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Top 3 Foods to Eat Daily for Optimal Health + Organ Function

  • Published on: 04 June, 2015
  • Last update: 10 August, 2017

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Hey beautiful people! I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what I eat every day, so I figured I would make a list of the top 3 foods I never miss out on and consume daily. These are foods that everyone can benefit from, no matter your diet or lifestyle.

As far as my personal eating philosophy goes, I like to follow my own version of the GAPS diet since it is the best lifestyle I’ve tried for healing the gut and chronic illness. In fact, this incredible mom is completely reversing her son’s symptoms of autism using the GAPS diet and adjunct therapies such as parasite cleansing. Here’s my version:

I eat an abundance of cooked vegetables, which are easier on the digestive system than raw vegetables. According to TCM, raw vegetables are far too yin (cold), and over time will deplete the body’s kidney yang. Vegetables are meant to be heated so that you can add yang to your dish and balance the plant’s energy. Fresh, lightly cooked spinach, with its newly activated bright green hue, becomes much more attractive to humans than the duller green it displays when uncooked. The brightness, and thus attractiveness of food reflects the nutrient content and draws our instincts to the food. When you eat spinach that has been heated, you will absorb higher levels of vitamins A and E, protein, fiber, zinc, thiamin, calcium, and iron. Important carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, also become more absorbable. (source) The same goes with berries, as told by Jo Robinson in her book Eating on the Wild Side.

The vitamins contained in plant foods are also largely fat soluble. This means that if you don’t eat broccoli with a fat, you won’t properly absorb several of its vitamins. In this study, people who consumed salads with fat-free salad dressing absorbed far less of the helpful phytonutrients and vitamins from spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots than those who consumed their salads with a dressing containing fat. For this reason, I always use a small amount of a nutrient dense fat such as coconut oil or ghee to cook my greens.

Although the bulk of my diet consists of cooked vegetables, I also consume root veg (i.e. potatoes), soaked nuts and seeds, and a small amount of fruit. I have a 4 oz. serving of organic pastured meats/eggs from a local Amish farm a few times each week. I don’t eat grains other than blue/white non-gmo corn, white rice, or oats, and I include legumes such as lentils in my diet since I don’t eat meat every day.

My Top 3 Foods You Should Consume Daily

1. Sweet Potato

Japanese sweet potato wagashi (5)

What do you eat for breakfast? Does it include milk, cereal, pancakes, or a granola bar?

The one question Lily has always asked me is, “Why do Americans start the day with such cold food?” Now, she’s not only talking about the temperature. She also means the energetic effect these foods have on the body. Typical sweet American breakfast foods can be very cooling to the body, specifically to the ‘spleen’ system (which I’ll get to in a bit).

There’s a reason we rise each morning with the sun: we are all an extension of the universe. Your body is mirroring nature and the way the sun gives heat (yang energy) to the earth in order to nourish all living things. Likewise, your body needs yang energy to wake up, light up the digestive fire, kickstart a burning metabolism, and grow. We rest at night when the sun rests, drawing inward as our bodies get cold (yin) due to all the detox going on during sleep. We don’t want to continue this inward yin energy as we wake up and start a new day that requires movement and action (both of which are yang). If you eat cooling food such as grains or milk, your body won’t get the warming yang energy it needs to rev up your metabolic processes.

For this reason, every single morning, I wake up and pop a Japanese sweet potato into the oven! In fact, I have an entire post dedicated to my love for breakfast sweet potatoes. Let’s review the benefits I mentioned in that post plus a few new ones:

Pancreas PowerhouseScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 1.15.28 PM

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that there are no coincidences! Just as I said above, you are an extension of the universe. Your body mirrors nature. Nature is a blueprint, chock full of clues about how you should live your life and nourish your body. Colors let us know that certain plant compounds are present, such as beta carotene. Shapes give us information as well.

Specific energies will always manifest in the same patterns. What are the chances that the minerals and components that specifically nourish the pancreas, grow in a vegetable that looks just like it? Or maybe you want to look at it the other way around – the pancreas, which needs certain minerals to function, grows in a pattern/shape that looks just like the sweet potato that provides its nourishment.

Examples other than the sweet potato/pancreas combo include: carrots/eyes, walnuts/brain, grapefruit/breast, clam/testicle, avocado/uterus, celery/bone, tomato/heart, wine/blood, and ginger/stomach as you’ll see in my ginger section.

