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My first top food picks for 2020 / Superfoods to the rescue? – Bariatric Edition

Superfoods?  Can they save us? 
Do I believe that ANY food has superhuman powers?  Can eating a few bites of kale save the day?  Will adding MCT oil to my coffee turn me into Superman?  If I just eat spinach, will I be strong like Popeye?
I don’t believe all the hype when it comes to what a lot of people term as “superfoods”.  If it was so easy, we all would take a multivitamin and never have to worry about our nutritional profiles.
Our bodies are much more complex.  I believe that not only we are what we eat, but we are also “what we digest”.  
Our digestive systems take a beating each and every day.  Eat, drink, repeat.  Our bodies work hard to digest, absorb and assimilate everything that we throw into it throughout the day.  
A lot of us have a digestive system that is compromised.  60 to 70 million people in the US live with issues such as GERD, acid reflux, lactose intolerance, IBS, Crohn’s disease, gallstones, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, ulcers, constipation, and gastro-paresis.
I know that most of my clients believe that if they are eating the right foods, they are getting those vital nutrients from those foods.  Then why is it that many people suffer from nutritional deficiencies?  What’s happening?
My bariatric clients tell me that they are eating the right foods, and they are sending me their food logs and they look terrific but their labs are still coming back a bit “off”.  This is where we need to go one step further and have a deeper dive into nutrition.
Our digestive systems are taxed.  They are not always able to complete their tasks and we should be supporting them.  Because we eat the kale, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are getting all the nutrients out of that kale. 
So how can we support our digestive system?  How can we make sure that it has what it needs to do the important job? 
Enter …. The superfoods.  Let me be clear about how I feel about the term “superfood”.  It gives the impression that if I eat just this “one food”, I will be healthy and strong.  This is not how I want you to think about superfoods.  
A termed “superfood” is only food with a super nutritional profile.  It is higher in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals when compared to other foods.  
It is not going to save the day or enable us to leap tall buildings in a single bound.  It is only a food that when added to our diets, can elevate our nutritional profile.  
If we eat “said food” one time, it is not going to suddenly make us healthier.  Good health comes from a mixture of a lot of things.  It doesn’t come from only eating kale.  Can you see where I am going with this?  Good health is eating the correct diet most days, exercising, sleeping right, lowering our stress levels, socializing with our favorite people. 
We don’t suddenly find good health at the bottom of a bowl of blueberries and this is why I don’t like the term “superfoods”.  
But, there are some foods that we can add to our diet, that have a high nutritional profile to support our digestive system and help it to do its job.  This is why there are on the top of my list and I have them in my fridge and I try to eat them every day.
This is “Sheri’s list of fantabulous foods” to keep handy….
1 –  Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are excellent at supporting our digestive systems.  They contain micro-organisms such as yeast and bacteria.  This is not some “new” food.  Fermented foods have been around forever.  They contain the “good bacteria” that are natural probiotics.  Some of the most popular fermented foods are yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kombucha, apple cider vinegar.  You can experiment and make these in your own kitchen or purchase them at your local supermarket.  The idea is to add a spoonful to each meal to increase the healthy bacteria in your body to aid with digestion, absorption, and assimilation.
2 – Avocados
Avocados, yes, they made my top 5 list AGAIN.  I know, I know, not everybody likes avocado.  I am not adding these to my list because I absolutely love eating them.  I am adding them because they are a wonderful source of healthy fat.  I eat a bit of avocado a few times a week because I realize how great they are.  They contain almost 20 essential vitamins and nutrients.  They are an excellent source of unsaturated fats and fibre.  They are loaded with B vitamins as well as vitamin E.  Is there anything avocado can’t do?
3 – Seeds 
Seeds are one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your nutritional profile.  They are small but pack a huge punch!  They are little powerhouses full of fibre, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.  The best part is that they are so easy to eat and to add to your foods. Add them to your smoothies, salads, soups, and stews.  You can choose a different seed each week or you can mix them together.  Think chia seeds, pumpkins seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds – and the list goes on and on.  Get Sprinkling!
4 – Microgreens
Ah,microgreens.  What’s a microgreen?  It’s a baby version of the big version.  They are packed with vitamins and minerals.  The big versions of the greens are fantastic but the baby version is a “super” version of regular greens.  These teeny microgreens hold the power to grow the big green versions.  That tells you how important they are.  If you like the big greens, you are going to love the micro ones.  They are packed with flavour and they look beautiful.  You can easily grow them in your kitchen or you can now find them in your regular supermarket. Add them to your low carb sandwiches, soups, stews, salads.  Eat them on their own.  Go micro greens!! 
5 – Tahini
Tahini!  Have you ever tried this lovely paste?  Let me explain…. So many of us are becoming “nut-free” due to allergy concerns and issues.  Tahini is a seed.  It is creamy, ground up sesame seed paste.  It’s not a nut but we can use it as such.  It is loaded with healthy fats, fibre, protein, calcium, iron, and magnesium.  Wherever you use peanut butter, you can use tahini.  My favorite way to consume this calcium packed super seed is to make a salad dressing with it.  Add tahini, lemon, stevia, rice vinegar, salt, pepper and sesame oil together – mix well and add to your salad greens! It is delicious and versatile!  
There are so many foods that I would like to add to this list but let’s just start with these 5 foods.  I will add another 5 to this list next month and this allows us to take time to learn about food slowly while easing into any new foods we encounter.
Surprise yourself!  Try something new!  It may just become a part of your regular food routine.  Eat clean, stay healthy and love yourself.
Healthy Hugs to You!

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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