Inhale the Kale
Did you know that when you chop up kale and inhale the aroma, your body produces exactly the right enzymes to digest the kale? A cool fact I learnt recently from hormone expert Dr. Sara Gottfried.
Science might tell us that digestion starts in the mouth, but I believe it starts long before that.
When the smell of sizzling onions greets you at the door, does your stomach not start to grumble in response? Similarly, if you’re watching the Great British Bake Off, are you not salivating by the first ad break?
It could be argued that digestion begins in the brain, and when your mind is calm and focused on the food you’re about to eat, your stomach is ready.
Unfortunately, stress can shut down our digestive system – freezing the production of enzymes and diverting energy to the brain and muscles. This can lead to bloating and indigestion.
So even if you don’t cook your next meal from scratch – take five minutes to properly savour it. I encourage my health-coaching clients to breathe in deeply for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four and exhale for a count of four. Then imagine the first delicious bite you are going to take.
On the topic of kale I thought I’d briefly mention Goitrogens. These substances – found in kale and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, spinach and rocket – can interfere with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland, which can ultimately lead to a sluggish thyroid.
But I thought Broccoli was a superfood!?
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are jam packed with compounds called indoles and isothiocyanates, which have been shown to help prevent and reverse breast cancer. Broccoli sprouts might even be able to take on cancer stem cells according to the latest research. So how do you reap the benefits, while safeguarding your thyroid?
Steaming or lightly sautéing cruciferous vegetables will deactivate most of the goitrogenic properties. It will of course denature some of the enzymes and nutrients, so to get the most out of your veg I suggest you aim for balance.
If you’re a juice lover like me, limit the raw kale, broccoli sprouts etc to twice a week and try sautéing them for dinner the rest of the time.
You can also try ‘stir steaming,’ a great tip I learned from Natasha Corrett founder of Honestly Healthy. Simply add a splash of water to cool the pan down as your stir-fry the vegetables.
Laura Bond is a journalist, author and health coach. She specialises in helping clients beat stress, reduce their toxic load and prepare their bodies for babies. To find out more, click here.