The Job of the Pancreas

The Pancreas plays a crucial role in digestion. When food empties from your stomach into the small intestine, it mixes with digestive enzymes and juices produced by the pancreas. This important function helps neutralize stomach acid, preventing damage to the cells of the intestine. The digestive enzymes work to break down fatty acids, sugars, and proteins, enabling the food we eat to be safely absorbed into our cells. Without normal pancreatic function, food will not be digested according to plan and you will reap the symptoms!

open-uri20121218-30450-19f5rwqThe Pancreas also produces the hormones insulin and glucagon which help regulate the glucose taken from our food keeping blood sugar levels balanced. It also allows your body to store food energy for future use in the form of glycagon.

In terms of Chinese Medicine, the pancreas is needed to transform food into nutrients that can actually be used by the body. If the pancreas is weak, food passes through partially undigested and you are unable to fully extract the nutrients. The pancreas is said in TCM to be the seat of reason, intellect, understanding, empathy, decision-making, and clarity of direction. Someone who has a weak pancreas may be indecisive. A person with a healthy pancreas will reflect that in their voice with a healthy, rich tone of speech and possible talent in singing.

How the Mighty Sweet Potato Swoops In

Although it has quite the sugary name, studies show that sweet potatoes can help stabilize blood sugar levels by releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream. The muted sweetness of this root vegetable nourishes the pancreas while keeping its stress levels at a minimum. Sweet potatoes also help lower insulin resistance, and are an excellent source of beta carotene (among a plethora of other essential compounds). In terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the sweet potato is the best food for healing the “spleen.” The word “spleen” in TCM does not refer to the actual organ; it actually refers to a whole system of digestion including the pancreas, stomach, fluids, and spleen.

spleen-energy-functions

Lily always says, “You can close your eyes and know that every Western patient that walks through the door has ‘spleen’ deficiency.” For our purposes today, “spleen” will be synonymous with pancreas, since that’s the major gland that determines the spleen system’s efficiency. A weak pancreas or “Spleen deficiency” means something is off with the patient’s blood sugar/hormone levels, digestive processes, ability to absorb nutrients properly, or ability to produce energy from food. Other conditions that may arise from a pancreas imbalance in TCM terms are varied, including poor appetite, bloating, reflux, brain fog, and diarrhea; all the way to systemic issues including chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of control of muscles, cysts and more.

Eating a sweet potato for breakfast is the number one way to warm and nourish a weakened pancreas, and thus, bring a weakened spleen back to life.

Diabetes & Hypoglycemia

While one out of 10 people in America suffer from diabetes, a 1977 HEW study revealed that every other person in the U.S. suffers from hypoglycemia, diabetes’ mysterious sister disorder. The two disorders together form what Warren King, L.Ac calls a  “national epidemic of being uncentered,” for both disorders are related to an imbalanced function of the pancreas (which is responsible for our ability to center ourselves mentally in TCM. Hypoglycemia (frequent low blood sugar due to a weakened pancreas) has been identified as a possible cause for a large proportion of alcoholism, drug abuse, violent crime, suicide, psychiatric disorders, and many other common ills, as told by Russel Blaylock in his incredible lecture about nutrition and behavior.

Over-consuming yin (cold) simple sugar foods (such as processed junk, too much tropical/high sugar fruit not in season, refined flours, dairy products, coffee, stimulants, and sweeteners) over-accentuates the rising energy of the liver and weakens the downward force of the pancreas, preventing the proper secretion of digestive enzymes and hormones. This type of weakening of the pancreas causes diabetes.

On the other hand, abuse of very yang (hot, heavy) foods (such as eggs, meat, salty cheese, fatty fish, heavily salted foods, and fried food) over-activates the pancreas and causes the liver to stagnate. This type of weakening of the pancreas is responsible for hypoglycemia.

source: http://sorendreier.com

source: http://sorendreier.com

In our modern society, many people overeat from both groups, causing a chaotic pattern combining features of both imbalances. Keep in mind that we are exposed drugs and chemicals more and more on a daily basis, both of which are on the far end of the yin spectrum. This is a contributing factor to the rise in diabetes the U.S. has seen over the past few decades.

The Solution: Sweet Potato & Complex Carbs

Both diabetes and hypoglycemia can be ultimately traced back to a lack of balance in the diet (yin/yang), a lack of proper complex carbohydrate foods (failure to nourish the pancreas), and an overabundance of the wrong foods (which further weakens the pancreas). Our goal is to fix this incredible gland and the whole entire spleen system by fixing the diet. Anyone who has a weak pancreas/spleen (which means anyone who has eaten a Standard American Diet) should be eating very warm, lightly cooked complex carbohydrates daily including but not limited to: sweet potato, squash, pumpkin, rice, quinoa, soaked legumes, carrots, apples, green vegetables, and more. These are very balanced foods, especially when lightly cooked, that will restore and nourish the pancreas/spleen.

