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Eating the world

AU NATUREL: Nai Davina says that increasing our intake of dark, leafy vegetables provides our bodies with a much-needed dosage of both calcium and iron.

CELLS are the smallest units in the body. Everything starts with the cell, including human life.

The saying ‘you are what you eat’ supports the fact that the food we eat is essential to making new cells and repairing the old ones. Eating a high ‘cellular diet’ would make sense to correspond with what our cells actually need, right?

Not only is food important to our cells and DNA, but it is an important part of who we are and plays a big part in our culture.
We grow up eating, what we experience our culture to be, from African, to Caribbean and to British. Dishes are passed down from generation to generation sharing stories and bringing families together far and wide. So what happens when you decide the ‘cultural’ foods you were raised on are no longer for you? When you decide on a new regime that moves you away from your immediate identification of your ‘cultural foods’ and on a whole new journey?

Does it change the way we view and celebrate our culture, or is this a way of reverting back to the original forms of an ancient diet? Being on a vegan and plant-based diet for just over 10 years, I used to think of this as the DNA switching off to the old cravings for non plant-based foods. Now, I saw this as a light bulb moment that switched on and hasn’t switched off since –
almost like a DNA explosion.

Yet, everyone’s body is different, and to say everyone should be on the same diet would be a huge generalisation. The many differences in blood types, bone density, sunlight intake and much more can vary from person to person, also changing what that body may require.

Still, vegan or not vegan, a diet including a high volume of fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and pulses can only be beneficial to the mind and body, and should be included regardless of the culture we adopt from an early age, as these are the foods that help keep our cells alive. There is a beautiful science to food and how it can nurture the body.

The traditional Ayurvedic system is an example of one, which brings a lot of thought into the combination of how we prepare our food – for example, increasing opposites to balance the body with food intake. If the body is cold, the right spices or herbs will heat the blood up to get the circulation going. This is the same for elemental foods, that grow in accordance with the elements of earth, air, water, and fire.

Let’s look at the vegetables and herbs found in the sea, or the ‘water-based foods’. These are generally good for the pancreas,
stomach, kidney, and the water systems in the body. Land or earth foods tend to be good for the bones, nails, skin – dark green leafy vegetables, especially – which provide a high dosage of calcium and iron.

‘Fire’ foods, which create heat in the body, tend to work well with the heart and the overall circulation of blood, and air foods usually start from the earth as seeds and rise up into trees. These trees such as the walnut tree, coconut tree, almond tree, blueberry tree, avocado tree and many others, can provide us with all the essential fatty omega acids for our brains. Have you ever wondered why walnuts resemble a shrivelled brain? Simply, they are superfood for the brain.

Finding the balance of what fruits, vegetables, and herbs work for you is a case of trial and error. Some things that work for one may not work for another. So, here, I will share some key superfoods that help keep my body energised.

SEAMOSS
As a water-based food, seamoss provides essential nutrients, including 92 of the 102 minerals the body needs. It is great as a daily supplement.

FLAX SEEDS/HEMP SEEDS
Flax seeds are a great way to obtain your healthy fatty omega acids, which is great for hair and digestion, and also promotes a healthy heart. They taste great sprinkled in a smoothie or on a banana, almond and coconut porridge.

KALE
This is probably my favourite leafy vegetable. I eat it with everything as it is a powerhouse for nutrients – soup, salad, lasagne, smoothies, quinoa...you name it. Kale also contains vitamin K. This vitamin is given to many newborns at birth as a vital injection to help clot the blood. However, eating foods that contain excellence sources of vitamin K throughout pregnancy can be taken in from mother to baby.

TURMERIC/GINGER
These are very powerful ‘sister’ spices that have been used throughout history for their medicinal and culinary purposes. Not only do they boost the immune system, but they are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. It is a must-have household spice.

COCONUT OIL
Now, this is one of the products that you can put in your hair, on your skin and, if you’re anything like me, in every dish. It tastes great and works well to promote the healthy cholesterol and fats that the body needs. Vegan food can be so tasty and nutritional at the same time. The more we educate ourselves on the foods we put into our bodies, the more we are able to work with the body to promote optimum health, wellbeing and, in turn, create a healthier food culture that enriches future generations to come.

Follow @naidavina on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – naidavina.com

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