It took me a long time to look in the mirror and actually like what I saw. When puberty hit I started feeling really insecure with my physical appearance. I wasn’t particularly bad-looking, but still I used to get anxious thinking people were judging me because of how I dressed or how I used to wear my hair.
I started using drugs and alcohol as a way to fit in and be more outgoing. But the more I consumed these substances, the more I started gaining weight, and that only made my self-esteem problems worse. This, combined with a series of mental health issues, eventually turned into a vicious cycle in which I would get drunk or high to avoid certain feelings. It wasn’t long before I was addicted.
At 23 I finally checked into a drug rehabilitation center. When I got there I was overweight and had several health problems, such as a slow liver and a weak respiratory system. Needless to say, I wasn’t a big fan of myself back then. But rehab was a place where I started making better decisions for both my physical and mental health, and, as a result, my self-esteem slowly got better.
One of the things I learned there and which has helped me ever since, was the many benefits of superfoods. Superfoods are foods that are nutritionally dense and good for your health. Eating a diet based on superfoods helped me through my weight loss process, it improved my mental health, made me more energetic, and overall healthier. Today I would like to share 5 superfoods and their respective health benefits with you.
Thanks to their healthy fat and fiber content, flax seeds are great for weight loss -they improve your digestion and boost up your metabolism-. Flaxseeds contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids along with lignans, an antioxidant substance that helps promote hormonal balance. Some preliminary studies suggest that these substances found in flax seeds can help fight heart disease, several types of cancer and diabetes.
Flax seeds can be added to drinks such as smoothies (grounded, 1-3 tablespoons) without affecting their flavor. You can also add them to homemade muffins, bread and cookies, or you can mix it with water and use it as an egg substitute in vegan recipes.
Although it is rarely included among top superfoods lists, I think it deserves a place in this one. Not only because I love the taste, but because of many scientifically backed reasons:
First of all, grapefruit has a high content of vitamin C, which is great for maintaining healthy skin. It is also high in antioxidants, which help protect the body’s cells from damage, and fiber, which promotes intestinal health.
Furthermore, grapefruit has been proven to help the weight loss process: a study with 91 obese patients showed that those who consumed grapefruit on a regular basis lost significantly more weight than those who consumed a placebo.
It isn’t technically a food, but considering the many benefits it brings to your health, it definitely deserves a spot among our superfood list. Green tea has been used in traditional Asian medicine for centuries, and with good reason.
Not only is green tea calorie-free, but it is also an important source of antioxidants. Research suggests that it can help prevent and fight several types of cancer. It is also associated with a lower risk of stroke, lower cholesterol and fighting inflammatory skin diseases.
This one is the only animal-based food on my top 5 superfood list. Don’t worry, you don’t have to become a vegetarian in order to have a superfood rich diet, there are more animal-based superfoods, such as grass-fed beef and eggs, but today I would like to talk about wild salmon.
You may already have heard about salmon’s high content of omega 3 fatty acids. They contribute to a healthy brain and heart function, and health in general. It can also help protect you against some kinds of cancer, as well as many chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, among others.
But salmon doesn’t just have omega 3 fatty acids, it is also a great source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals, including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12.
Quinoa is a small seed native to South America, which became universally popular about five years ago. According to experts, quinoa is one of the only plants that contains a complete protein, meaning that it provides all the essential amino acids our body needs. Quinoa is also gluten-free and contains more healthy compounds that most foods, so it is a great substitute for free grains like rice and corn when you’re trying to add fiber and nutrients to your diet.
Nowadays, you can find quinoa in snack bars and other processed products, but I personally prefer to eat it as a whole food, since it can lose many of its nutrients when processed. I usually eat it at lunch or dinner, and I like to prepare it with sauteed vegetables or lean meat.
9 years after getting out of rehab and living a healthy life, eating a superfood-based diet and exercising regularly, I can finally say that when I look in the mirror I love what I see. I am currently at a healthy weight, I have healthy looking skin, I have the energy to take on everyday’s challenges and I am known among my friends and colleagues for my positive attitude. Even though this doesn’t only depend on my diet, I know it does make a great difference.
Making some changes to what you eat daily can be just what you need to start losing weight and becoming healthier. Adding these 5 superfoods to your diet is a great way to start.
Do you have any questions about superfoods and your health? Please feel free to ask or suggest something in the comments below.