2. Ginger Tea

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Anyone who is part of the #gingerteagang can tell you, this is some POTENT medicine.

The Stomach

In the case of ginger tea, we’re working on nourishing the stomach (which is part of the spleen system), the liver system, and the kidney system.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 1.15.41 PMAs I mentioned earlier, a lot of the foods that Americans eat are very cold in nature. For example, growing up, everything I ate came out of the freezer! Frozen dinners, frozen vegetables, ice cream, ice cubes. These are all filled with cold, yin energy. I texted Lily a picture of ice water that my cousin gave me at a family party and she was shocked! I always thought this was normal, until Lily explained that cold food and icy drinks impair liver function by making it contract. The liver loves hot drinks and warm foods that allow it to relax and properly spread Qi/bloog (learn more about the liver meridian below). Nowadays, I only drink hot, warm, or room temperature beverages.

All of the yin foods in a Standard American Diet (SAD) go straight into the stomach and begin to make it very cold. Every time you add more cold food, you continue to put out the burning digestive fire we need for proper digestion. On top of the food, drugs, alcohol, and coffee are some of the most yin substances on earth. Many Americans abuse these, contributing to a cold stomach/spleen.

Ginger is absolutely perfect for the modern Western world for the simple fact that it is a very hot, nourishing herb that strengthens and warms the stomach. It can help the stomach recover from a SAD and can rev up your metabolism.

Ginger tea removes cold from your body, reduces joint pain and arthritis, strengthens immunity, regulates the menstrual cycle, reduces PMS, improves circulation, increases your yang energy for the whole day AND kills parasites.

Bam.

Liver & Kidney Systems

You can learn all about the liver system and how liver stagnation causes menstrual cramps, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, and even IBS in this post. The whole reason ginger tea regulates the menstrual cycle and relieves cramps is because it removes stagnation of the liver system.

You can also watch the video above to learn how stagnation in the liver system can cause a wide variety of disorders. Ginger tea is your first step to releasing this!

The kidney system, however, is something I haven’t talked about in detail just yet!

10462358_421534931321462_662176537990211661_nJust as the spleen system does not actually mean the spleen organ itself, the kidney system does not actually refer to the kidneys. It instead includes the adrenal glands, kidneys, bladder, uterus, water distribution throughout the limbs, and even bone marrow.

Thick hair at birth is an indication of strong ‘kidney’ essence or Qi. If you have decreased kidney function, this affects hair growth and is associated with the following symptoms: tiredness, poor memory, frequent urination during the night, irregular periods, lower libido, impotence and early menopause.

Ginger tea works to strengthen all components of the kidney system: it tones and nourishes the bladder, kills parasites in the uterus, dispels cold from the uterus and bladder, and strengthens the adrenal glands.

3. Raw Carrots

source:imgarcade.com

Have you read my post titled, “How One Raw Carrot a Day Can Balance Your Hormones“?

It’s true ladies and gents. This modest superfood should be eaten daily because it helps the liver system. The liver system is responsible for making and spreading your hormones. Anything that unblocks the liver allows the body to properly balance its hormone production.

Believe it or not, nature has given us a clue once again.

indexIn TCM, the eyes are directly related to the liver and the health of the eye reflects the health of the entire liver system.

“Anything that impairs liver function or ties up the detoxifying function will result in excess estrogen levels.” – Harvard Physician John R. Lee, M.D.

In the 1970’s, Dr. Ray Peat performed (and still performs to this day) extensive research on hormones and nutrition. He found that eating raw carrots daily helped detox the bowel and reduced levels of estrogen within only 3 days.

Raw carrots contain an indigestible fiber that helps the body perform its natural detoxification process more efficiently. This fiber binds to unused hormones and toxins and helps to safely pull them out of your body. Carrot fiber also prevents estrogen from being reabsorbed in the intestine, which can happen when transit time is slow!

Balanced hormones and proper estrogen levels means a balanced mood, great skin, and healthy weight. Carrots are my #1 beauty secret!

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Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great week! My new parasite kits will be launching this weekend on IndieGogo, so be sure to join the e-mail list so you can be notified when it’s live.

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22 Comments

amy

Reply
How many raw carrots should I eat a day?

UR

Reply
Can you share a recipe on how you make your ginger tea?

