How eating these foods can prevent disease.

By Dr. Adrienne YoudimAdrienneIf we have learned anything from 2020, it is that prevention matters! Prevention for coronavirus means wearing a mask, washing our hands and maintaining physical distance. But what about long term strategies to maintain good health? Long after this pandemic is over (and yes it will be over!) we can still make small changes that have a big impact on our health and wellbeing. As an internist and a physician nutrition specialist, I see every day how small changes in our diet and nutrition has a big impact on our health and wellbeing. I define diet broadly to include not only nutrition but also movement, nature, sleep and play. All of these factors play an important role in your health.

But let’s focus on nutrition and specifically on functional ingredients. Functional ingredients are foods and nutrients that are believed to have a health-promoting effect or property. Often (but not always) these ingredients are plant based, and contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

One example of a functional ingredient is ashwagandha. This is my personal favorite nutraceutical of the year! Ashwagandha has long been used in Aruvedic medicine as an adaptogen- a nutrient that helps the body adapt to stress. Studies have shown ashwagandha to be helpful to promote sleep, to support cognitive health and to support healthy mood particularly in terms of anxiety and seriously who can’t benefit from reduced anxiety these days, right?! I love ashwagandha so much that I have incorporated it into Dehlbar– a high protein low calorie nutrition bar ideal as a healthy snack.

Another example of a functional ingredient is turmeric. Turmeric is used as a spice in so many cuisines across the world. My own middle eastern cuisine incorporates turmeric in many authentic dishes and it is a staple in my pantry! I also use turmeric in my morning coffee. If you have not tried it you must! The health benefits of turmeric include support of the cardiovascular system, metabolic support, inflammation and healthy joints- just to name a few!

While western medicine has not emphasized functional ingredients, they are heavily relied upon in other cultures and practices and are now starting to infiltrate our consciousness as well! You may find that you are already using functional ingredients in your diet. If so, yay you! If not, now is a great time to explore. As I always tell my patients, make it matter, by eating what truly nourishes and serves you. Ancient wisdom has so much to teach us. I hope this will help you incorporate ancient wisdom into your personal health practices to eat well and live well!

In good health.