8 gr e a t gr e e n s ! Spirulina also helps pump up the immune system. Researchers at the University of California, Davis found that adding spirulina to cultured immune system cells significantly increases the production of infection-fighting cells called cytokines. Other research shows that this green food balances the immune response. Sea Vegetables Kelp: If you’re a fan of sushi, you’re likely familiar with kelp’s culinary uses. But it turns out that this common seaweed is particularly rich in B vitamins, which play a critical role in cellular metabolism. Because it absorbs nutrients from its surrounding environment, kelp contains more than 15 amino acids and is also a great source of calcium, magnesium, copper, boron, zinc, and manganese. As a result, this mineral-rich seaweed helps maintain pH balance and bone density. Perhaps kelp’s biggest claim to fame is its high iodine content, which supports thyroid function. This is critical for an efficient energy- producing metabolism. Fiber FOS: When it comes to the care and feeding of the beneficial bacteria in your gut, it’s important to provide them with a hospitable home. And, like any houseguest, you have to feed them. Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)—a type of fiber found in many vegetables— provide the food that the microbiome (microflora) need to thrive. Sometimes called “prebiotics,” FOS are naturally occurring carbohydrates that are not digested or absorbed by humans, but they are the perfect fuel to support the growth of friendly microflora in your digestive tract. Brown Rice: Another excellent source of prebiotic fiber, brown rice supports both digestive and cardiovascular health. Specifically, the nutrients in brown rice encourage the growth and activity of healthy gut bacteria. What’s more, this good-for-you grain is a rich source of magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6, and an excellent source of manganese. Manganese is an important mineral that helps digest fats. The Benefits of Sprouted Grains Sprouted grains are whole-grain seeds that have just begun to sprout. Not actual plants yet, these sprouted seeds are rich in bioavailable nutrients like folate, iron, magnesium, protein, vitamin C, zinc, and essential amino acids like lysine. They are also easily digestible. The grasses that grow from these sprouted grains—specifically barley and wheat grasses—are also gluten-free when harvested responsibly since the gluten protein is present in the seeds and not the grasses. But the goodness of grains isn’t just limited to those that are sprouted. Check the label for nutrient-rich amaranth, buckwheat, chia, millet, and quinoa. Added to a sprouted-grains blend, these ancient foods can ensure that you’re getting added goodness with every serving.