvests of organic, fresh, local greens. When your nutritional needs cannot be met by diet alone, it is especially important to consider taking a greens supplement. Everyday Greens is a concentrated superfood supplement containing organically grown, nutrient-rich cereal grasses, spirulina, and dandelion. This 100% vegetarian formula can be the perfect complement to a diet rich in a variety of fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is formulated with specific greens to support the body's nutritional needs and cleanse the body of natural toxins.
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”