Let Food Be Thy Healer By Svetlana Kogan, M.D.

One of the rewarding aspects of being a holistic medical doctor is that you get to learn about the medicinal benefits of various foods and how to use them in your practice.

Today I will highlight some of these important functional foods. Take a look at the cantaloupe for example. One cup of cantaloupe provides 110% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. This cleansing antioxidant combines with the melon’s high water content to help speed elimination of fat-trapping toxins from the body.

For a patient who is trying to optimize their weight and asks for a nutritious breakfast recommendation, I would suggest one small slice of cantaloupe. My advice would then be to combine that with either a small cup of plain low fat organic yogurt, or a small serving of low fat organic cottage cheese, or just about any other non-processed source of protein. As you face Florida’s heat – adding a cantaloupe to anything you eat, will  make you feel brighter, cooler and more hydrated.

Another great fruit to use abundantly in your Naples home is watermelon. Packed with skin-nourishing antioxidants, like Vitamins A, C, and lycopene – watermelon can help strengthen the skin’s sun defense network by preventing free radical damage that can cause wrinkles and sun spots. In fact, you probably  noticed how so many skin care companies are adding watermelon lately as an ingredient in creams and moisturizers.

In the kitchen, combining one small slice of cool watermelon with any healthy source of unprocessed protein like a scoop of avocado or a low fat organic mozzarella stick, will make a great nutritious snack and keep your complexion hydrated and radiant. A lesser known fruit chock-full of nutrients is kiwi. The Vitamin C and polyphenols in kiwi can reduce levels of triglycerides  by up to 15 %.

A perfect breakfast or a snack for someone trying to mend their metabolic syndrome naturally is to blend one small cup of organic nonfat kefir or plain yogurt, one kiwi fruit cleaned and diced and one teaspoon of chopped fresh mint – for a delicious smoothie. You have probably noticed that I often recommend nonfat or low fat yogurt or kefir as a medium for many fruit snacks. These two happen to be in the top ten calcium-rich foods out there, and  calcium can reduce dietary fat absorption by a whopping 250%. Calcium also suppresses the release of hormones that slow down the metabolism.

In addition, kefir and yogurt’s natural combo of calcium with Vitamin D improves our sensitivity to insulin.  Some people shun dairy for allergic reasons, whether it may be asthma connection or gut sensitivity.  However, I would like to set the record straight for kefir and yogurt, both are cultured fermented foods.

The live bacteria in both produce their own lactase, which means that even if you are lactose-intolerant, you can still enjoy them. Kefir and yogurt are also loaded with Vitamin B12, phosphorus, magnesium, Vitamin D, organic acids and over 60 different strains of live bacteria making them a very rich source of probiotics for the gut. However, if you have absolutely no tolerance for these products, you can easily substitute them with almond or cashew milk.

When it comes to healthy eating, my philosophy has always been: stay away from 90 % of what is sold in the supermarket. Instead,  go for the fresh fruits and vegetables, and a healthy and organic source of dairy and poultry. Smaller wild fish is a bonus, as are lentils and legumes. Food is much more exciting and safer than medications and should be engaged as a healing modality as much  as possible.

Dr.Kogan is a Concierge Holistic Internal Medicine doctor in Naples. Her website is CustomLongevity.com

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