We all know that eating right and exercising are two keys to good health. And, while some prescription medication is a necessity, many people find that natural whole foods, herbs, vitamins and minerals do an amazing job of supplementing a healthy diet and exercise program, promoting wellness, and even treating ailments. In fact, plants have been used medicinally by humans since long before recorded history.
In today’s article, we’re going to look at where all three of these core wellness activities — eating right, exercising, and supplementation — can intersect right in your own home. Following is a list of 10 plants you can grow inside your house or in a small outdoor garden that can help keep your mind and body young and healthy.
Gardening and plant care is good for you
To begin with, the act of gardening itself has proven to be an excellent exercise:
- Safe: It’s low-impact and you can do it at whatever pace is comfortable for you.
- Effective: It can effectively work out all your major muscle groups, and can even work up a healthy sweat, checking all the right boxes for functional exercise.
- Fun: What’s more, if you enjoy gardening and have a fair-sized patch of ground to work with, you can workout in the garden every day without getting bored.
- Convenient: And, as if that wasn’t enough reason to dig into gardening, it’s inexpensive and you can do it right in your own backyard.
Beyond the physical benefits, gardening has mental and emotional benefits as well. Many studies have proven that working with plants:
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves mood
- Battles dementia
- Enhances self-esteem
- Boosts quality of life
- Promotes community/relationships
- Increases attention span
Interestingly, even if you don’t have access to an outdoor garden plot, caring for houseplants inside provides many of the very same benefits, although the physical gains may be at a smaller scale.
To exponentially enhance the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of gardening, you should grow the following incredibly healthy plants:
Grow a super-powered salad
As you work your way through this list, you’ll find that all these herbs, fruits, and vegetables share one thing in common: they’re incredibly nutrient-dense. That’s what makes them so powerful — they pack tremendous amounts of nutrition into a tiny number of calories.
Some of the simplest, most powerful foods you can grow in your home garden (or inside under the right conditions) would be at home in a standard tossed salad:
- Spinach - While Popeye loved it for its muscle-building protein, spinach is also a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis.
- Kale - Boasting a high level of vitamin K, kale and similar dark, leafy vegetables (like collards and mustard greens) can help slow cognitive decline in older people. One study showed 1-2 servings per day took 11 years off the dieter’s cognitive age.
- Carrots - Just about all red, yellow, and orange vegetables are packed with carotenoids, fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Carrots just happen to be super-easy to grow, and most people love them.
- Tomatoes - Antioxidants have a ton of beneficial effects at a cellular level, and, like most of the foods on this list, tomatoes are a great source. The carotenoids and antioxidants help the body fight off oxidation that ages skin cells; they also boost pro-collagen—a molecule that gives skin its taut, youthful structure.
- Cucumber - An unassuming relative of the melons, cucumbers are packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants, many of which have the potential to lower risk of oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Decreased risk in these areas is also associated with reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases, including certain cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.
Spice things up with these healthy herbs
There are literally hundreds of herbs and spices that boast some sort of medicinal or wellness property, and they all have their place in a healthy diet. However, the following three stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of clinical evidence proving their impact on wellness. If you can’t grow anything else on this list, get yourself a window-sill herb garden and plant these three herbs today:
- Sage - Contains well over a hundred polyphenol compounds, flavonoids, terpenoids and polysaccharides, sage can have many positive effects on the brain, including serving as an antidepressant and anti-inflammatory. Experts believe these compounds can protect against Alzheimer’s disease and improve cognitive function.
- Rosemary - This popular herb was probably on your mom’s roast chicken, and maybe that’s why you remember those dinners so well: rosemary can increase your odds of remembering things in the future by 60 to 75 percent. It also contains substances that are useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion.
- Turmeric - This ancient flavoring agent continues to surprise scientists with its wide-ranging health benefits. While they’ve long understood its anti-inflammatory benefits, decreased cancer risk, and support of detoxification, studies on turmeric intake now include its potential for improving cognitive function, blood sugar balance, and kidney function, as well as improving certain forms of arthritis and certain digestive disorders.
Since all herbs and spices are at their most potent and nutritious when freshly picked, growing these superfoods in your own home or garden is, hands down, the best way to take advantage of their powers.
How about some berries for dessert?
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. So, we’ll wrap things up today with two berries that can round out any meal with a sweet, juicy, nutrient-dense and delicious dessert:
- Blueberries - Rich in antioxidants that give them their purple or deep red color, the berries protect cells from damage by changing the way neurons in the brain communicate and reducing the accumulation of protein clumps most frequently seen in Alzheimer’s. Blueberries are also a great source of the same antioxidant as red wine, sharing that famously healthful drink’s benefits.
- Raspberries - Containing antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins that fight inflammation, raspberries are among the most nutrient-dense berries. They’re also a good source of ellagic acid, another antioxidant that helps fight inflammation which exacerbates joint pain. Raspberries have also been found to have an impressive impact on obesity and blood sugar regulation.
For more wellness tips and recommendations, stay tuned to the Dental Solutions blog. And, to save money while caring for your overall wellness, consider the Wellness Complete discount program!