I decided it would be great to get one of our naturopaths to talk about what superfoods are really good for fertility and health. And I was surprised by the outcome of our discussion – though of course on reflection, it makes complete sense! It seems that while some foods are indeed more super than others, there is no such thing as a miracle food. Getting the basics right is the most important step and there are some superfood basics that are still commonly over looked by many people.
I saw a great example of this the other day at a big shopping centre where I was trying to find something decent to eat (not an easy task!). I noticed a fast food retailer offering a “superfood” kebab which included acai, goji, quinoa and other additions. This same retailer also sells chips and soft drinks, fatty meat, fried foods and kebabs! It really made me cross. I think this is such gimmicky and cynical marketing and certainly not the way that superfoods are best utilized. It gives superfoods a bad name and as well as an undeserved reputation!
There is a lot of talk about superfoods and all the amazing things they have to offer for just about every conceivable human ailment and worry. From Cacao to Gubinge, Maca to Goji and Acai the promises include increased fertility, cures for cancer, recovery from all sorts of disease, anxiety and woe. Certainly these foods have so much to offer and definitely can be considered to be powerful, nutrient dense foods with super qualities.
However, they fall short of being miracle foods. No amount of goji berries is going to make up for the 2 or 3 coffees or cokes you might drink in a day or if you gorge on junk food week after week. If you haven’t got the basics covered, superfoods are not your miracle cure-all for a modern-day poor lifestyle.
While superfoods can be fantastic, we are big believers in the necessity of getting the basics right – eating whole live food as close to their fresh form as possible, preferably locally grown or even better straight from your garden: vegies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, pulses, grains, meat, fish and dairy. Lots of quite simple foods actually have incredibly super qualities that should be taken advantage of daily. Consider blue berries, salmon, oats, green leafy vegies and garlic just to name a few. To be super, food does not necessarily need to be exotic. For example, eating a seasonal diet ensures that the foods you do consume are as fresh as possible and are consumed when they are picked – not after they have been stored for a year or two. Truly super eating is actually quite simple. The foods we most commonly refer to as super foods (spirulina, maca, goji, acai, etc.) are really just the cherry on top!
Superfoods are a useful and highly beneficial addition to your diet. But of course, as always, there is no quick fix and no way around eating the basic super foods every meal, every day for ultimate health and a fertile life! Without this basis the other stuff is little more than a gimmick.
Here are our tips for the daily essential top super foods for fertility and health!
Chia is an important addition to your diet if you aren’t already eating it. It is gluten free and as well as being high in fibre, it absorbs water to form a gelatinous texture which is very soothing and healing to our digestive tract. Chia contains eight times more Omega 3 than salmon, more calcium than dairy, is high in iron as well as vitamin c, potassium and antioxidants. Best of all chia seeds are a complete protein containing all 8 essential amino acids. Athletes find Chia seeds improve endurance and hydration as well as maintaining blood sugar levels. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons daily.
Packed full of antioxidants! Blueberries are low in sugar so are a low GI fruit, great for women with PCOS or people trying to lose weight. They are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, manganese and Vitamin K. Best of all, they taste delicious! Be careful to choose organic with berries as they are commonly sprayed as bugs really like berries too. And look for local berries as many berries available in major supermarkets have been shipped from across the globe, often China, which makes it harder to ensure the freshness and quality of your final product.
Green leafy vegetables
Including silverbeet, spinach, rocket, kale, lettuce, parsley, coriander, mint, etc. These foods are a good source of fibre as well as being high in important vitamins A, B, C, K and folate. They are essential for women who are preparing for pregnancy or are pregnant as they contain folinic acid, which is the most absorbable form of folate. Maximize your daily intake with a green smoothie!
Free range, organic eggs are one of our best sources of protein, vitamin D, B12, zinc, phosphorus and selenium. Yes, they contain cholesterol, so if it is a problem for you, take fish oil at the same time to lessen the absorption of cholesterol. Also, as part of a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and high in healthy fats, a little cholesterol is required. Cholesterol has been painted as the bad guy but it is also what our hormones are synthesized from. If Cholesterol is an issue, check with your naturopath about how to use food to regain control!
Organic, full-fat unflavoured yoghurt contains calcium, good fats and ‘friendly bacteria’ to keep your digestive system healthy. Have a serve of yoghurt daily to keep your immune system strong. Should this be just yogurt or yogurt and fermented foods?
While technically a seed, quinoa cooks up like a grain and unlike most (even whole) grains Quinoa is a complete protein i.e. it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It also contains more fibre than other grains, and is rich in essential fatty acids, iron, lysine (great if you suffer from cold sores), magnesium, B2 and manganese. Quinoa is also gluten free. It is a significantly better grain choice than pasta or even brown rice due to its protein and nutrient content.
One of the richest sources of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. It’s also high in protein, selenium and B vitamins, especially B12. Eat it with the bones for the added bonus of calcium! Most of the salmon in Australia is farmed but the best source is Huon Tasmanian salmon. Go to http://www.huonaqua.com.au/locator to find your nearest stockist.
High in soluble fibre, oats eaten daily have been shown to lower and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure. They improve bowel function and are a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and selenium – all the best nutrients for fertility! Oats are also considered to be a ‘nervine tonic’ in herbal medicine which means they are useful for calming and nourishing your nervous system.
Researchers from UCLA in California found that men who ate a couple of handfuls of walnuts (75gms) a day saw improvements in their semen quality. They found improvements in sperm motility and morphology and the suggestion is that it is because walnuts are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (an Omega-3). Other benefits are brain and heart health with these great fats. Be sure the walnuts taste fresh and are organic.
Superfoods are a useful and highly beneficial addition to your already amazing diet. But of course, as always, there is no quick fix and no way around eating the basic superfoods every meal, every day for ultimate health! Without this basis the other stuff is little more than a gimmick.