Are you seeking the key superfood you need to optimize your health and wellbeing? Contrary to what popular media will have you believe, there is no one superfood but many superfoods. So, what are superfoods? Foods which are considered to be superfoods are those foods which offer not just a single health benefit but a matrix of benefits such as fibre, antioxidants, fats such as omega-3 fat, polyphenols, vitamins, minerals and macronutrients (Barsby JP et al, 2021). Whole foods offer your body a matrix of health benefits so are considered ‘superfoods’.
When it comes to creating optimal health, a fundamental part of this starts from your gut and specifically your gut microbiome. Gut microbes are health promoting and eat mostly plant-based whole foods to stay healthy such as nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, wholegrains, fruits, and vegetables. These plant-based superfoods offer fuel sources for different types of gut microbes such as prebiotic fibre and polyphenols.
One of the largest studies of its kind (McDonald D et el, 2018), using 11,336 participants, found that the key to maintaining optimal gut health is to eat thirty different plant-based wholefoods a week. This may seem daunting which is why small changes to your diet can be a great strategy to promote lifestyle change. Adding one or two new plant-based whole foods can be a good approach to introduce more varieties of plant-based foods.
Greens Powders and Whey Protein Superfood Blends
Two additional strategies to help meet your thirty different plant-based whole foods a week could be using quality whole food supplements such as an Organic Greens powder. Greens powders provide a superfood powder benefit of giving you over one third of the goal of thirty different plant based whole foods in one single smoothie!
Another strategy is to add Whey powders which contain added plant-based superfoods. This is a convenient way to add not only plant-based whole foods but also a complete source of protein which comes from whey protein. Plant-based whole foods that are beneficial include sunflower seeds, organic coconut flour, flaxseed meal, sunflower seed meal, chia flour, and psyllium husk powder.
How Quickly Can Adding More Plant Superfoods Boost Your Health?
Adding in more plant-based whole foods can change the makeup of the health promoting microbes in your gut within a week! Health promoting microbes feed off a variety of plant ‘superfoods’:
- produce metabolites which help your immune system function optimally;
- release the feel-good hormone serotonin to keep your mind happy; and
- produce anti-inflammatory factors which help reduce inflammation in your body
Fermented and Probiotic Superfoods
To create an optimal gut microbe environment you need to introduce probiotics into your system, which is best done through fermented and probiotic foods. Fermented and probiotic rich foods include yoghurt, miso, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Including two different types of fermented and probiotic rich foods daily is a smart strategy to grow your health promoting microbe varieties.
Seafood as a Superfood
Seafood offers a matrix of health benefits which include the primary fat needed for your brain to function called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This is a type of essential omega-3 fat found in seafood, particularly fatty fish.
Seafood also is a complete source of protein to help your maintain lean body mass and contains a diverse range of vitamins and minerals. This includes choline and vitamin B12 which play key functions in helping your central nervous system function. Research also suggests that seafood also promotes a healthy gut microbiome (Schmedes M et al, 2019).
Lifestyle Strategies to Add More Superfoods to Your Diet
- Swap a few red meat meals for a vegetarian protein option. This can be beans (baked beans count as a lean meat alternative), tofu or some nuts in a stir fry or even 100% nut butter.
- Make room on your plate at dinner and lunch for some plant matter. This means if you are a VEGEMITE sandwich person try adding some avocado instead of butter to the bread or add a side salad.
- Breakfast can be plant based too! Try selecting whole grain choices like oats. Another good choice is adding a serve of fruit to your cereal like a banana or some berries. If you enjoy sourdough toast with eggs, why not add a side of cooked mushrooms, tomato and spinach.
- Enjoy seafood 2-3 times a week. 100g is considered a serve of seafood and this can be any type (canned still provides nutritional value). To skip the added sugar and salt aim to select the varieties in spring water.
- Savvy snacks can be a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit or a few whole grain crackers with some hummus and some veggie sticks or yoghurt with fruit and cinnamon.
Take home message: Superfoods are not a single food but a variety of foods. By including a variety of plant-based whole foods and seafood in your diet you will be promoting an optimal gut microbiome which will play a key role in promoting your health.
- McDonald D, Hyde E, Debelius JW, Morton JT, Gonzalez A, Ackermann G, et al. American Gut: an Open Platform for Citizen Science Microbiome Research. mSystems. 2018;3(3).
- Schmedes M, Brejnrod AD, Aadland EK, et al. The Effect of Lean-Seafood and Non-Seafood Diets on Fecal Metabolites and Gut Microbiome: Results from a Randomized Crossover Intervention Study. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2019;63(1):e1700976. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201700976.
- Barsby JP, Cowley JM, Leemaqz SY, Grieger JA, McKeating DR, Perkins AV, Bastian SEP, Burton RA, Bianco-Miotto T. Nutritional properties of selected superfood extracts and their potential health benefits. PeerJ. 2021 Nov 26;9:e12525. doi: 10.7717/peerj.12525. PMID: 34900436; PMCID: PMC8628624.