Friday, May 16, 2014

9 "Magic" Foods to Heal Your Body

These vegan blood-cleansing foods will gently detox your system.

This salty paste is made from a bean (usually soy), sometimes a grain, salt, and a bacteria called koji. It's fermented, meaning it's full of live probiotics and enzymes. It acts like yogurt, but without the icky problems of dairy. Eating miso in soup—its most powerful, healing form—is great for digestion; is a huge boost for the immune system; is alkalizing to the blood; and packs some protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals. Basically, it keeps your body balanced and happy.
Treat yourself to homemade miso soup every day. Just make sure you're buying high-quality miso paste that's made with barley and aged at least 2 years. The powdered stuff isn't going to give you the same benefits, and the same goes for the soup served in Japanese restaurants. That miso's usually pasteurized (so the enzymes aren't alive anymore), and the broth is often super-salty, is made from fish stock, and may even contain MSG.
Pickled Veggies
Just like miso, these sour little fermented gems are full of live probiotics and enzymes that help your body absorb nutrients and put them to good use. They're also a boost for the immune system and act as antioxidants. The pickles that will do your body the most justice aren't the jarred dill variety you normally think of. In fact, most supermarket pickles aren't naturally fermented and are made with a lot of preservatives and unnecessary ingredients like sugar.
Look instead for unpasteurized pickles or sauerkraut in the refrigerated section of your health food store. Use them to add a tasty, tangy, crunchy, salty punch to any meal. Because these guys are pretty salty, though, don't go overboard and, if you can, rinse them lightly before digging in. You only need about a tablespoon each meal to reap the full benefits.
Umeboshi plums
These super-sour pickled plums are alkalizing to the blood, which means they help counteract acidity in your system—a major bonus if you're just starting to clean house. Eat a quarter of an umeboshi plum with your grains a few times a week and you'll also enhance your digestive health. The great news, too, is that these are pretty easy to find. Check out places like Whole Foods Market or your local natural or Asian market.
Burdock root
This long, brown root has an earthy flavor with just a tiny bit of sweetness. It has unbelievable restorative powers and is used to cleanse and purify the blood, support digestion, scrub away toxins, and even help lower blood sugar. It has more protein, calcium, and phosphorus than carrots and is a great source of potassium. 
Though it looks kind of like a huge white carrot, this miraculous veg is actually a member of the radish family. It's a natural diuretic, which is perfect for when you've been a little naughty. It has a spicy, pungent flavor when raw but becomes meaty and sweet when cooked. These have been popping up in more and more regular supermarkets, but your natural market or Asian market should have you covered.
Lotus root
In Chinese medicine, they say that foods that look like certain body parts are extra fortifying for those organs. Lotus root—which looks like a long, white tube—is a breath of fresh air for our bodies. It helps circulate and enrich our blood, gives us more energy, nurtures the heart, quiets digestive issues, supports the stomach, and flushes out toxins.
Chopped and steeped in hot water as a tea, it's a curative remedy for a chest cold or phlegmy cough. You'll most likely find lotus root in an Asian market, but make sure that the vegetable is cream colored—white lotus root may have been bleached.  
Sea vegetables
There's something almost mystical about these calcium- and mineral-loaded gifts from the ocean. Sea veggies like nori, hijiki, arame, wakame, and kombu are high in protein; alkalize and detoxify the blood; can reduce blood pressure and inhibit tumor growth; have anti-inflammatory properties; and are amazing for your hair, skin, teeth, and bones. Consider these guys an important medicinal food to be eaten a couple of times a week. They'll keep you glowing and beautiful and beyond healthy. Plus, they're so tasty.
Green leafies
Kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, watercress, and bok choy are not only loaded with minerals that make the blood strong and energized, but their chlorophyll can help you feel relaxed, open, and happy. They are really, truly a crucial part of your diet if you want to feel amazing. But please don't just throw greens in your smoothie and call it a day.
When plants get all ground up before we eat them, we assimilate them differently. Blending is not the same as chewing. Also, when you're adding them to a smoothie, you're probably adding in other sweet treats like fruit and sweeteners. While that's completely kosher every once in a while, it isn't the kind of pure, green loveliness you want to indulge in more often.
Adzuki, black beans, and black soybeans
In addition to giving you a leg up in the iron department, these members of the legume tribe are good for the adrenal glands, which in turn can help relieve stress on the body (and help you get pregnant!)
While all beans are amazingly good for you, these varieties pack an extra punch. Black soybeans can help cleanse your system if up until now you've been overdoing it on animal foods or baked flour goodies. Adzukis are known for their supercharged healing properties, especially for reproductive function, and black beans are the most antioxidant rich of the entire legume family. 

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