“What supplement can I take to replace my medication?”
This is a question I hear all the time as a doctor of naturopathic medicine. People are often surprised when I tell them that I try to use as few pills as possible — whether pharmaceuticals or supplements. The foundations of health start with a healthy lifestyle: diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management. This is a concept that is simple, but not easy. We’ve been taught that health comes in a pill, and then we can do whatever we want.
Take the one part of a healthy diet that just about all experts agree on: eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, totaling 5-9 servings per day. This is not exotic; no fad diet book, blood typing, metabolic typing, or anything else required. In fact, it’s so simple, that we ignore it.
Yes, 90% of Americans don’t get the required amount of fruits and veggies per day. In doing so, they miss out on not only the vitamins and minerals our cells need to function, but also hundreds of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are those compounds in plant foods that protect us against cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. Ever wonder why an eggplant is purple, but a tomato is red? No, it’s not just to decorate our plates: the variety of colors of fruits and veggies represent different phytonutrients.
No matter what your health challenges (or better yet, simply for prevention), start “eating a rainbow” each day –color your plate with at least 3 different colored fruits and veggies, and look for ways to get more servings on a regular basis.
The next time you’re reaching for a medication, supplement, or the latest complex diet book, keep a food journal for a few days. If you’re not getting those 5-9 servings of fruit and veggies (mostly veggies), do that first, and see how you feel after a month.