Why Rotate Your Leafy Greens?
There are some obvious reasons we should eat a varied plant based diet. By eating a wide variety of leafy greens we ensure a wide range of vitamins and minerals boosting overall nutritional intake. Now onto the less obvious reason…
Plants Inherent Defense Mechanism
Mother Nature is very smart. She wants to ensure survival of all the millions of different plant and animal species because biodiversity is the key to a healthy ecosystem.
It’s obvious that there is a hierarchical food chain, and plants happen to be at the bottom of it. But in order to ensure the survival of plant species, Mother Nature also gifted plants a certain level of built-in defense mechanism to defend themselves against predators. Let’s say for example that this one species of moneys loved this particular leafy green. They would just eat it and eat it, and never allow that leafy green to seed itself and reproduce – effectively wiping out that species of leafy green. This wouldn’t be a good, so plants come inherent with their own chemical defense mechanism. Plants are actually an incredibly intelligent form of life on this planet. They are able to communicate with one another through these chemicals also known as phyto-toxins. So if they are being eaten in large quantities, and their very survival is at risk, they put out this chemical, in minute amounts that triggers the monkeys (or whatever is eating them) to stop. It also signals the other plants to start producing this chemical to defend themselves against being eaten – amazing isn’t it?
What Does This Mean For Us?
All green leaves contain varying amounts of different phytotoxins; I’m sure you’ve heard of some of them – including oxalic acid, goitrogens and different alkaloids. Leafy greens are super high in all sorts of important minerals and should be consumed as one of the main components of a raw food lifestyle, but just be sure to change it up! There’s two sides to this coin, let me explain.
The Up Side
In very small quantities, these chemicals can’t hurt us, and some theorize that changing up our greens will actually have some positive benefits to the immune system, as long as you’re consuming the plant chemicals in small amounts and a wide range of them. (You would have to eat an incredibly large amount of leafy greens to eat a “toxic” dose of these plant chemicals, it’s practically impossible.) It’s thought that these chemicals may help boost our own immune system because we’re eating the immune defense of the plant although in small quantities.
The Down Side
If you’re putting the same leafy greens in your smoothies every single day or eating the same spinach salad day in and day our, your consuming the same phytotoxins and they can actually accumulate in your body and some say, could potentially have detrimental health effects.
Please don’t take this as more dietary dogma to be afraid of, and not eat greens, that’s not what I’m implying at all! I recommend to clients eat as many greens as they like and make it a mainstay in their raw food diet. Just make sure to change it up as much as you can. Eating a balanced and varied diet will prevent any level of phytotoxins to build up in the body. It’s also especially important to know your own body and allow your intuitive wisdom to guide you to healthful eating. Some individuals are more susceptible to particular phytotoxins than others. Some are more sensitive to the oxalic acid in spinach, goitrans in the brassica family or solanine in nightshades.
I recommend trying to eat as wide a range as you can, between 10-15 different kinds of greens, and try to switch it up at least every couple of days.
As I mentioned earlier, this will also ensure that you get a wider range of vitamins and minerals in your diets boosting you overall nutritional intake.
What do you think? Do you try to rotate your greens? What are your favorite greens?
Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,