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Rainbows and Unicorns?

Rainbows and Unicorns?

Eating fruits and vegetables in the color of the rainbow should not be mythical, unusual or elusive, but we do know it is quite magical for your health and vitality!

The symbiotic relationship with plants and humans is quite incredible. We humans can cultivate their growth and in return they provide abundant nutrients and phytochemicals to help nourish our bodies and keep us healthy, so that we can keep nourishing them as well.

When one eats plants in the “color of the rainbow’ every day, the health benefits are immense and actually necessary to resist disease and live healthier, longer lives.

The Science Behind the Rainbow Diet Fruits and vegetables are made up of phytonutrients, otherwise called "phytochemicals," which are compounds that give the plants their vibrant colors, distinctive tastes and smells. Phytonutrients or “Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs and other threats. These compounds also strengthen the immune systems of plants and protect them from diseases. Phytonutrients are not vitamins and minerals that the plant food contain, but are compounds that have cell signaling agents and messengers and have been found to have effects on inflammation, insulin sensitization, stress response, cancer cells and much more, which protect against disease. Some examples of are Phytonutrients are; Carotenoids, Ellagic acid, Flavonoids, Resveratrol, Glucosinolates and Phytoestrogens and these properties of phytonutrients are significant because of the major health benefits these functions provide when consumed by humans. All the colors of fruits and vegetables contain different phytonutrients with different functions. For example, green plants such as spinach, asparagus, and broccoli are found to have chemicals that work to support liver detoxification. On the other hand, orange and yellow plants, such as oranges, yellow peppers, and carrots contain chemicals that encourage intracellular communication which can help with vision and skin health. Chemical Compounds and their health benefits Dark leafy greens Chlorophyll, Carotenoids Cruciferous greens Sulforaphane, Glucosinolates, Indoles Found in: spinach, avocados, asparagus, artichokes, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, collard greens, green tea, green herbs (mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and basil) Benefits: liver support & detoxification, DNA repair, anti-cancer, improves vision, cardiovascular health and weight management Purple and Blue Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Anthocyanins Found in: blueberries, blackberries, elderberries, Concord grapes, raisins, eggplant, plums, figs, prunes, lavender, purple cabbage Benefits: memory, learning, mood, reducing inflammation and cardiovascular support Reds Betalains, Lycopene, Anthocyanins Found in: strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, tomatoes, cherries, apples, beets, watermelon, red grapes, red peppers, red onions Benefits: slowing aging, cardiovascular support, anti-cancer, reducing inflammation, reducing allergies and immune modulation White and brown Allicin, Anthoxanthins, Flavonols Found in: onions, cauliflower, garlic, leeks, parsnips, daikon radish, mushrooms Benefits: immunity, digestive tract health, metabolism, cardiovascular support and cancer prevention Orange and yellow Carotenoids Found in: carrots, sweet potatoes, yellow peppers, oranges, bananas, pineapple, tangerines, mango, pumpkin, apricots, winter squash (butternut, acorn), peaches, cantaloupe, corn Benefits: preventing oxidative stress, supports reproductive health, improves vision, skin and digestion health (see link below for a more extensive food chart with phytochemical properties & benefits) The Benefits of Eating a Rainbow Diet

  • Highly anti-inflammatory

  • Anti-oxidant properties

  • Offset pollutant toxicity

  • Improves immunity and resistance to infections

  • Reduces cardiovascular risk and disease (#1 killer in the United States)

  • Reduces abdominal fat (one of the most common complaints from my patients)

  • Increases Telomerase activity (Longevity)

  • Increases insulin sensitivity (reducing Diabetes risk)

  • Promotes a favorable impact on psychological health

  • Improves well-being

  • Decreases physiological distress

  • Increased happiness & life satisfaction

The Homo Sapiens' diet over 135,000 years had over 3000 plant species compared to the modern-day diet of 400 plant species, of which only about 100 are utilized for food presently. The lack of this diversity has negatively impacted our microbiome and overall health and well-being as a result. Only 9% of Americans are meeting the suggested intake of vegetables and 12% of Americans are meeting the suggested intake of fruits on a daily basis. No wonder we are so sick and vulnerable to viruses and disease!

The current recommendation is to take in a minimum of 2 ½ cups per day of vegetables and 2 cups fruit in various colors per day. How many fruit and vegetables do you take in per day? Have you ever considered the importance of incorporating a colorful plate of food to nourish your body properly?

Each day when you are considering your daily intake of fruit & vegetables, here are a few more suggestions for optimal health and nourishment.

  • Practice Mindful Eating

  • Chew 30-40 times per bite to stimulate proper acids to break down your food

  • Practice gratitude for the plants and nutrients you are receiving, as well as give gratitude for the soil, the water, the sunshine and the farmers who are working together to bring them to you

  • Consciously consume what your body needs on a daily basis and make sure your plate is more than halfway full of fruits and vegetables

  • Eat your veggies and fruit first and you will be surprised how sated you will feel and won't even have room for the "not so healthy foods"

If you practice these tools with every meal, you will likely have a feeling of vibrancy, vitality and nourishment in all ways!

To your health, vitality and longevity!

Carrie Ballas


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