These Cruciferous Vegetables Feed Your Bones and Heal Your Body
I have to tell you about a TEDx talk that blew me away. It’s a riveting story about a doctor taking control of her own health.
Terry Wahls is an MD and an athlete. But in 2000 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She followed all the advice that mainstream medicine had to offer. But her condition continued to decline rapidly until she was confined to a wheel chair.
That’s when she turned to food and functional medicine. Today she is out of the wheelchair, active, energetic, and free of MS symptoms.
I love her story because she proved once again the incredible healing power of whole foods.
Dr. Wahls designed a protocol for MS sufferers and for other people with autoimmune diseases. But her food plan can help heal most conditions. It can even help build your bones.
Her protocol includes a whole food Paleo-type diet, supplements, stress relief, and other body work. She shares her program in The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine.
I was so impressed by how Terry Wahls turned her life around with food that I chose her book for my book club. About 16 women in the club read and discussed the book over about six weeks. And as we read, we experimented with the Wahls diet.
Dr. Wahls designed three levels of her diet because not everyone can jump right in to the most restrictive Paleo version that she follows. But all three versions ban processed foods, gluten and dairy. They are all low in carbohydrates and emphasize lots of vegetables and fruits.
As our book club worked through the diet we all tried to increase the amount of vegetables we were eating. Dr. Wahls recommends getting 9 servings of vegetables and fruit every day. But not just any vegetables. Three servings every day have to come from the cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous is a mouthful to say. These veggies were originally named for the way their flowers seemed to form a cross or crucifix shape. But they are also known as “brassica” vegetables. That comes from their botanical name which translates to “cabbage.” Some people just call them the cabbage family of vegetables.
Eating three servings a day of cruciferous veggies really wasn’t hard for me because I love them. Here’s a list of the most common ones you’ll find:
Why are cruciferous vegetables so important?
For one thing, cruciferous vegetables are critical for helping your body get rid of harmful toxins.
You see, most toxins are fat-soluble. But in order for your body to get rid of them, it has to first convert them to a water-soluble state. Once they are water-soluble your body can excrete them through the bowel, through the kidneys as urine, or through the skin as sweat.
The sulfur in cruciferous vegetables helps your body gets those toxins out. A sulfur molecule attaches to a toxin and makes it water-soluble. Then it can be flushed out.
Without those sulfur compounds the toxins could be trapped in your body. They would just continue to circulate causing more harm.
But there’s another reason to eat these veggies every day. They build strong bones.
Cruciferous vegetables are full of vitamin C, calcium, vitamin K, and magnesium. You need all of those for keeping your bones healthy.
And cruciferous vegetables are also alkalizing. They help you balance out the more acidic foods in your diet like meats, dairy, and sugar that tend to leach calcium from your bones and make them weak.
I recommend Terry Walhs’s book to everyone who is interested in the healing power of food. She explains very clearly how each type of food in her plan supports your body and leads to maximum health.
Here's a Cruciferous Salad recipe that is truly a crowd pleaser:
Miso has been a staple in Chinese and Japanese diets dating back to approximately 2,500 years! This fermented ingredient is well-recognized for stimulating digestion and energizing the body. When choosing miso make sure you avoid the pasteurized versions and search for the live enzyme-rich, organic product to be sure you receive the full benefits. This fermented energizer is packed with amino acids, digestive stimulants, beneficial probiotics, vitamin B, just to name a few. While it works to strengthen your immune system, it will also work on healing your gut.
• 1/4 red cabbage (shredded)
• 1/4 green cabbage (shredded)
• 3-4 kale leaves (shredded)
• 8-10 cherry tomatoes – cut in halves or quarters
• 1/4 cup pepitas (dry roasted pumpkin seeds)
• optional additional vegetables (or anything else you like)
o 1 carrot (shredded)
o ¼ cup fennel bulb (shredded)
o 2 radishes (shredded)
o ½ to 1 avocado - cut into cubes
o ½ zucchini
o ½ jicama
• 3 tablespoons miso (my favorite miso is South River)**
• 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Combine the shredded cabbage, kale, tomatoes (additional vegetables) and pepitas in a large bowl.
2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine well.
3. Dress the salad with the dressing before serving.
** South River makes soy free miso. If you are on the Whole30 plan which does not allow for beans, you eliminate the miso all together.
This dish saves well if you don’t dress the entire salad. Dress as you use.
Here's a printable version: CRUCIFEROUS SALAD
When it comes to choosing the right foods to optimize your bone health, what is the single biggest challenge, frustration or problem you’ve been struggling with?
Please let me know so I can write content that meets your needs.
Plus I have wonderful alkaline salad dressing waiting for you on the other side to thank you for your time 🙂.
From my delicious bones to yours,
Your Holistic Bone Coach
Wahls M.D., Terry; Eve Adamson (2014). The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles Penguin Group US.