Eating Your Way to Success, Part 2: Superfood Edge

If you’ve left the Standard American Diet and started eating whole foods, congratulations! You’ve made a challenging yet important step towards improving your life.  Hopefully, your colleagues are noticing, too! In this post, we’re going to offer tips for getting an extra edge in health and performance. Are you ready to step it up a notch?

Superfoods

These are nutritional powerhouses that give significant benefits. There are many types of superfoods, some of them obscure and expensive, and others unsuspecting items on your plate. For example, have you ever heard of maca, lucuma, and kamu kamu? Maybe not. But did you know broccoli, blueberries, and the same seeds used in Chia Pets are considered superfoods?

We'll focus on just two items that give the most ROI. Growing or making them yourself doesn't require much time and saves you a ton of money in the long run. 

 

Kefir: The Russian Elixir

This fermented milk beverage is believed to have existed for centuries in Eastern Europe and has a long track record of increasing longevity, fighting off disease, and promoting wellbeing. This is most likely due to cultures of friendly, probiotic bacteria (up to 32 different strains) that proliferate in it. Probiotics are now esteemed as vital for optimal health. The Harvard Medical School states, “Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.” 

While scientific research of kefir is still in its infancy, there are studies on rodents that indicate kefir could slow tumor growth and protect against radioactivity. Plus, it has a host of nutrients, such as protein, B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.

Homemade kefir is simple to make and can have up to 22 more strains of probiotic bacteria than its store-bought counterpart. After your initial batch, you'll only need to pay for the milk for each cycle, since the culture can be reused.

A Note about Grains

Kefir cultures come in “grains,” which resemble a hybrid of cauliflower and cottage cheese. There is also a water kefir spin-off that comes from a different set of grains (resembling small crystals), yet has about the same amount of probiotic strains. The main differences are that water kefir has a higher sugar content and lacks some of the nutrients found in milk kefir. But it is more versatile – you can combine it with any fruit juice and sweetener to get unique nutritional profiles and flavors. Coconut water kefir is a popular choice since it has nearly half the calories of most fruit juice kefirs.

Kefir grains can be easily found on Amazon, Etsy, or Kefirlady. 

Click on these hyperlinks to learn how to make milk kefir and water kefir.

 

Lion’s Mane: Nature's Brain Food

This odd mushroom, also resembling cauliflower (albeit with teeth), has been a powerful ingredient in Ancient Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Its most notable effects are in cognitive enhancement and memory, making it a nootropic, or brain booster. Japanese Buddhist monks once used it to help their concentration in meditation. Can it help you in work?

It seems so. The Huffington Post discusses a Japanese study on the mushroom, "Giving lion's mane to 30 Japanese patients with mild cognitive impairment resulted in significant benefits for as long as they consumed the mushrooms." Scientists have discovered that lion's mane stimulates Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which helps build and maintain nerve cells. It also improves myelination, referring to the coating around neuronal branches (axons) that contributes to nerve processing. Like the kefir studies, research into lion's mane is also just beginning. But the long-documented history and results so far make a compelling case. 

For best results, it is recommended to take lion's mane in powdered form, mixed into hot water to make a tea. Or you can grow your own and eat the mushroom fresh. 

Concluding Points

Take this as your launchpad to learning more about nutrition, superfoods and nootropics. Remember that supplements of any type, even organic ones, are not a replacement for a healthy diet and lifestyle - which is why they are supplemental!

Please keep in mind that there are many foods and supplements touted as miraculous, and they're often insanely priced. Be discerning and selective. Look into quality research and history. At the same time, there are some foods that just haven't been researched yet. Experiment for yourself to see what works, and pay close attention to your body. Awareness is key!

Here's a brief list of evidence-based superfoods and nootropics for you to explore:

  • Fish
  • Barley
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Blueberries
  • Bacopa

You truly can eat (or drink) your way to success!

This information is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Please consult your medical practitioner if you have any concerns about how the foods discussed will affect you. 

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