March is National Nutrition Month. Since we have an excuse to celebrate nutrition all month, let’s use this opportunity to kick it up a notch. Here are some suggestions to help you on the road to better nutrition:
Eat a Rainbow of Color
When we eat a rainbow of color from fresh fruits and veggies we know that we are getting the nutrients our body needs to function at its most optimum level. Plants get their vibrant colors from phytonutrients and it is those phytonutrients that provide us with the antioxidants our bodies use to slow the aging process and reduce our disease risk.
Fresh squeezed juice is a fantastic way to provide our bodies with concentrated doses of phytonutrients and antioxidants. When you juice, use vegetables as the base of your juice and use fruit sparingly to sweeten the juice.
Smoothies are another fantastic way to consume a rainbow of color. Unlike fresh squeezed juice, smoothies provide your body with fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive tract. Experiment with your smoothies this month. Many people are surprised to discover that a handful of spinach or half of a cucumber will not change the taste of a fruit smoothie.
Cut out processed foods
Challenge yourself to forgo processed food this month. Vegan or not, processed food is processed food. Reacquaint yourself with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. I know that convenience is a huge factor, but you will be surprised by how easy it is to whip-up a tasty soup from scratch or a batch of beans and rice with steamed veggies on the side.
Try some new recipes
The internet is a smorgasbord of amazing recipes. There are so many wonderful websites dedicated to vegan recipes that are sure to inspire you to try something new. On the weekend take some time to search the web for recipes to make for the following week’s meals. When you do a little prep work, making meals from scratch can be quick and cost effective (and the left-overs make awesome lunches the following day!).
Add some super foods
Try a new super food this month. It is easy to enhance your health by adding a teaspoon of maca (for hormone health), or spirulina and chlorella (both are natural chelators) to your smoothies. Another great add to a smoothie is açaí pulp (super concentrated antioxidants).
Give wheat grass a try
There are a lot of people intimidated by wheat grass. The next time you are at a juice bar or health food store, give it a try (ask for a chaser of orange juice). Wheat grass contains chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes; many of which help to combat oxidative stress. If you don’t have access to wheat grass juice, try the powdered form and mix it with water as I often do.
Live active cultures
Add yogurt and kefir to your diet. Thankfully, So Delicious now offers coconut yogurt and kefir. I personally add coconut kefir to my smoothies on a daily basis since the live active cultures are so beneficial for our gut. According to Dr. Perricone, “[P]robiotic microbes help the body’s ongoing fight against infectious diseases by competing with the pathogens for food, nutrients and survival.”
While exercise is not something we consume, I consider it a valuable nutrition partner since it aids digestion. Studies have also shown that exercise can help prevent gastro intestinal symptoms. That being said, it is important not to eat a large meal before exercising since the digestion of that meal will compete for your energy. A great pre-exercise snack is a banana and a few nuts.
Drink more water
I know we all are aware of the importance of consuming enough water. Really focus this month on upping your water intake and replacing other beverages (namely soft drinks) with water or herbal tea. Since our bodies are on average 70% water, your body will thank you for properly hydrating it.
image via ericawondergirl
Gretchen Tseng is a Nutrition Specialist with Certification in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. At a young age she experienced a series of illnesses which propelled her to seek nutrition based solutions. Gretchen is absolutely passionate about sharing the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle and can be found doing so through her website Veggie Grettie at www.veggiegrettie.com . Gretchen lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, and 4 legged best bud. She dreams of living on a farm someday surrounded by animals and the most amazing organic garden she can imagine.