When it comes to women’s health, diet is the foundation for prevention and maintenance of a healthy and happy life. However, high rates of preventable chronic diseases are an unfortunate sign that millions of women are ignoring their greatest health resource: food. In fact, it’s quite simple!
Your body is equipped with an extensive and strong set of defenses, capable of preventing a multitude of diseases. All you must do is supply those defenses and processes with the right fuel and you will be ready to take on the world, with a smile! So, if you are ready to supply your body with immune fuel and enjoy doing it, try raising your own greens! It’s easy, fun and delicious, and science has shown that greens are perhaps the best dietary way to prevent many women’s health issues like osteoporosis, anemia, heart disease and cancer.
However, in order to make homegrown greens a habit and not just another phase, it helps to know whyyou need them and how each mouthful adds strengthto your body. Then, when you realize that you can’t go days without spinach, kale, collards chard or lettuce, you can follow some simple steps to create your own garden (pharmacy) to grow your own greens (medicine).
As a woman, you have probably been warned several times about the dangers of osteoporosis,where bones become excessively fragile and are easily fractured. One of the greatest preventative measures to protect your bones is to consume adequate amounts of vitamin C. According to Nutritional Concerns of Women, “Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of…the main component of bone. Therefore, a vitamin C deficiency could contribute to the development of osteoporosis.” Fortunately, vitamin C is one of those nutrients you can easily grow in your backyard pharmacy. Just one cup of chopped kale, a tasty little green, provides 134% of your daily vitamin C! That’s just one cup! With that vitamin C, you will also get a healthy dose of necessary micronutrients like copper and magnesium, proven to combat osteoporosis.
When it comes to cancer prevention and diet, nothing is more important than consuming adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables.
So, what else can you grow in your back yard?
One nutrient that is often overlooked but no less important is folate. It is a mineral that can lead to a condition called macrocytic anemia, if there is a deficiency in your body. Symptoms of anemia include dizziness, fatigue and insomnia. According to Northwestern University, the “risk of folate deficiency is highest among women.” Luckily, one of the best sources of folate is obtained from green, leafy vegetables. Folate is especially high in collards, a vigorous green that is part of the “crucifer” family. Greens like collards and kale not only provide folate, but a host of other plant nutrients called antioxidants that are foundational in the prevention of heart disease.
Antioxidants are compounds that help maintain order within the body and are available in many different forms, including vitamin A and vitamin C. According to Nutritional Concerns of Women, with respect to Coronary Heart Disease, “the primary dietary risk factors involved in the cause or prevention of this disease include dietary antioxidants.” Antioxidants act against heart disease by preventing bad cholesterols from entering a form where they can damage the inside of blood vessels. So where can you get antioxidants like vitamin A? You don’t need an expensive pill or dietary supplement, all you need is one cup of steamed swiss chard from your garden and you will have consumed 214% of your recommended daily vitamin A intake. The benefits of this degree of nutrient density, however, extend beyond heart disease.
When it comes to cancer prevention and diet, nothing is more important than consuming adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. It is imperative that a person consumes at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The national institute of health has claimed “people who consume 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily have about one-half the cancer risk of those who consume fewer than 2 servings.” The best vegetables to consume for cancer prevention are those with the deepest and most vibrant colors, like dark green spinach or bright orange carrots. The pigments that generate these colors are called phytonutrients, and are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Now that you know why greens are so important, take it a step further and grow them yourself. The benefits of growing your own greens are immense and go far beyond nutrition.
While they could fill an entire book, a few are worth naming. First of all, building and maintaining your garden will provide you with a form of exercise and will get you off the couch and into the sun. Kneeling down and digging your hands into the earth helps you feel more connected to nature, and this can positively affect your outlook on life. Finally, you are taking responsibility for your own food production. This will reveal just how powerful and self-sufficient you can be, leading to a greater sense of ownership over yourself and the food choices you make in your future. Declare your food independence.
Here’s to your healthy future!
The GoGreen Gardener