06/12/2015

Optimizing Your Nutrition: Part Two

This four-part series offers highlights from our recent panel on Optimizing Weight Loss, Digestion and Healthy Aging with Nutrition. Check out part one for tips from Chris D’Adamo, PhD.

Jennifer Helene on Nourishing Traditions

Health coach Jennifer Helene's talk focused on nourishing traditions—how cultures around the world have sustained and healed themselves with nutrition for many generations.

Whole foods

At the center of nourishing traditions are whole, unprocessed foods. While it may be hard for us to fathom where people find the time, many cultures still grow their own. Jennifer described the norm for families in Switzerland and Germany to cultivate gardens of colorful, heirloom vegetables, even on very small plots of land.

She emphasized that whole foods, like many nourishing traditions, are the key to graceful aging, sustainable weight loss, and optimal digestion. Jennifer recommends consuming whole foods in their complete, unadulterated form. For example, it’s preferable to eat whole, organic, seasonal vegetables with their original nutrients intact, rather than peeling and cooking them.

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Bone broth  

A staple in cultures around the world, bone broth has been consumed for its healing properties for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.

“Not only is bone broth a really great source of calcium, but also magnesium, phosphorus, (and) trace minerals,” Jennifer said. “So if you’re roasting a turkey or a chicken for your family, don’t throw those bones away. Make a broth out of it.” 

As Chris mentioned in his talk, quality matters. Jennifer advises choosing bones from animals who were grass-fed and humanely raised.

What’s the sign of a great bone broth? “When they get cold, they get kind of like gelatin,” Jennifer said. “That’s when you know it’s a really good one.”

Fermented foods

Another mainstay of healing traditions are foods are that are fermented, or cultured. These include sauerkraut and kimchi—both made from cabbage—as well as yogurt and kefir, a beverage featuring dairy or non-dairy milk.

Often an excellent source of probiotics, fermented foods offer impressive health benefits. They’ve been shown to reduce inflammation, improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, and more.

However, not every fermented food supports optimal health. Jennifer recommends steering clear of ones that contain added sugar, and some products are pasteurized, which destroys their beneficial bacteria.

Herbal teas

Jennifer described the ancient practice of foraging for herbs with which to brew a stomach-soothing tea. Encouraging us to look beyond peppermint and chamomile, she touched on the wide array of Chinese medicinal herbs, and spoke highly of Greek Mountain Tea, a popular folk remedy known botanically as Sideritis. Various species of Sideritis have been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and anti-oxidant effects.

Daniela, Erin, Jennifer Helene

Daniela Troia, Erin Peisach, and Jennifer Helene