Functional medicine is all about healing the body using our knowledge of normal biochemistry and pathophysiology to restore health - mainly using nutrition. So today I'm thinking about food choices.
I grew up in south Louisiana and know how easy it is to get into a food rut. Rice is a staple in our town and it seems we had it with every meal. Rice is a grain and some would argue that we don't need grains (those who go Paleo) and some who would argue that grains should always be part of a healthy diet (FDA, the author of The Longevity Diet and others). So how do we decide?
First, in consideration of rice (which is a gluten free grain). I would consider the type of rice to eat. White milled rice (with hull, bran and germ removed) is what I grew up on but there are lots of other options - Brown rice, Basmati rice, Jasmine rice, sprouted wild rice. For starters, I found a nutritional comparison of white versus brown here.
To summarize that article - brown rice has more fiber so is better as a prebiotic for gut bacteria and we are finding out that gut bacteria play a huge role in health maintenance (both physical and mental). I didn't see it mentioned in the article but all rice has arsenic in it (the soil is contaminated so even organic rice has this issue) and should be soaked to remove the arsenic before cooking. Also the higher fiber content in brown rice makes it harder to digest so it doesn't raise your blood sugar as fast as white rice so brown is the better choice for those with blood sugar issues.
I've tried all different sorts of brown rice and so far my favorites are brown Jasmine rice and sprouted wild rice. In my quest to eat different foods I made a sprouted wild rice grain bowl last night which included stir fried daikon radish, celery, watermelon radish and broccoli along with hydroponic butter lettuce and a homemade olive oil and rice vinegar dressing. I didn't have any pea sprouts but those would have made the bowl perfect. It was still pretty awesome.
I don't have a picture because I scarfed it down but here is a picture of the rice - so pretty and delicious:
So sometimes you have to get out of your rut and eat something new (and maybe more nutritious and better for your overall health). If you want to live longer and stay healthy for all those extra years, start by choosing foods that are closer to there natural state (whole foods, not processed foods) and try different foods, especially those with more color in them.
Color is frequently a protective mechanism for the plant and by consuming the colors we get the benefit of those antioxidant chemicals which help prevent free radicals that cause cancer, trigger cell death (which accelerates the aging process) and are generally harmful.
So I encourage you to eat adventurously and nutritionally for better health and leave you with this quasi-recipe for a collard green wrap - feel free to embellish and make it your own:
Collard Green Wrap
Shave the stem on the back of a collard green leaf (after washing and patting dry). Lay it out flat and add fillings. I used shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms, balsamic caramelized onion hummus (Cedars brand) and sliced watermelon radishes for my filling. Roll it up, tucking in the sides to make it like a burrito, and cut in half and chow down.