Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Article for EternityWatch Magazine: Growing Your Food; Improving Your Health!

I recently contributed this article to the online magazine, EternityWatch. Click here to subscribe! Check out their website also at www.eating4eternity.org!

Growing Your Food; Improving Your Health!

By Andrea Nison

It is easy to feel a little overwhelmed when you begin your health journey. Sometimes it seems that the more you read and study, the more confused you become about what you need to be healthy. There are so many things to learn, and so many things to un-learn too! Once you jump in with both feet, you soon realize that this journey to a healthier life isn’t just about the food. There are so many other aspects to a healthy life, including emotional and spiritual health too.

Although the food you eat is not the only factor determining your health, you still must take into consideration the quality of the food you are eating. Of course eating mostly raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds play a huge role in determining the quality of your health, and making sure that these foods are organic is of high importance. But what happens when you are not able to receive vital nutrients from these raw foods? What if you are lacking important nutrients and you can’t seem to get them through any of the foods you are eating? This is where the incorporation of supplements into your diet plays a major role in determining how successful your health journey becomes.

The quality of our food is not the same now as it was 100 years ago. Vitamins and minerals have slowly been depleted from the soil. An article in the February 2009 issue of Time Magazine stated that today’s supermarket vegetables are almost 40% lower in minerals than those grown fifty years ago because of soil depletion and harvesting methods. There are more than 70 trace minerals necessary to produce healthy, nutrient-rich crops, yet most current farming methods routinely put back only three to five of them. No wonder our food is becoming less and less nutritious and farmers are forced to apply toxic pesticides to their weak plants to keep insects away so that they can get their crops to the market. It’s a vicious cycle, and we are left with unhealthy plants and depleted soil.

One of the best ways to guarantee that the food you are eating contains high-quality vitamins and minerals is to grow it yourself, using nutrient rich soil. But that is not all! You must begin to incorporate composting methods to help the soil return to its once fertile state after years of abuse and mistreatment. Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials. It is the best way to recycle your yard and kitchen waste, and it plays a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage sent to landfills. Adding the compost back into the garden soil will help enrich and condition the soil and it also works as a natural pesticide. There are many resources and handbooks available to help you get started recycling your kitchen waste. Composting is not only easy; it is fun!

Now you don’t need a lot of space to start your own garden. Square foot gardening is a technique used to help maximize garden space. Square foot gardening is usually done in a small, clearly defined area, using closely planted raised beds with a strong focus on composting. There are many resources online that will show you how to set up a garden bed using a square foot gardening technique to help you utilize your garden area. By growing your own food, you are able to add compost and other nutrient-rich soil to the garden beds, which will then provide you with living foods that are filled with vitamins and minerals.

You don’t even need a garden to start growing your own food! You can easily start growing sprouts and wheatgrass inside your own home. Sprouts are one of the most complete and nutritional foods that exist. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes. Some sprouts, like lentils, can be sprouted in jars and ready to eat within 2-3 days. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but by growing your own food, you are taking a step toward control of your health and your life!

I understand that not everyone has the time or room necessary to start growing your own food. And if this is you, then incorporating a few important supplements into your diet will help you obtain these vital nutrients and keep you moving on your health journey. Even if you are growing your food, you may still need to add a few supplements into your diet because some vitamins and minerals are not obtainable by eating a strictly vegan diet.

Everyone has different body chemistries and make ups, so not everyone needs the same supplements. There are a few supplements that I recommend to everyone, including vitamin D, vitamin B-12, probiotics and enzymes. These supplements are beneficial to everyone, but you might need to take a common blood test to help determine if there are any other areas you might be lacking, and then you can take the steps necessary to improve.

Vitamin D, the essential nutrient obtained from sunlight, is known for its many wonderful benefits, including protection from multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it helps the body use calcium from the diet. There are many different causes for a vitamin D deficiency, especially if you are on a vegetarian diet, because most of the natural sources are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver. If you are eating a plant-based diet, then supplementing with vitamin D could be beneficial for you.

Vitamin b-12 is another vitamin that is not found in any plant food. It is, however, abundant in many meats and fish, and in smaller amounts in milk and eggs. This makes it difficult for people following a strict vegetarian diet to get the necessary amount of vitamin B12. Adding a vitamin b-12 supplement to your regime will ensure that you are receiving enough of this vitamin, and there is no risk of taking too much vitamin b-12 because it has a low potential for toxicity.

Probiotics help maintain the natural flora in the intestines, inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria that cause digestive stress, improve digestion of food and absorption of vitamins, stimulate the immune system, and help make vitamins needed by the body. You can purchase Premium Grade Probiotics at our webstore at www.RawLife.com.

Enzymes are an important supplement because the body depends upon enzymes to help purify the blood, break down fats, cleanse the colon, maintain proper cholesterol levels and maintain peak energy levels. Enzyme supplementation with meals is a very good preventive measure, especially if you are eating foods that are nutritionally incomplete.

There are also many different vita-mineral greens on the market now, and these green powders are a simple and easy way to add more vitamins and minerals into your diet. It’s easy to add a scoop to smoothies or nut milks, and even water.

I recommend monitoring your blood work on a regular basis to determine if you have any deficiencies, and until then, start adding these recommended supplements to your diet. Even if you are able to grow your own food, it is still important to monitor your blood work to make sure you are receiving everything you need, and incorporating the appropriate supplements is extremely important and beneficial.


Jacque Dixon said...

Great article, Andrea. We composted and ate organic in the States, and we are hoping to be able to do some composting here as we plant our own veggies to eat.
Thanks for sharing this great and important information! I am going to use it to teach our children this week.

Dr.Kim said...

I'm hoping to finally begin a garden when we get settled in our new home, wherever that is. Thanks for sharing!

Alisa said...

Very helpful and informative! Thanks, Andee.