40 Carrots, Going for the Gold
Are carrots really as good for eyesight as their watercooler reputation would lead us to believe? Health is a marathon and like finding the perfect shoes to last the tournament, not just the mile, root vegetables are a daily must-have to stay well on our course.
What are Root Vegetables?
What you see in a name is sometimes you get. Vegetable plants already come in a variety shapes, colors, sizes and flavors so Root Vegetables are the plants that absorb rich nutrients directly from the soil through their roots and use them into those same roots we pull up in the garden to put on our plates.
You may already be familiar with these popular root vegetables:
Carrots (as well as other deep orange and yellow vegetables) have a lot of these little things called beta-carotene, not to mention some other important nutrients. Beta-Carotene not only helps to protect our eyes from the sun, lowering chances of eye-problems such as cataracts, but also converts into Vitamin A when digested. Vitamin A takes on a few forms known as retinoids, all focusing their effort into their root-word: the Retina.
While these tasty carrots are super good for us, it's important that we don't forget about their variety such as yellow, red and even purple carrots or adding other root vegetables to our meal-planning. Too much beta-carotene can have us resembling a carrot in a "You are what you eat" kind of way. If someone has to ask if you're trying out a new self-tanner, maybe switch over to some Fennel, Celeriac (roots from a celery plant) or Yucca for a bit.
Why are Root Vegetables Essentials?
While each vegetable has its own special flavor for every palate, root vegetables give us a variety of Fibers that Probiotics, the good bacteria working for us, need so they'll feed on them instead of us.
The Relationship between Fibers and Probiotics
Of all the Total Fibers, or fancily named Prebiotics, available for us to take in, it boils down to a combination of Dietary and Functional Fibers. Instead of being broken down completely in the stomach itself or small intestine, they find their way to the large intestine where they're ground up by enzymes into amino-acids who run into the tiny microorganisms, Probiotics, working to balance what's going on in the gut. Probiotic good bacteria target these fibers and ferment them, which contribute then to the mucus lining these organs. As gross as it sounds, mucus acts as the gate-keeper to let the good nutrients in through the bloodstream, sending signals on to the rest of our bodies, while blocking out hazards and directing them away to be expelled.
To leave these little guys out could unbalance gut-flora; weakened and under-fed good bacteria or things we've eaten that our bodies may be genetically adverse to breaking down could risk tearing into our protective lining. This not only lets those same dirty chunks through the torn opening but could lead to things previously working for us, spilling over into the bloodstream and mistaking good blood cells or tissue as fibers not yet digested. While the body can heal itself, just like scar tissue growing over a scrape to the knee, spills like these may lead to inflammation or sepsis if ignored. Understanding ourselves, our DNA and habits can help us figure out what went wrong and what we may need to change.
What role do they play in the Immune System?
Without these nutrient signals being broken up and sent out to the rest of our body, what would happen? How long could we survive eating any and everything only for it not to process and come back out the other end, if it comes out at all? It feels like a drastic comparison, but what systems do we have in place that don't already rely on our gut.
Influenced by factors ranging from Personal Genetics and Age to Environment Stress or Medications, the colonies we host provide essential functions that spider-web everywhere. In one direction, the metabolism chews on the fat of the matter to maintain body-weight, fight diabetes and fortify bones. Forking off over to the therapeutic path shows the prevention of skin problems and diarrhea while distributing out vitamins. Then there's the Immune System taking the building blocks it's being sent and stimulates resistances to allergies or diseases.
Sometimes These Roles Reverse or Abandon Course:
Just like good bacteria, we also host some bad bacteria. Fermenting vegetables (before we consume them, not the process we internally work with and not pasteurized) and eating them in smaller portions or less frequently can improve our overall health. One way they help is by inoculating ourselves to a variety of bacteria families so that we can internally then learn the differences between the good and the bad to reference later; like once in a while checking out the definition of a word to see if we're using or spelling it right.
Sometimes we're just dealt a bad hand. In Auto-Immune cases, like Hypothyroidism, for example, where someone isn't making enough of the thyroid hormone on their own, signals can get more easily crossed. Probiotics and the immune system risk mistaking healthy cells for bad cells right from the get-go or don't see them regularly enough to be convinced they're safe. There are also Oral-Allergies where the enzymes lining our tongue and cheeks mistake the fruits or vegetables we're chewing on for the pollens their plants provide in the wild, causing them to inflame or reject the food outright.
Natural Balance and the body's ability to Heal Itself
If you're walking along a trail and stray off into the brush, or find it blocked off by a fallen tree, how do you find your way back or decide which way to go? We've set out on our path in life and our bodies continue to grow, continuously reacting to everything we throw our way while striving for our potential. At our roots and core, we want to be healthy, whether it's our brains sending that signal to our bodies or our bodies sending that signal to our brains. A fractured bone grows back stronger. The throat and lungs collect irritants in mucus for us to cough out and away. The mechanics of our eyes and the signals we interpret as sight reach their potential when we stop straining them and start feeding them.
While it's universally accepted that our sight will deteriorate as we age, the extent we expect isn't necessary. Vision Loss and Macular Degeneration can be moderately treated with Carotenoids, found richly in carrots and other root or dark-leaved vegetables. They may not turn back the hands of time, but they are a powerhouse in stimulating and promoting stem cell health, the body's default-style cells we were born with that naturally slow down and deplete when left un-attended. A quality eye supplement may also support healthy vision and eye comfort.
Very few good things happen to our bodies over-night while not everything bad happens in an instant either. We're constantly evolving as individuals on a personal and cellular level. Every 7 to 10 years, we've become a whole new person. For the most part, we're killing off damaged cells and regenerating, replacing them with newer, stronger cells that have updated information as to how they should be behaving. Building the foundations of these new cells with our goals and limitation in mind, we can chart a course to who we want to see ourselves become.
Dana Cronin is a recent computer programming graduate with backgrounds in business development, mathematics and graphic design. Mom of two chihuahuas that keep her on her toes she joined the SupplementRelief.com team in early 2022. Struggles with depression and ADHD in a neurodivergent mind have become strengths in her core tool-belt and motivators instead of chains to the past. Growing up on a small horse farm and moving to a variety of city environments as a young adult, Dana is taking her passions for writing and problem-analysis to channel into asking the right questions in ways others can connect to.
Learn more about Dana Cronin.
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