Let food be thy medicine! Today we are going to explore 15 of my favourite healing foods, and dispel the myths surrounding some foods that have been wrongly demonised throughout recent history. These nutrient dense, high fat, real, whole foods nourish our body from the inside out by providing our cells with the building blocks they needs to thrive.
Many of the health-factor of these foods relies on the quality in which they were grown, harvested, and processed; not all eggs (cheese, butter, etc) are created equal. So let’s dive into these healing foods, and explore the key things to look out for to ensure they are indeed nourishing you!
Eggs are a health-food all-star, for so many reasons. To start, they contain a highly bioavailable source of protein, as well as hormone-healing cholesterol and saturated fats. The key with eggs is consuming only organic eggs, from pasture-raised chickens. The health benefits of eggs rely on the food and lifestyle that the chickens had. Chicken that are raised outdoors and given a humane, ethical life, is reflected in the nutritional quality of their eggs. Pasture raised eggs contain significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins E and A, and beta-carotene than caged eggs. Furthermore, non-organic caged eggs are often fed GMO grain, which results in illness, and the administration of harmful antibiotics.
The egg industry is a sneaky one, and marketing tricks are being used to fool the consumer into thinking their eggs might be healthier than they are. The term “free range” has been corrupted by these marketing companies, because “free range” simply means the chickens have access to a very small outdoor running area (which is often made of concrete). Don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding the quality of your eggs; visit the farms (or their websites), and ensure the eggs you are buying comes from chickens living truly outdoor lives, eating a natural diet of grass and bugs. Your yolks will be orange, and your body will thank you!
Cheese is another food whose health factor hinges on the quality of the raw ingredients, as well as the manufacturing process. First off, you want to make sure that your cheese is made from organic, grass-fed dairy. Like eggs, the quality of the dairy depends on what the animal ate and the quality of life it lived. Factory farmed cows that are fed GMO grain, fed hormones to increase their yield, and fed antibiotics to counteract the illnesses of living indoors will not provide you with nutritional cheese!
The processing of your cheese matters too. Cultured cheese is a natural fermentation process that retains all the beneficial vitamins and enzymes of your dairy, unlike most modern homogenized and pasteurized cheeses. When dairy is homogenized and pasteurized it undergoes a heating and manufacturing process that denatures the quality and availability of nutrients.
Also to do with the manufacturing process of the cheese, you want to opt for full-fat (as opposed to low-fat or fat-free varieties). Fat stores most of the micronutrients that make an organic, grass-fed dairy cheese so nutritious. The fat is also what helps our body properly absorb these nutrients. When we remove the fat (in the case of low fat products in general), we are left with not only a less flavourful, but also a less nutritious, and higher-carb cheese.
Like cheese, full-fat butter is loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, which are vital for cellular healing and function.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record: it’s important that your butter is made from grass-fed milk only! Grass-fed butter is delicious, and nutritious; whereas grain-fed, factory farmed butter is bland and lacks the nutritional density.
Yogurt is another hormone healthy fermented dairy that (like cheese and butter) requires a high quality grass-fed dairy. Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that is full of gut-healing probiotics and healthy fats.
Yogurt also contains a particularly potent probiotic superhero, called whey water. Whey water is the liquid that remains after making cultured dairy products like yogurt, and contains very unique bacteria that cannot be found in a probiotic or powder. This whey water boasts trillions of the beneficial bacteria! Whey water also contains the perfect ratio of sodium and potassium, which resets the way cells move toxins out and nutrients in, promoting balance at the cellular level. So don’t toss that precious liquid that sits on top of your yogurt! Stir it in!
Cream is the thick, fat-rich part of milk, which rises to the top when milk is fresh and is skimmed off. The type of cream is determined by its fat content. Heavy cream has a fat content between 36 and 40% fat, which means it is full of those hormone healthy, nutrient dense fats.
Choosing the best heavy cream follows the same principles as the aforementioned dairy: only buy heavy cream that was made with organic milk from grass-fed animals.
Coconut oil is an ancient healing food that has been used internally and externally for thousands of years. Coconut oil is linked to improved thyroid function, increased metabolism (resulting in weight-loss), increased immunity, and better heart health. It’s also anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and chock full of brain charging saturated fat.
The kind of saturated fat found in coconut oil is called lauric acid, and is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT), which is a special type of fatty acid that the body metabolizes more fully for energy than long chain fatty acids found in standard oils and fats. The fat content in coconut oil is approximately 60% MCTs. This fatty acid can also raise your good cholesterol levels. High-quality fat is crucial for cellular health because it provides the building blocks to heal the cell membrane. If your cell membrane is inflamed and poorly functioning, your health will be negatively affected and disease will eventually develop. By adding the right fats to your diet, you can heal the cell membrane and begin to heal disease in your body.
Chia seeds were a staple food of ancient Aztec warriors. The seeds contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids, and can help to control blood sugar and promote weight-loss. These seeds pack a nutritional punch with very low calories; they are loaded with antioxidants, are high in fibre, and in protein.
To improve the bioavailability (how much nutrients you can absorb) and ease digestion, soak the seeds in liquid (at least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight), before consuming them!
