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Nourishment: Nutrient-Rich Foods
Monday, June 8th, 2009

Nuchi gusui

Food should nourish life. This is the best medicine.

(Okinawan Proverb & Dietary Guidelines)

For several years now I have been enthralled with the Okinawan culture in Japan and their elderly.  I have been fascinated with Okinawans who are in their “hundreds” not because they are old, but because of how young they are literally in their heart, mind and body.

Now I don’t know about you but I don’t really want to live to be hundred something unless I am having fun, healthy and can make use of the wisdom I would have hopefully gained from living a century.  I love this piece National Geographic did on longevity several years back and still have the original cover picture of an elderly Okinawan gentleman doing a head-stand to remind me of what is possible if healthy habits are formed and sustained.

I believe daily healthy habits are really personal.  Each one of us is going to have a separate winning combo of how we exercise, feel connected (to the world and/or divinity) and of course how we eat.

I was at a conference this week and the speaker said something that has stayed with me, “pausing is powerful.”  I think that holds true in all realms of life but especially with food.  What if we did pause and consider our food.  What if we think for even a few seconds about the food we eat & what it offers our body before we inhale it?  Does it taste good to us?  Can we take a few minutes to mindfully chew our food so that the body receives the full nutrition benefits from proper digestion?

I like the concept of considering food as fuel for the body.  Yogis since the beginning of time have “eaten to live and not lived to eat.”  I think food can be thought of as fuel and still be savored.  After all, food that is nutrient-rich is also beautiful as one can see in this great My Daily Bread blog and should be fully appreciated.

In order to gradually change the mindset of improving the fuel we supply our body we have to be realistic.  That is why I love the nutrient-rich concept of knowing what foods to choose first from each of the food groups and at least have a general idea of what these foods provide our body.

Simple Tips on Choosing Beautiful Nutrient-Rich Foods

  • Brightly-colored fruits & 100% fruit juice  (provides a lot of vitamin C)
  • Vibrantly-colored vegetables & potatoes (provides fiber, vitamin A, B6, potassium, copper)
  • Whole, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods (carbohydrates, thiamin, folate, iron, magnesium)
  • Lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, beans & nuts (protein, vitamin B6, niacin, zinc)
  • Low-fat & fat-free milk, cheese, yogurt & kefir (riboflavin, B12, calcium, phosphorus)
  • Fats and Oils (essential fats and vitamin E)

I love this way of eating nutrient-rich foods because it feels simple and nourishing.  In general, the Okinawans do the same and they also take the time to prepare and present the food they eat with care.  Nourishing food is about eating everything in moderation and thinking in terms of variety and color.

Pausing a moment can allow one to truly taste the textures and mindfully know that this fuel (food) is what the body needs to help its immunity work optimally, brain to function intelligently & heart to pump steadily.

Reference:  Willcox, B & Willcox D.C.  The Okinawa Program

What Foods Nourish You?

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