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Vegetables in the Brassica family, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale are packed with phytochemicals that fight cancer, encourage the excretion of toxins from the body, and stimulate the liver. They have a plentiful supply of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants essential for good health. Avocadoes are a good source of unsaturated fats and vitamin E, both of which are skin-enhancing. Foods containing sulphur, such as eggs and garlic, protect against radiation and chemical pollutants, because sulphur-based amino acids scavenge free radicals and neutralise toxins; they also protect against the effect of radiation from mobile phones, x-rays, power lines and computers. Additionally, garlic reduces cholesterol and assists in blood thinning, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Plant oils contain essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are important for sustaining vitality as the body ages, and are beneficial for both heart and skin health. Dramatic improvements in skin tone and joint flexibility can be obtained through foods and supplements that contain EFAs. Omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9, found in fish or flaxseed oil, help the skin produce new collagen and elastin, contributing to a firmer, more youthful appearance. Gamma-linoleic acid, found in evening primrose oil, helps control rheumatoid arthritis and hormone regulation.

Vitamin C is an important component of cell repair and is essential for maintaining a healthy, resilient immune system. It assists with tissue growth and the healing of wounds, prevention of blood clotting, and helps curtail the effects of pollution on the body. One of its roles is to maintain collagen, which binds cells together, resulting in the reduction of facial wrinkles, therefore promoting a smooth complexion.

Vitamin E slows the ageing process and enhances immune function. It is known to help prevent many degenerative diseases, such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. Although vitamin E deficiency is rare, a deficiency could result in slow healing wounds and thread veins.

Adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D are essential for strong bones and the prevention of osteoporosis. Foods that contain rich supplies of calcium include milk, cheese, yoghurt, sesame seeds, almonds, and tofu. Vitamin D, also called 'the sunshine vitamin' is crucial for strong bones, and some exposure to sunlight (without sunscreen on) is essential for boosting the body’s store of vitamin D.

Toni Green is a Launceston-based naturopath, herbalist and health writer. It is her passion to pass on this knowledge of natural therapies to others so that they might live a stress-free life with health and vitality. Toni can be contacted at www.naturalhealthsolutions.net.au; toni.green57@iinet.net.au; or 0431 716 601.