We’ve all heard it hundreds of times — we have to get enough vegetables in our diets to keep us healthy. I don’t know about you, but I even count french fries as vegetables when I’m feeling really guilty. So if we know that veggies are healthy and good for us, why don’t we eat them all the time? That question I can’t answer (I’ll leave it up to the psychologists and dieticians of the world). But what I can answer is what vegetables can do for us, and the answer is something amazing.
Dr. Terry Wahls, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, found out some pretty incredible things about the food we eat on her journey to cure herself of her own chronic disease, multiple sclerosis. In her book, “Minding My Mitochondria: How I overcame secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and got out of my wheelchair,” she details her journey from a wheelchair-dependent patient who could walk only short distances with two canes, to being fully physically functional, to the point where she actually biked 18 miles the following year.
The secret to her successful recovery? Her study of brain cell biology and the vitamins and minerals that her cells needed to function. As a medical doctor, she already knew that each cell had tiny mitochondria inside that helped it to function properly, and that myelin was necessary to insulate our brain cells and all of our nervous system’s connective wiring. She learned that taking B vitamins, sulfur and antioxidants would help the cells do their job. Originally she took supplements to get what she needed, but then realized that if she got the necessary nutrients from food, she would also take in thousands more nutrients whose benefits she did not even know.
So she designed a diet that would provide optimum brain function. And guess what the main component of her diet was? That’s right — vegetables, and not just your garden variety either (pun intended).
She recommends eating greens like kale and parsley, which are chock full of nutrients. She also recommends eating what she calls “color” vegetables — peppers, carrots and beets, and also eating lots of berries — like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. Finally, she rounds out her diet with wild fish and grass-fed meat, to make up what she calls a “hunter-gatherer” diet — in essence, the same things that the human race has been eating for 2.5 million years.
And she doesn’t recommend eating small amounts of these fruits and veggies either — three cups of each category every day — that’s nothing to sniff at.
To find out more about her diet, click here.
The bottom line is this: Veggies are not only good for us, they are also the building blocks that our body uses to function and should be treated as necessary items to eat each day. And though we might spend more on all these exotic veggies now (yes, a head of kale does cost more than a can of Spam), Wahl says that we’ll save in the long run, not having to pay for expensive drugs, doctor visits, and even nursing home care, all the while protecting our health.
Now that sounds like it’s worth every penny to me.