1) Fermented Veggies: My first instinct when someone tells me that they have a digestive or skin issue is to ask if they’re eating fermented vegetables and, if not, to tell them to get on that. They are vegetables on steroids. They help regulate your digestion, boost immunity, and even help your body absorb other nutrients so that you can really get the most out of all the foods you’re eating. Sauerkraut, kimchi, or whatever you like—just get it in there. I have also noticed that since I’ve started getting serious about eating fermented veggies every day, my cravings for sweets has really decreased. Not only does the gut-healing beneficial bacteria help to balance a healthier inner ecosystem, but it also helps my body to better handle the sugars and toxins that I’m eating.
2) Healthy Fats: Please, please, please do not be afraid of fats. There is a significant portion of the raw food community that believes in eating mostly fruit and hardly any fat. I don’t think this is smart, and I can say from personal experience that it made me feel like crap. Healthy, plant-based fats feed your brain, prime your body to absorb nutrients, and keep you feeling full both physically and mentally. When in doubt, put some avocado on it.
3) Dark Leafy Greens: Kale, spinach, chard, arugula, whatever you like—these are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They are all packed with iron, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and even protein! They help prevent cancer, heart disease, and high cholesterol. As a side note, my dad and I raised birds when I was little, and he would grow a garden full of chard specifically to feed them—even birds need their greens!
4) Hydration: I have to admit, this one is the hardest for me. I never remember to drink enough water. Most of us are dehydrated all the time, and that sucks, because it makes us tired, hungry, and even anxious. Do whatever you have to do: Stick a Post-it to your fridge, get a water drinking app on your phone, or just try to keep your reusable bottle with you and full at all times.
5) Get Alkaline: Chances are your body is too acidic. Sugar, coffee, alcohol, meat—they all create acidity in the body. This can lead to symptoms like inflammation, a weakened immune system, water retention, skin rashes, sleep issues, mood swings, fatigue, and allergies. The best and easiest way to start getting alkaline is to have warm water with lemon first thing in the morning, every morning.
Excerpted from Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. by Laura Miller. Copyright © 2016 by Laura Miller. Reprinted by permission of Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan.
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Image courtesy of David Loftus.