“Let food be thy medicine & let thy medicine be food.” was the advice by Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician who lived from 460 to 370 BC. He is considered to be the father of western medicine.
It is not easy today as it was those days to view food as medicine. Those days food was natural, pure and safe. However, these days foods are unnatural, laden with chemicals and sometimes unsafe for consumption. It is very unfortunate that modern man lifestyle diseases are traced back to food and its constituents.
Amidst all this, Hippocrates advice can still work today if you follow the next five secrets.
1. Paint your plate rainbow
A dinner plate oozing a random collection of colours is the new way to health and long living. This is against the conventional monotone or two-tone plate of food comprising of a corner of white starch sitting beside a vegetable stew or meat stew
Brightly coloured foods are heroes that provide high quality nutrients to fight cancer, enhance immunity, improve eye sight, improve the beauty of the hair, nails, skin and help one to look younger and gorgeous.
The chemicals that give brightly cloured food their visual appeal are the ones responsible for the beneficial nutrients. These chemicals are scientifically known as phytochemicals which include polyphenols, anthocyanins, and flavanoids.
Previously, these chemicals were thought to enrich the food plants with colour only. Following the advancement of technology, it is now scientifically established that these colourful compounds spell the quantity and quality of nutrients in the food.
A simple and memorable way to choose brightly coloured foods rich in nutrients is to make use of the colours of a rainbow.
This brings to memory a mnemonic we used in elementary school to remember the seven colours of a rainbow – ‘Richard (Red) of (Orange) York (Yellow) Gain (Green) Battle (Blue) in (Indigo) Vain (Violet)’
The first colour of a rainbow is red which considered being the colour that bestows stimulation, heat and excitement; it is associated with vitality, strength, passion and willpower. Red coloured foods are not left behind; they do wonders in fighting heart disease and cancers.
One of the most talked about red foods is tomato for its nutrient called lycopene that fights prostrate cancer. Lycopene-rich foods not only fight prostrate cancer they also prevent it from spreading.
Other red foods also contain powerful compounds called antioxidants that protect the body cells from dangerous radicals that cause cancer. The red groceries to add to your shopping basket include; red pepper, red salmon, red kidney beans, red lentils, strawberries, cherries and rhubarb
Orange is the color of passion, optimism and tolerance. All orange/yellow colored foods are rich in a very important compound called beta-carotene which is a source of Vitamin A.
Diets rich in vitamin A have been linked with lower risks of certain cancers and a lower risk of heart disease. Vitamin A also play key role in the health of the immune system, eyes, skin and bones. Moreover, Vitamin A helps in slowing the aging process and slows or stops the development of age-related diseases.
To maximize the health benefits add the following orange foods in your dinner plate; Carrots, sweet corn, pumpkin, apricots, mangoes, oranges, papaya and gooseberries
The fourth colour of the rainbow is green. Dark green coloured foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals. A winner nutrient in green foods is Lutein for its cancer fighting power. A highly regarded green food is a floret of broccoli which is known to be packed with Lutein and a plethora of nutrients such as vitamins A, C, K and fiber. The real power of broccoli lies in substances called isothiocyanates; which have been shown to stimulate the body’s production of its own cancer-fighting substances.
Care should be taken when preparing broccoli as certain cooking methods that involves large amounts of water such as boiling destroy cancer fighting nutrients.
Other dark green foods to go for are; kales, cabbages, spinach, lettuce, celery, leaks, scallions and Brussels sprouts among many others.
Everybody is talking about how blue/purple berries fight cancer and ageing especially the blue berries. Health benefits of blue/purple berries have made them one of the hottest topics among those who want to look young. In fact they are being studied a lot in anti-aging and cancer research. A potent mix of chemicals called flavonoids, tannins, and anthocyanins make blueberries one of the top antioxidant foods, ranking first among 40 antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. A number of studies have shown that blueberries appear to slow down and even reverse age-related degeneration.
Blue/purple foods to go for are purple fruits and vegetables such as blackberries, black cherries, black raspberries, black currants, plums, elderberries, bilberries, figs, raisins, eggplants, purple carrots, purple cabbage, beets, and pomegranates.
Indigo coloured foods are rare but where available they are rich in flavanoids which are important for better functioning of the eyes, nose and ears. They are also good for the skin.
Don’t forget to buy mushrooms, olives and soyabeans during your next visit to supermarket or local market.
The last colour of the rainbow is violet which is a mix of blue (spirituality) and red (passion), is considered regal, dignified, and exclusive. It is cooling, cleansing, antiseptic and soothing. Violet symbolizes creative imagination and spiritual attainment, and corresponds to psychic protection, artistry, and mystery.
Violet foods are rich in Vitamin D and they include; passion fruit, purple (Red) onions, purple cabbage, purple eggplant, purple plums and mulberries
Read the other 4 secrets in the next article.