I’m a firm believer that one of the core tenets of optimal health is good nutrition. In my practice, food is the first medicine and no visit is complete without discussion about the challenges of eating well and a few tips on how to do it well on a budget.
This is where my love of fruit comes in handy. Fruits and vegetables are one of the best methods for getting not just your basic vitamins and minerals but those powerhouse phytochemicals, the disease fighting antioxidants and inflammation reducers as well. Research has shown strong connections between chronic inflammation and allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, heart disease and even some forms of dementia. Increasing your dietary intake of antioxidants and free radical fighters strengthens your immune system, thereby lowering your risk for life-altering disease.
One of my favorite budget friendly immune system powerhouses? Pineapple. At less than $3.00 at my local grocer, fresh pineapple is a healthy eating steal. With a little bit of prep on Sundays I’m guaranteed to be ready for my week of juicing, smoothies and healthy snacks.
Five Facts on Pineapple:
1. Pineapple contains Bromelain, a sulfur-containing, protein-digesting enzyme that demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory effects in clinical trials. Bromelain was introduced as a medicinal agent in 1957 and since then over 200 scientific papers have been written on its therapeutic benefits. Bromelain reduces inflammation in a wide range of conditions including arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome and many respiratory conditions like asthma and bronchitis. Bromelain also assists in digestion, enhances wound healing, and reduces the swelling and mucous production found in conditions like sinusitis and seasonal allergies. Pineapple is considered a hypoallergenic food and is not associated with any significant safety issues. Because of this it is often used in allergy avoidance diets.
2. Pineapple is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, an essential cofactor needed for energy production and immune system function. Just one cup of fresh pineapple supplies 73% of the recommended daily intake of manganese.
3. Pineapple is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B1 and B6 which are essential for optimal brain function and red blood cell production.
4. Pineapple is naturally rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber and helps keep your bowel movements regular. Soluble fibers attract water into the gut and turns to gel which slows down digestion. This slowing gives your digestive tract time to absorb important vitamins and minerals. Insoluble fibers make stool bulkier and softer which aids in preventing constipation and other digestive disorders like diverticulosis and hemorrhoids. Nutritional recommendations for optimal digestive health suggest that you need to consume 14 grams of total fiber per 1,000 calories you eat. One cup of raw pineapple chunks or slices provides approximately 2.3 grams of fiber.
5. Pineapple is low in calories and makes a fantastic morning juice or addition to your morning meal.
Fresh pineapple chunks are my favorite mid-day snack! For mornings, here’s one of my favorite juice recipes that helps get my day off to a fresh and healthy start especially during allergy season.
Morning Eye Opener
The fruits in this recipe provide vital nutrients important for strengthening the immune system. Rich in flavanoids that have strong antiviral and antioxidant effects, this blend is also packed with energy enhancing and digestive enzymes. Bananas increase the viscosity of the drink and allows for slower absorption of the sugars. It tastes great with or without the bananas.
1/2 mango, pitted
2 oranges, peeled
1/2 papaya, seeded, sliced
1/4 pineapple with skin, sliced
1 banana, peeled
Juice the mango first, followed by one orange, the papaya, and then the second orange. Juice the pineapple last. Pour into a blender adding in the banana and liquefy.
Approximate Nutrient Breakdown
Protein 5.1 gm
Carbohydrates 90 gm
Fat 1.5 gm
Vitamin A 772 RE
Vitamin C 272 mg
Vitamin E 3 mg
Thiamine 0.4 mg
Riboflavin 0.4 mg
Niacin 2.5 mg
Vitamin B6 1.1 mg
Folic Acid 101 mcg
Sodium 7 mg
Calcium 158 mg
Magnesium 84 mg
Potassium 1,476 mg
Iron 0.9 mg