More Color Equals More Health and Happiness
More Color = More Happiness?
I have been known to paint every wall in my home white, so embracing color does not always come naturally to me. Recently I have been redecorating my home and I have added more color. It makes me smile to see the vibrant colors. I even have a purple living room carpet!!! It sounds like something your grandmother might have in her home, but it looks amazing. I walk into the room and the unexpected color just makes me feel more lighthearted. Color in our diet and yoga practice can have similar effects. We can embrace more color and improve our health and happiness.
Let’s take a look at how each color can support our wellness.
Red is the color of the first chakra, which is located at the base of the spine. This chakra represents grounding energy. When we feel like life is out of control and we can’t seem to find any solid ground, this is the chakra to focus on. Seated yoga poses where you can focus on the base of the spine are good for the first chakra.
When you are seated in a chair, make sure you also place your feet solidly on the ground to allow energy to travel from the first chakra down to the soles of your feet and make connection with the ground. There were several years where I always sat with my legs crossed on any chair and had a difficult time placing my feet on the ground. These were also years where my life seemed to be out of control and I couldn’t figure out how to find solid direction. When I started placing my feet on the ground it felt uncomfortable at first but as I persisted I realized how helpful this was for me. It wasn’t something that worked immediately, but as I made the shift to more often let the soles of my feet rest on the ground, I gradually shifted to feeling more focus and choice in my life.
Red foods can have a similar grounding effect. Even better if they are root vegetables which come from the ground. Beets are an amazing grounding red vegetable. They come from the earth and impart this nature into your being after eating them. Even their taste indicates this nature with their real earthy taste.
The anti-oxidants in our vegetables give them their colors. This is why it is important to get many different colored vegetables to ensure you get a good variety of anti-oxidants. By eating the rainbow, you get a broad mix of anti-oxidants. Red vegetables contain the anti-oxidants lycopene and anthocyanins, which are both good for the heart. So, think red vegetables and heart health.
Orange is the color associated with the second chakra, which is located in the lower abdomen below the belly button. This is our center of creativity. Embrace your creative side with some yoga twists. You can practice twists seated or lying down. The best way to enhance the effects on the second chakra is to take deep breaths while in your twists to massage your organs in your lower abdomen.
When you think orange fruits and vegetables, think healthy eyes. Orange fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids and bioflavonoids, both of which are good for your eyes. If you want to get the most carotenoids or Vitamin A from your carrots try cooking them to release the carotenoids from the fiber matrix and then add a little olive oil for maximum absorption.
The third chakra color is yellow and this is our solar plexus or our power center located in the belly area. This is also our center of digestive fire or agni. Good yoga poses for the third chakra are core exercises. Here is a link to a short 5 minute video I did on an empowering yoga practice which focuses on owning your power and strengthening your connection to your third chakra.
Yellow fruits and vegetables also contain carotenoid and bioflavonoid anti-oxidants. The carotenoids in yellow fruits and vegetables are not Vitamin A, but lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids are anti-inflammatory and help prevent cancer.
The fourth chakra is the heart chakra and its color is green. Any yoga poses that open the chest area support the heart chakra. One of my favorites is upward dog. Every time we open up our chest to upward dog in a sun salutation we are releasing tension from the heart chakra. Try this nice morning flow practice to move through sun salutations and open your heart into updog.
Green vegetables are loaded with anti-oxidants! They are the powerhouse vegetables. The deeper green the vegetable, the higher the anti-oxidant content.
A few of the many anti-oxidants in green fruits and vegetables:
Lutein (anti-inflammatory, eye health)
indoles and phytoestrogens (both which help with liver health and hormone balance)
chlorophyll (digestion, skin)
folate (an important B vitamin)
phytosterols (can help with balancing cholesterol)
catechins in green tea (reduce risk of breast cancer)
glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables (anti-cancer)
The fitth chakra is blue and it is our throat chakra. This chakra is associated with our voice and ensuring we can express our feelings with ease and integrity. Mantra can be a great way to use your yoga practice to support the throat chakra. You can practice a simple mantra like Om and just repeat it out loud to yourself. This helps to exercise your voice and gives you practice at using it.
Blueberries are a really nutritious blue food. Add some blueberries to your yogurt or smoothies. Pterostilbene is found in blueberries and lowers cholesterol and supports brain health.
Purple is the color of the sixth chakra and is associated with our intuition. It is located at the third eye between the eyebrows. Meditation is a good way to get more in touch with your intuition. A great meditation for both the throat chakra and the sixth chakra and the brain is Kirtan Kriya. There is some evidence that this meditation may help prevent Alzheimer’s. Read more about it at The Alzheimer’s Foundation website: Kirtan Kriya
Purple grapes contain resveratrol which is good for brain health. Resveratrol reduces inflammation and blood sugar. Add some purple grapes into your morning smoothie to support cognition.
Another way to add more purple into your diet is with black rice. The purple black color comes from the anti-oxidant class, anthocyanins. The black rice is loaded with more anthocyanins than blueberries! Anthocyanins promote cardiovascular health, improve brain function, reduce inflammation, and prevent cancer. In a recent study, black rice anthocyanins were shown to reduce liver damage due to obesity by alleviating both oxidative stress and inflammation.
The seventh chakra is our crown chakra at the top of the head and its color is white. This chakra is associated with our connection with a higher power. Meditation strengthens this chakra.
When we think of white foods, we think of packaged less nutrient dense foods, but white foods can be therapeutic. There are several white foods with medicinal properties like garlic and mushrooms. Garlic contains allicin, which has anti-cancer and blood pressure-lowering effects. Allicin is produced in garlic which is exposed to air so after chopping your garlic allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking. The allicin in garlic is a powerful antibacterial and anti-viral compound.
Adding more color into your diet
Now that you are intrigued and want to add more color into your diet, how do you do this?
Lots of vegetables!
This is my number one advice to clients, “Eat more vegetables”.
The more colorful vegetables you eat the easier it will be to maintain a healthy weight and you will help prevent chronic disease.
You should strive for about 10 servings of vegetables per day. At first this seems daunting, but start with small steps. Add in a vegetable at lunch and then at snack, etc.
If you want to try a Rainbow Day, getting in all the colors of the rainbow in vegetables, I put together a plan for what this might look like below. I also attached one of my favorite recipes for greens. Super yummy!
So, have fun with colors – let your life and health take on more dimensions and experiences! Enjoy all of the colors of the rainbow and get a full variety of health promoting anti-oxidants.
Rainbow Day Vegetable Plan:
Breakfast – 2 servings of vegetables, green and orange
sautéed spinach and carrot with an egg on top
Snack – 1 serving of vegetables, red
red bell peppers with hummus
Lunch – 3 servings of vegetables, green, yellow, red
Salad with yellow bell pepper, beets, and cucumber – top with some nuts and a protein like salmon or tempeh
Snack – 1 serving of vegetables – green, yellow, and blue
Cucumber with avocado, lemon juice and salt on top
Handful of blueberries
Dinner – 3 servings of vegetables, white, orange, purple, green
Protein with cauliflower rice with roasted sweet potato and broccoli
Handful of blackberries
Rainbow Recipe Idea:
Greens with Caramelized Onions and Matchstick Carrots
1-2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of sea-salt
3 minced garlic cloves
1 cup matchstick carrots
1 small bunch (about 1lb.) greens
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea Salt and Pepper
1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent, add the garlic and carrots and cook until done.
2. Add the greens. If the greens are on the tougher side, a small amount of water may be added to “steam” the greens now until tender, with lid on.
3. Season with lemon juice and add salt if needed.
Adopted from Maryland University of Integrative Health Cooking Lab