Kombucha is a naturally raw, fermented, bubbly tea beverage that is loaded with beneficial probiotics. Kombucha has been brewed by cultures for thousands of years, and its benefits include detoxification, strengthening the immune system, and improving digestion. The unique beverage is made from tea, water, sugar, and a bacteria culture which ferments the drink called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). The SCOBY is a living organism, akin to a starter bacteria culture used to make sourdough bread, kefir or yogurt. The sugar is a necessary ingredient for the SCOBY to feed upon and for fermentation to occur, but don’t worry: the sugar of a properly prepared kombucha is eaten by the live bacteria during the fermentation process.
Bone broth is a hot topic in the health industry right now, and food a good reason! Bone broth (or as your grandma used to call it: stock), is made by slowly simmering the bones until the minerals and amino acids are drawn out into the water, creating a rich and fatty broth.
Healthy animal bones are rich in valuable vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, and when consumed in stock form are easily recognized and absorbed by the body. Bone broth also contains gut-healing collagen, the base material of our cells which is integral to cellular regeneration and healing. Drinking the broth can improve the appearance of your skin and can even reduce cellulite!
The key here is making sure that the bones used are of the highest quality (from pasture raised animals), because the broth can be healing or harmful depending on how healthy the animal was. Bones store minerals, but they also store heavy metals- so make sure your bone broth is made from animals that led ethical lifestyles, and were fed organic, non-GMO feed (grass-fed is best).
100% Grass-Fed, Organic Beef
Humans have consumed meat since the dawn of time. Eating meat is not the problem: it is what man has done to the meat that is causing the real health concerns. Human beings can exist without carbohydrates, but cannot live without protein and fat. Grass-fed, organic beef provides our bodies with high quality protein, which is the building block of tissues and cells.
There is a significant distinction between conventionally produced meat and organic, grass-fed, pasture raised meat. The difference lies in the meat’s fatty acid ratio. A meat’s ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids affects our health more than the measure of the fatty acids themselves. When cows are fed a diet of GMO grain their fatty acid ratio changes and the good fats denature into bad fats. This imbalanced ratio causes health issues for those who regularly consume grain-fed meat, and commercial pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones, loaded in the meat further add to the toxic load.
Salt has been a part of the human diet since the beginning of time. Our blood is mostly made up of sodium (about 85%), thus salt is central to existence and cellular health. Salt is needed for numerous bodily functions, including nerve and muscle function and electrolyte balance. Benefits include blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, enhanced bone strength, and the stabilization of irregular heartbeats and sleep. Akin to whey water, salt contains sodium and potassium, which must remain in constant balance for our cells to function optimally and naturally detox.
Salt can be our friend or foe, depending on how it was processed. Table salt (traditionally found in most American homes and restaurants) is mined from underground salt deposits and is highly processed to remove valuable trace minerals. Modern iodized table salt is devoid of the many naturally occurring minerals in sea salt and contains toxic additives like fluoride and anti-caking agents. High-quality sea salt is hand-harvested from evaporated sea water, thus minerals from the water are left intact for consumption.
Kefir is a fermented beverage, and can be made with either water or milk. Either way, kefir is a probiotic rich beverage full of gut healing properties. Milk kefirs are one of the best ways to consume dairy, particularly goat milk kefir that is more easily digested by humans; they contain plenty of the saturated fat and cholesterol that your hormones need to operate optimally. You can either drink your water kefir as a spritzer, infused with flavours like fresh lemon or muddled berries; or you can use your milk kefir as a base for a rich and creamy smoothie!
Coffee is a controversial topic in the health realm, and indeed it can be highly beneficial or harmful depending on the quality and the process in which it was grown, harvested, and processed. Coffee is loaded with free-radical fighting antioxidants and brain-stimulating caffeine, and its benefits outweigh the risks, IF consumed the right way.
To get the benefits of coffee make sure to drink freshly ground, organic coffee. Most coffee sold in stores is at least eight weeks old and already stale, which lessens the valuable antioxidants it contains. Traditionally shade-grown coffee is also preferable because it develops half the acidity of conventional coffee. Of the two types of coffee called Robusta and Arabica, Robusta contains twice the acidity and caffeine content of Arabica, so choose Arabica beans when possible. It is also important to use only healthy sweeteners (like stevia, or erythritol) if desired, and to avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is a contains raw enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria, and can be used internally and externally for many healing purposes for thousands of years. To benefit from the healing power of apple cider vinegar, make sure you’re consuming raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized ACV. It should read clearly on the label, and you should be able to see floating matter at the bottom of the bottle (that is the “mother,” aka the live culture of the vinegar).
Turmeric contains a bioactive compound with powerful medicinal properties called Curcumin. This ancient healing spice with powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects and is linked to improved brain function.
It can be used to make a tea, in cooking, or taken as a curcumin-extract in the form of a supplement.
Food is information, and using food as medicine is a powerful way to support your body’s innate ability to generate vibrant health. Many foods have been demonised over the years, but by following ancestral principals, we have come to understand that organic, unprocessed foods, in their ancestral form are the building blocks of a healthy body. Diet is just one of the many keys to getting healthy, for more information on a holistic nutrition diet, visit DrPompa.com