5 reasons you need to have more ‘green’ in your diet

This weekend, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, it's all about green.

Bowl of green spinach

When you check into a hospital one of the first tests most doctors will order is a blood test. The reason being, they want to check the quality of your blood immediately as it’s a good indicator to what’s going on in your system and how healthy you are.

One of my teachers had a great saying she regularly said to us: “An acidic system is a sick system”. The first time I heard this it's relevance didn't really sink in. But over the years it has become one of my mantras, and is probably one of the best codes to live by.

There are many different things that can cause acid to build up in our body, but the four main ones are dehydration, poor diet, stress and lack of a good post workout recovery plan (check out my post workout smoothie here).

Acid levels in the body

We all need to keep acid levels in our bodies to a healthy and balanced level. In order to test your own PH levels, you can buy PH strips online. The ones I use are pHydrion. If your body becomes over acidic, then your blood starts to do two important things:

1: It gets thicker, which means it will deplete the delivery of oxygen to your brain and muscles throughout the day and especially while exercising.

2: It's rate of flow slows down. As it slows down, it is more lightly to deposit materials like plaque and cholesterol in your arteries and this can lead to clotting, with a high risk of stroke and heart attack further down the road. The last thing you want is unnecessary levels of fatigue early on in your run or exercise programme.

The way to keep your acid levels under control is to continually work to gain an alkaline balance through your eating and drinking habits. For me, coffee is a big NO-NO. It dehydrates your body and then gives you a short uncontrollable rush of false energy while leaving you with a craving, or in some cases, with an addiction.

Try to replace your coffee with herbal options like nettle tea, which will lower acidity, or chamomile, which will relax your nervous system. Your daily food choices also play a large part in how your body deals with and neutralizes your acid levels. The more greens you can add to your diet the better. Adding leafy greens to your diet is a great way to lower acid levels in your body.

So, I’ve put together five reasons why you should include more greens in your diet.

Mix of green vegetables

5 reasons to include more greens in your diet

  1. They improve eye health

    As we get into our 40s our eyesight can start to deteriorate. Spinach and other leafy greens are known to prevent eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.

  2. They boost bone strength

    Consuming a diet rich in green, leafy veggies is essential for improving bone strength. Green vegetables are a rich source of calcium which supports the bones, keeping them dense and healthy.

  3. They prevent cancer

    Leafy greens are full of antioxidants, carotenoids and flavonoids that help the body fight cancer of the stomach, colon, skin and breast.

  4. They improve brain function

    Dark green vegetables are known to prevent age-related cognitive decline owing to their high folate (vitamin B9) content. Vitamin B also helps improve concentration and overall brain function.

  5. They are energy boosters

    Low levels of iron in the body can result in of lack of energy. Leafy greens like kale, broccoli and spinach are excellent sources of iron. They are also rich in vitamin C, which in addition to boosting your energy levels, can also heighten immunity.

For me spinach is the best all round green vegetable. Spinach can be grown in most climates and some varieties can be grown all year round. I like to add raw spinach leaves to my post workout smoothie and most of my meals.

spinach-salad-with-chicken

Nutritional facts about spinach

Amount Per 100 grams and (% of Daily Value)

Calories 23
Total Fat 0.4 g (0%)
Saturated fat 0.1 g (0%)
Polyunsaturated fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg (0%)
Sodium 79 mg (3%)
Potassium 558 mg (15%)
Total Carbohydrate 3.6 g (1%)
Dietary fiber 2.2 g (8%)
Sugar 0.4 g
Protein 2.9 g (5%)
Vitamin A (187%)   
Vitamin C (46%)
Calcium (9%)
Iron (15%)
Vitamin D (0%)
Vitamin B-6 (10%)
Vitamin B-12 (0%)
Magnesium (19%)

And remember, the key to storing greens is to keep the air out and water away from them.

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