Maya Feller answers some of the top intuitive health and nutrition questions she is often asked by her community, so we thought you’d like to know, too!
1. How do you define health?
When we think about the definition of health, my experience is that health is much more than the absence of disease or illness. Health exists on a spectrum and is not limited to a stand-alone moment in time. The variables that are needed to maintain health are impacted by a multitude of factors including socioeconomics, literacy including health literacy, access to safe and affordable housing, food, and healthcare.
2. Do superfoods exist?
I work from the belief that all fruits and vegetables in their whole and minimally processed form are super. Labeling one particular food a superfood may give the consumer a sense that, that particular food is somehow superior and has the ability to yield extraordinary results. However, there are foods that are nutritious - consuming them results in better health outcomes while reducing the risk of developing non-communicable diseases. In general, I love plants because of their phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber that all positively impact our health on a molecular level.
3. How can food support my immune system?
The majority of our immune system is housed within our GI tract, about 70%, which means that every single food we ingest has the ability to influence our immunity in some way. Plants specifically have the ability to support our immune health. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help to up-regulate optimal immune function and health. Foods, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, leafy greens, eggs, cruciferous vegetables, sweet potatoes, and carrots, that supply the body with vitamins A, C, E, and D have the potential to positively impact how the body responds to certain illnesses. In addition, fiber found in many plant foods acts as the nourishment for the good bacteria that are located in the gut. A gut that is inhabited by a diverse colony of microbes is a happy gut.
4. Do I have to eat a certain way to be healthy?
There is no one size that fits all. That’s what makes each of us so great, we are unique and this also applies to our health. There is no one universal eating pattern that works for everyone, what makes one person feel their best may make another person feel their worst. In general, I lean into patterns of eating that are supportive of reducing the risk of developing non-communicable diseases. Those would be patterns that are centered around whole and minimally-processed foods.
5. Do supplements really work?
Supplements can absolutely be a part of a person’s routine. As with nutrition, there is no one standard supplement protocol. When deciding if supplements are appropriate, following the advice and guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner is key. In addition, safe supplementation is important, as not all supplements are created equal. It is important to look for supplement companies that are transparent with their manufacturing practices (look for certifications like Underwriter’s Laboratories), and exhaustively test their products to ensure what’s on the label is in the bottle, either independently or via third party verification certifiers such as Informed Choice and Informed Sport, the USP Dietary Supplement Verification Program or the NSF International. One of the reasons I love NOW is because they go above and beyond to ensure the safety and efficacy of every product they produce, from raw ingredient to finished product. I can really feel good knowing I can trust NOW to provide quality products that meet my nutritional needs. You can learn more about NOW’s Commitment to Quality.