If you are trying to lose weight, you do need to reduce your calories to a level where you are expending more energy than you are consuming. This does not and should not mean starving your body of nutrients. If you do this your body will react by ceasing some functions such as reproduction, use up valuable muscle instead of fat and if you do then eat normally it will store food like crazy and you put weight back on plus some. Your immune system will be impaired and starvation results in damage to organs and cells leading to premature ageing.
You may already be including these foods in your diet but I would like you to connect with them in a different way. Instead of looking at fresh fruit and vegetables and imagining the taste, I want you to imagine the functions in your body that are going to benefit from the interaction with this food. If you do this you start eating differently, still enjoying the taste but also appreciating the natural gifts food can give you for your health and your longevity.
I am going to be talking about the humble Carrot, a vegetable most of us take for granted. If you are not eating these on a regular basis then please start to include at least three or four times per week.
Like many of the foods in my pharmacy, carrots have an ancient history originating in of all places Afghanistan. The Greeks and the Romans ate carrots and in fact the Greeks called the carrot ?Philtron? and used it as an aphrodisiac. Perhaps we won?t go into that in too much detail at this time of day but apparently it made men more ardent and women more yielding.
In Asia the carrot was an established root crop and was then introduced to Europe in the 13th century. It was the Middle Ages before the carrot became better known and doctors of the time prescribed carrots for numerous ills including snakebite. In those days the carrot was available in far more radiant colours including red, purple, black, yellow and white. They were cultivated together and over time it resulted in the orange vegetable we know today.
The Elizabethans on receiving the carrots from mainland Europe did some rather strange things with them. Some ate the roots but others used the feathery foliage for decoration in hats and on their clothes. I am sure like every fashion statement this may come and revisit us at some point. The colonists took the carrot to America but they were not really cultivated there until the last couple of centuries.
What are the health benefits of Carrots?
Carrots eaten as a fresh, raw and unprocessed food is full of nutrients including Vitamin A, beta carotene (turned into Vitamin A in the body), other carotenoids, B Vitamins, Vitamin C and minerals calcium and potassium. Of all of the nutrients Beta-Carotene and latterly Alpha Carotene are seen as the most important properties of the carrot. We have just looked at the benefits of the Beta Carotene but the Alpha carotene has often been overlooked. There have been some interesting studies in Japan indicating that Alpha carotene might be even more powerful than Beta-carotene in the fight against cancer.
There has been a great deal of research into the potency of phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables and evidence is beginning to stack up. For example broccoli contains Sulforaphane that may prevent or even cure breast cancer, citrus fruits contain limone, which increases the activity of enzymes that destroy carcinogens. Cabbage, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower contain indoles, which might lower the risk of breast cancer and of course tomatoes contain lycopene which has been linked to reduced risk of prostate cancer.
What Are The Effects Of Acidity In The Body?
Too much acid will decrease the energy production in the cells and the ability to repair damaged cells. The body is unable to detox heavy metals and that allows tumour cells to thrive. It will also cause a depressed immune system leaving the body wide open to infections.
Being mildly acidic can cause headaches, stomach problems and general fatigue but if the body continues to accumulate acid in tissues and blood stream far more serious health problems will develop such as degenerative diseases and cancer.
How Do Carrots Affect Our Acidity?
Carrot is an alkaline forming food that works with the pH in your body to ensure that safe levels are maintained.
The pH balance refers to the acidity or alkalinity of every living organism. The scale for measuring this balance is called Potential for Hydrogen or pH balance and each system or organ has its optimum balance for health. The scale goes from 0 to 14 with 7.0 being neutral with anything above 7 as alkaline and anything below 7 being acidic. Each step up or down is ten times the previous which means that even a change of .1 will have an effect on your body.
For example, human blood stays in a very narrow pH range between 7.35 and 7.45. If the balance goes either side of this there will be varying symptoms of disease. In fact if the pH level drops too much below 6.8 or above 7.8 the heart can stop.
All food is burned to an ash in the body. Food ash is neutral, acid or alkaline depending on the mineral content of the food. To be considered alkaline forming the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium are predominant. If it is acidic forming the ash will contain sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine.
In one of our programmes later in the challenge I will be looking at how having an overly acidic body can effect how quickly we age.
Apart from neutralising the overall acidity in your body, one of the areas that eating carrots or drinking carrot juice may help you is with acid stomach and it would certainly be healthier for you than consuming packets of antacid tablets. If you are suffering from urinary tract infections where the urine is acidic, carrot juice combined with cranberry juice (to prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the soft tissues) will help speed your recovery.
What Is The Story Behind Carrots And Horses?
We often feed carrots to horses as a treat but in fact racehorse breeders use carrots as part of the normal diet to increase performance and health in their animals. Who knows if you start including more carrots in your diet you may be eligible for the Grand National next year.
Should We Be Eating Our Carrots Raw?
As you know, I am a great fan of eating a high percentage of our diet raw. Carrots lose a great deal of their nutritional content if they are boiled for too long and eating them raw is also excellent for your teeth as they help keep them clear of plaque. I usually chop them up and put them in a raw vegetable salad and I also steam them for a few minutes until tender.
Another lovely way to eat them is mashed with some seasoning and a little milk or yoghurt. In the autumn they are also great mixed with parsnips. You can roast chunks in the oven with Mediterranean vegetables drizzled with a little olive oil and herbs.
Which ever way you choose to eat carrots they are certainly a very powerful way to get your Vitamin A.