How Plants Help Create a Healthy Internal Environment

Meals like the ones found in the Kripalu Dining Hall (and hopefully in your own kitchen)—filled with a variety of plants prepared simply—are strong medicine for the prevention or recurrence of cancer and other chronic diseases. These diets provide rich antioxidant support, cool inflammation, aid blood sugar regulation, and support the body’s natural detoxification processes. All these actions add up to an environment within our bodies that is less conducive to the initiation and development of cancers. This is particularly true for cancers such as breast and prostate, where a dietary link has been clearly established.

Phytonutrient (plant) antioxidants—the carotenoids, volatile oils, and alliums that often give plants their bright colors and bold flavors—reduce the damaging effects of highly reactive compounds aptly called free radicals. Following an active, healthy lifestyle can keep free radicals and antioxidants in balance.

Enhance your internal environment by following a plant-based diet that includes 9–13 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables. If nine servings is too daunting, begin where you are and slowly increase your plant-based choices as you clip processed foods and animal proteins and fats out of your daily fare.

For a phyto-rich breakfast, try this smoothie packed with fiber, plant protein, and nutrients:

Green Smoothie
1 cup berries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/4 cup water or unsweetened juice
1 tablespoon hempseed powder (available at health-food stores)
Handful of organic baby spinach
Love and good intentions for the day

Blend well and enjoy.

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Annie B. Kay, MS, RDN, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT, is an author, nutritionist, Kripalu faculty member, and important voice in whole-foods nutrition and yoga.

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