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By Amanda Gia Johnson

The key to staying as healthy as possible is lowered inflammation, healthy weight maintenance, and not being overrun by negative stress and depression. The following foods have the key elements to accomplish those goals and also improve the quality of life.

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Inflammation in the body is defined as experiencing disturbed function. Disturbed function in the body leads to disease and diminishes quality of life. If the inflammation or improper function can be prevented, diseases can be cut off at the pass and avoided altogether.

1. Tart Cherry

Cherries are full of unique anthocyanins and other compounds that naturally mediate the inflammation in the body. These and some other deeply colored berries, fruits, and vegetables contain nutrients that combat inflammation. While all cherries pack an anti-inflammatory punch, tart cherries contain higher levels of the flavonoid anthocyanin.

2. Cruciferous Vegetables

Your mom was right to make you eat your Brussels sprouts! Cabbage, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower reign supreme with cutting down inflammation. There is a clear cut difference between inflammation levels in individuals who consume cruciferous vegetables regularly as opposed to those who do not.

3. Legumes

Chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of cancer. Legumes, most specifically lentils, are the superheroes of cancer prevention. They have an abundance of phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. One of the most important nutrients of all legumes is dietary fiber. The presence of fiber in all legumes is one of the essential nutrients to combat inflammation.

4. Green Tomatoes

Not to be eaten raw due to toxic compounds, cooked green tomatoes are vitamin and mineral dense. These nutrients ward off cell degeneration which occurs with time and sedentary lifestyles. They are great post workout foods because the active, valuable compound tomatidine is a muscle builder. Muscle atrophy occurs naturally with aging. Cooked green tomatoes’ tomatidine works against that process extending your life.

Healthy Weight Maintenance

One of the keys to maintaining a healthy weight is eating nutrient dense foods that will keep you fuller for longer periods of time. Protein and inflammation fighting fiber are the nutrients that have many health benefits and will keep hunger pangs at bay. Swapping out high saturated fats for healthy unsaturated fats will also help with maintaining a healthy weight.

5. Olive & Olive Oil

This antioxidant super food fights and prevents cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and the list goes on. It combats obesity despite its high caloric content. Instead of butter and margarine which lack nutrients, use olive oil which is rich in phenolic antioxidants. These antioxidants are also found in honey, the majority of legumes, berries, cruciferous veggies, green tea, onions, chocolate, red wine, among others. These antioxidants combat inflammation as well. The monounsaturated fat content in olives and olive oil has been found to enhance the body’s breakdown of stored fat equaling weight loss!

6. Whole Grains like Quinoa, Freekah and Teff

With these exotic whole grains, your palette and your hunger will be satisfied. Along with being high in hunger fighting protein, these grains are known for controlling and preventing diseases such as diabetes, certain colorectal cancers, and macular degeneration. You’ll live longer and will be able to see which is a bonus! Replacing wheat with freekah and teff will give you immediate benefits. Substituting rice with quinoa is a smart move. These grains are clear examples that all carbs are not bad

7. Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon

This omega-3 fatty acid rich fish also is high in protein and other beneficial amino acids. Any protein that provides good fats and is low in bad fats is an ideal staple to any diet.

Mood Boosters

Depression is caused by imbalances in brain chemicals especially serotonin and dopamine. There are various triggers such as substance abuse, emotional trauma, vitamin deficiency, and physical diseases that can negatively impact this balance. Strategically including the following foods to your diet will increase key brain chemicals that boost your mood and thwarts the imbalances that cause the doldrums that shorten lifespan and make it unbearable to boot.

8. Shell Fish

Vitamin B12 and zinc are immediate mood boosters and are found in most shellfish such as clams and oysters. Vitamin B12 is used by the brain to make dopamine and serotonin which are the “happy” chemicals. Zinc is present in brain cells and helps create new brain cells.

9. Walnuts

Walnuts are a Super Food that provides alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is necessary for proper levels of dopamine and serotonin. Proper levels of ALA also prevent inflammation.

10. Coffee (in moderation)

Caffeine sometimes has a bad reputation, but that is when used in excess. Coffee has beneficial health effects, but as it pertains to mood, caffeine stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin.

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How to Begin the Day without Stress

If you’re like most of us who are working on your farm and still keep a regular job to make ends meet, then stress is something you are sure to experience from day to day. First, there’s a fight for space in the bathroom to use sink or mirror. People get in each other’s way and chaos follows. At other times, morning mayhem comes from simply being disorganized. You can’t find your briefcase, you’ve just run out of breakfast cereal, and you forgot to arrange day-care for the kids the night before. And if that weren’t enough you get to participate in the morning rush to work. It’s all one big headache that makes you want to turn around and head back home, right? But there is a way to begin the day with a smile instead of a grimace. Here’s how to enjoy mornings and create a positive mood, no matter what the morning has in store for you.

Grab “me time” in the morning

You might not realize mornings are ripe for “me time.” The rest of the day may be filled with chores, but when you open your eyes, you can affirm your sanity and peace of mind. Rise and shine before your family gets up or the neighbors are noisy.

Get up and greet the morning with a mug of coffee and ease into the day. Or meditate, use positive affirmations, and set a healthy intention to take into the rest of the day.

Prepare for a terrific day

Gather all you need for the day the night before so you are ready. Not needing to panic will give you space to breathe calmly and enjoy the morning without dashing. Also, your preparation will make you feel positive and capable. Having gathered all the tools required to make sure your day goes well, you’ll be off to a good start and continue to be upbeat and organized.

Remember to get tiresome chores out the way you would rather not deal with in the morning the day before too. Make necessary phone calls and arrangements, prepare your packed lunch, and take out the trash so your to-do list isn’t chock-a-block when you rise.

Don’t begin the morning with stress. Otherwise, your mood will be negative and you won’t have a good day. Prepare and organize the night before and set the alarm to wake you a little earlier than normal so you can enjoy time to yourself. As a result, you’ll start the day without anxiety.


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