Last month I posted a general article about Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritional advice. If you haven’t read that article, I suggest you click here first before continuing. In that article, I describe his theory of Nutritarianism and include photos of his food pyramid and nutrition food plate. You may be thinking, “OK, that’s all well and good, I know I need to eat more vegetables, whole grains, fruit, blah blah blah… but how do I make sure to incorporate what I really need into my diet every day?” Because let’s face it. We all aren’t going to stop eating Doritos and replace them with bok choy overnight.
“G-BOMBS” is an acronym you can use to remember the most nutrient-dense and health-promoting foods on earth. Dr. Fuhrman tells us that these are foods you should have in your diet every day, and should make up a significant portion of your diet. Not only will you drop the pounds you’ve gained from those Doritos, feel better, and look better, but you will also prevent all sorts of cancer!
G is for Greens
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(I thought this photo of kale was pretty hilarious)
Raw, leafy greens are the most nutrient-dense of all foods. They contain only about 100 calories per pound and can be consumed in unlimited quantities. The majority of calories in green vegetables, including leafy greens, come from protein, and this plant protein is packaged with beneficial phytochemicals: folate (the natural form of folic acid), calcium, and small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Leafy greens are also rich in antioxidant pigments called carotenoids which are known to promote healthy vision, and contain substances that protect blood vessels, and are associated with reduced risk of diabetes.
Some examples of leafy greens are bok choy, broccoli, and kale. These are all part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which have a unique chemical composition—they contain glucosinolates, and when their cell walls are broken by blending, chopping or chewing, a chemical reaction converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs)—compounds with a variety of potent anti-cancer effects. ITCs also work to remove carcinogens, reduce inflammation, neutralize oxidative stress, inhibit angiogenesis (the process by which tumors acquire a blood supply), and kill cancer cells.
Some ways I incorporate leafy greens into my diet isn’t just with salads, but I also add them to smoothies (with berries – see below), and I’ve even put kale on home-made pizza. It’s actually soooo good! Check out the recipe here: sweet potato pizza with kale and caramelized onions.
B is for Beans
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Beans (and other legumes as well) are the most nutrient-dense carbohydrate source. They act as an anti-diabetes and weight-loss food because they are digested slowly, having a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, which helps to prevent food cravings. Plus they contain soluble fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels. Beans are unique foods because of their very high levels of fiber and resistant starch, which not only reduce the total number of calories absorbed from beans, but are also fermented by intestinal bacteria into fatty acids that help to prevent colon cancer. Eating beans, peas or lentils at least twice a week has been found to decrease colon cancer risk by 50%. Legume intake also provides significant protection against oral, larynx, pharynx, stomach, and kidney cancers.
Beans are where I get most of my protein. I make a lot of burritos, chili, and black bean burgers.
O is for OnionsEmbed from Getty Images
Onions, along with leeks, garlic, chives, shallots, and scallions, make up the Allium family of vegetables, which have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as anti-diabetic and anti-cancer effects. Similar to the ITCs in cruciferous vegetables, Alliums contain organosulfur compounds which are released when onions are chopped, crushed or chewed. Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of Allium vegetables is associated with lower risk of gastric and prostate cancers. These compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens, halting cancer cell growth, and blocking angiogenesis. Onions also contain quercetin, which slows tumor development, suppresses growth and proliferation and induces cell death in colon cancer cells. Flavonoids also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.
I don’t know if you love onions and garlic as much as I do, but I basically put them in everything I make. Caramelizing onions basically turns them into candy! Try adding red onions on top of your salad, in burritos or tacos, or omelets. I feel like most dishes incorporate garlic, but do you know how to roast garlic? OMG: How to Roast Garlic. You can literally just eat garlic by itself after roasting, or put it on toast, or add it to pasta.