Bahar

Reply
Hi Olivia! I’m sooo happy I stumbled upon your website! I myself just like you have been doing research for years to heal my body natural. My struggle began when I had a fibroid the size of an orange removed at the age of 33 due to years of taking BC pills and a poor diet. After that, I stopped taking the BC pills and cleaned up my diet. Now I believe that I have Qi- deficiency and Liver Stagnation after watching your video on PMS, etc. I’m curious where I can buy the: Xiao Yao Wan herb to help me cleanse my liver! Please let me know! Thank you! Bahar

José

Reply
Hello Olivia thank you for this info. I always loved eating sweet potatoe but I never thought eating it at breakfast. Will try that. Love ginger tea. I would like to ask you, please, you have a tip for me, because I’m looking for something natural to substitute omeprazole. I would like to stop taking this but I don’t want to do it cold turkey. I’m looking for a natural way. Thank you so much. Jose from portugal

Lisa

Reply
Love your info! Is a sweet potato a day still ok on an Anti-C Diet

Maria

Reply
Hi Olivia, Is Xiao Yao Wan meant to be infused and drunk like a tea, or do you grind the herbs up and take them as a pill? Thanks 🙂

Lindsey

Reply
Hi, Just discovered your awesome site this morning. Thanks so much for all of the much needed info! You break it all down so it is easy to understand. 🙂 ~Lindsey

Kendra Bryant

Reply
Hey Olivia! I was wondering when the next parasite kits will be shipped out? I ordered mine on June the 22nd. Thanks!

Joy Long

Reply
Thank you for all the great info!

Natalie

Reply
this has got to be one of my favorite posts. thank you so so much!! there is definitely love is all you do here.

Brendan Allen

Reply
Wow Olivia! What a great read! My names Brendan and you have roused my attention!! I’ve been dealing with the same problems you mentioned in your parasite cleanse story for 2 yrs now.. I’ve tried using herbs to fix the problem but I guess I haven’t used the right combinations…..? 🙁 who knows! I’d like to know when your PARASITE CLEANSE will be back in stock please?? Thanks so much!! You truly are helping ppl live a better, healthier life!! Much wisdom gained from reading your posts

Sandrine Nau

Reply
Hi Olivia! I have been following you on IG and love your page which I find very informative. I would really love to purchase your parasite cleanse and other products however, I haven’t figured out how it works…. Can you help please?

Stephanie Lopez

Reply
Hi Olivia, is there anything you know about autoimmune disease? My mom has been bouncing from doctor to doctor because they can’t figure out what exactly she has. She tested positive for autoimmune disease. Her eyes are very dry, her mouth is very dry, her throat feels swollen at times, dry genital parts, her lymph nodes feel swollen, insomnia, and body aches at times. It seems like it is sicca syndrome. We don’t know what to do anymore and it’s very exhausting and emotionally hard to see her that way. I would truly appreciate the help. Thank you!

Warda

Reply
When most people wright ‘diabetes’ they refer to type 2. Is there anything that I can do to actually heal and get rid of my type 1 diabetes?

Dennyinthecity

Reply
Love your advise

Sarah

Reply
Hi Olivia! Just have a few questions for you. Do you just have sweet potatoes by themselves for breakfast or is it usually with something? Also, approximately how many cups of veggies would you recommend a day?

P 4 peace

Reply
Do you have your sweet potato as is? No filling or anything? Any ghee? Do you boil your ginger with the skin on? Strange how eggs are hot foods. My homeopathic doctor who uses Chinese medicine alongside the remedies had advised my daughter eggs three times a day if she wants……?? Thanks Olivia.

Olivia

Reply

I love to have it with ghee and some pink salt! And yes, I boil my ginger with the skin on always. Eggs are definitely ‘yang’ and wonderful for someone with yang deficiency.

Cassie

Reply
Sweet potatoes–YES YES YES! Another great one? Leafy greens such as kale and spinach! Broccoli is another great vegetable!

Mitchell Stratoulatos

Reply
Hello Olivia very happy I could found you today on Facebook and Instagram,I am very with today’s article I have read on top 3 foods to eat daily for optimal health and organ fuction.do you have any articles on auto immune diseases ?

MJ

Reply
Thanks so much for this post! You’ve definitely put in a lot of research and I found this very beneficial. I’ve always disliked the taste of ginger, but I will try to have the ginger tea in the mornings and see how it affects my body. Thanks again Olivia!

Carla

Reply
Eat Sweet potatoes between 7am and 9am according to TCM. Also, dried fruits help strengthen the spleen, don’t you agree?

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