Indian Mythology very emphatically states that nutrition shapes the mind and personality of a person. Modern science has validated this Vedic (an Indian epic) maxim by establishing a direct link between nutrition and brain development.
A recent survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that:
- 80% of obese children grow into obese adults and are twice as likely to develop heart disease.
- One out of every six adolescents is overweight.
- Two out of every five Americans has high cholesterol and / or diabetes.
- One out of every three teenagers has bad eyesight.
- One out of every five children has stress-related disorders.
What causes this? Why are these numbers rising steadily? The answer is poor health related to nutrition. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Centre, Baltimore, the causes of degenerative diseases, obesity, psychological disorders are all attributable to the chemicals and preservatives in our food. Children ingest a cocktail of chemicals everyday with their food – pesticides, artificial sweeteners, synthetic flavors, and preservatives. These adversely affect their mental and physical health. Some effects may be immediate and others may manifest in adulthood. If children eat food free from toxic chemicals, mental powers, memory and attention span can be heightened.
A recent US National Research Council report titled, “Pesticides in the Diet of Infants and Children”, revealed that children are more at risk than adults to being exposed to pesticides in their diet. The report revealed the impacts from pesticides ingested by infants included cancer, low immunity, impaired neurological development, endocrine disorders, low sperm count and reproductive abnormalities. Exposure to heavy metals like lead, cadmium or mercury through food is leading to reduced learning and memory as well as impaired functioning of the central nervous system in children. Chemicals, preservatives, growth hormones, colors and additives create problems that even the most expensive medical technology cannot repair.
Because of the toxins present in our food supply, the children of today suffer from allergies, headaches, stiff joint, back pain, constipation, respiratory disorders, lethargy / lack of energy, hyperactivity, problematic emotional states, periodic depressions, and anxiety. Another side effect is the early onset of puberty in girls. The expected age for young ladies to receive their menses has been practically reduced to 9 or 10 as opposed to 12 or 14 in previous years. This has resulted in truncated childhood not to mention mental trauma and has played havoc with the reproductive system.
Below is list of commonly available foods that are truly super foods and extremely beneficial to our bodies at all ages:
- Broccoli/Cabbage/Cauliflower: Contain vitamins C, A, beta carotene and fiber. They are also known for their cancer fighting properties.
- Carrots: Provide enough beta carotene to reduce the risk of stroke by half for men who already have symptoms of heart disease, plus they are excellent for strengthening the eyes.
- Chili Peppers: The heat source in chilies, capsaicin, is an antioxidant. Contains blood thinning properties to prevent strokes, lowers cholesterol, protects DNA against carcinogens, may stimulate release of endorphins ("natural high" chemicals), plus capsicum is known to fight arthritis.
- Spinach/ Leafy greens: Contains vitamins A and C, folic acid and magnesium which help control cancer, reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke, blocks free radicals and helps prevent osteoporosis.
- Mushrooms: Contain beta-glucan, which stimulates the immune system. Shitake, enoki, zhuling and reship all have anti-cancer and antiviral properties.
- Tomatoes: Contain lycopenes - an antioxidant more potent than vitamin C. Stimulates immune function and may slow degenerative diseases, excellent for prostate cancer.
- Strawberries: Contains ellagic acid, which contains anti-cancer properties very good for diabetes as it is low in glycemic index.
- Papaya, Pineapple and Kiwi: High amounts of enzymes that help combat everything from autoimmune diseases and allergies to cancer and AIDS.
- Mangoes: Contains bioflavonoid that aids the immune system.
- Bananas: Rich in magnesium (helps protect circulatory system), potassium and slowly-absorbed sugars. Good source of pectin (a soluble fiber). Prevents radical swings in blood sugar.
- Soybeans and Tofu: Lowers LDL cholesterol levels in bloodstream which reduces the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat soy products have reduced risk or lower rates of prostate, colon, and lung cancer.
- Salmon: Contains omega-3 oils to fight heart disease plus calcium, magnesium, protein and B-vitamins which are great for the body.
Roma Kapadia is a freelance writer from Mumbai. For the last eight years, she has been writing lifestyle pieces for several online publications including MSN India and Savvy. Roma loves to write about food, health & wellness, relationships and travel. In addition to her BA in English Literature and advanced degree in Journalism, Roma also holds a certification in Tarot Card Reading.
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