M is for Mushrooms
Consuming mushrooms regularly can help decrease risk of breast, stomach, and colorectal cancers. Dr. Fuhrman references one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (about one mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer. Even more dramatic protection was gained by women who ate 10 grams of mushrooms and drank green tea daily—an 89% decrease in risk for premenopausal women, and 82% for postmenopausal women, respectively. White, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms all have anti-cancer properties—some are anti-inflammatory, stimulate the immune system, prevent DNA damage, slow cancer cell growth, cause programmed cancer cell death, and inhibit angiogenesis. Mushrooms are unique in that they contain aromatase inhibitors (compounds that can block the production of estrogen). These compounds are thought to be largely responsible for the preventive effects of mushrooms against breast cancer. In fact, there are aromatase-inhibiting drugs on the market that are used to treat breast cancer. Please note: mushrooms should only be eaten cooked: several raw culinary mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, and cooking mushrooms significantly reduces their agaritine content.
Out of all of these foods, I’m more “meh” about mushrooms. So in looking for ways to incorporate them into my diet, I first found this really helpful Guide to Mushrooms, which gives a short description of each type of mushroom, how to choose them, how to prepare them, how to store them… basically everything you need to know. Also, Oh My Veggies (my favorite food blog if you couldn’t tell by now), has this amazing list of recipes that incorporate mushrooms with pictures!
B is for BerriesEmbed from Getty Images
Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods, containing more antioxidants of any other food on the planet. Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients and therefore among the best foods you can eat. Their antioxidant content produce both cardioprotective and anti-cancer effects, such as reducing blood pressure, inflammation, preventing DNA damage, inhibiting tumor angiogenesis, and stimulating of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Berry consumption has been linked to reduced risk of diabetes, cancers and cognitive decline. Berries are also an excellent food for the brain, as consumption improves both motor coordination and memory.
My favorite way to add berries to my diet is for breakfast, either in a smoothie or a parfait. The Jillian Michaels program got me hooked on those! Basically all you need is:
- Plain low fat/fat free greek yogurt
- Nature’s Path flax cereal (or any granola)
- Fresh blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, or raspberries (basically any berries you have on hand that day)
In small bowl or pint glass, place 1/8 cup yogurt to line the bottom. Layer 1/2 cup cereal, 1 cup of each assorted berries, 1 tsp honey. (I just eyeball it.) Cover with another layer of yogurt. So fast, easy, and good.
S if for SeedsEmbed from Getty Images
Seeds and nuts contain healthy fats and are rich in a spectrum of micronutrients, including phytosterols, minerals, and antioxidants. Countless studies have demonstrated their cardiovascular benefits, and how including nuts in the diet aids in weight maintenance and diabetes prevention. Seeds are also abundant in trace minerals and are higher in protein than nuts. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are extremely rich sources of omega-3 fats. In addition to the omega-3s, flaxseeds are rich in fiber and lignans. Flaxseed and sesame seed consumption protects against heart disease by a number of different mechanisms, and lignans, which have anti-cancer effects. Sunflower seeds are especially rich in protein and minerals. Pumpkin seeds are rich in iron and calcium, and are a good source of zinc. Sesame seeds have the greatest amount of calcium of any food in the world, and provide abundant amounts of vitamin E. Also, black sesame seeds are extremely rich in antioxidants. The healthy fats in seeds and nuts also aid in the absorption of nutrients when eaten with vegetables.
I incorporate seeds and nuts by throwing them on my salad. I also add flaxseed to smoothies, and eat handfuls of nuts as a snack. (Think of if you had a smoothie with berries, kale, and flaxseed every morning—you would be basically giving cancer the finger).
If you want to learn more about G-BOMBS, check out Dr. Fuhrman’s book Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free. (I haven’t read it, but I trust this guy!)
What is Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet? Dr. Fuhrman. Retrieved Feb. 26, 2015 fromhttp://www.drfuhrman.com/library/what-is-a-nutritarian-diet.aspx.
Fuhrman, Dr. Joel. (2014.) Interview by John Robbins [recording]. Why be a Nutritarian. Six Weeks to a Healthy Kitchen course.