“You are what you eat.” How many times have you heard that old adage? It probably has never been more true than now. Many health experts will agree that our Standard American Diet (SAD) has caused an overall deterioration in health. Add in: exposure to toxins and lack of exercise and you’ve got the perfect recipe for chronic diseases.
Most diseases that plague us: cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, arthritis, and more–have been linked to inflammation. There are many causes of inflammation and actions you can take to mitigate the damages.
People suffering from chronic disease often find little relief from prescription medication or experience terrible side effects. Many experience pain and fatigue, making exercise difficult, and causing weight gain. It becomes a a vicious cycle if not interrupted.
Many people living the SAD lifestyle simply don’t know any better; they are “nutritionally challenged”. Most of us are disconnected from our food, not thinking too much about where it comes from or taking much time to prepare a meal. Finally, each one of us is different. What bothers you might not bother the next person.
If you want to eat with the intention of healing or to gain vitality, there is a good news: when given a chance, the body can heal itself. What we first must overcome is the “quick fix” mentality. While results may not come “quick”, simple changes in your diet and lifestyle often present real improvements within weeks. As Hippocrates said so long ago, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
There are 4 basic areas related to naturally restoring your health and vitality:.
- Removing Toxicity
- Good Nutrition
- Balanced Lifestyle
Area 1: Toxicity
Toxins are found all around us, and when they accumulate in the body, they create inflammation, which causes and exacerbates disease. When you “detox”, you cleanse internally, which eliminates excess fat, toxic accumulation, mucus, and parasites. After a detox, you’ll absorb nutrients much better. Your body uses vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to reduce inflammation. This creates a vitality cycle instead of a vicious cycle!
Before you detox, make sure you evaluate your toxic load and nutrient needs with a health professional who can guide you with surveys and lab tests.
Once you begin eliminating toxins, don’t put them back in! Follow these steps to help keep toxins out of your system:
- Buy organic produce, especially those listed on the” Dirty Dozen list”.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods as they are likely to contain additives, various toxins, and way too much sugar and salt.
- Use high quality water that is filtered and add trace minerals if using reverse osmosis to drink and as cooking water
- Pay attention to ingredients listed in your personal care products and home cleaning products. Your lungs breathe in and your skin absorbs all those chemicals!
Area 2: Nutrition
Make no mistake, WHERE you get your calories from is just as important as how many calories you consume. When your food is NUTRIENT DENSE and BALANCED, it nourishes and satisfies. Nutrient dense food contains more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that combat free radicals and inflammation in the body.
Follow a balanced way of eating that fuel your body with a good proportion of fats, complex carbohydrates and protein.
Keep it simple: even if you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, use a few ingredients at a time but select everything whole.
For instance, rub some chicken breast with a specialty spice mix of your likeness (cajun, Mediterranean, Chinese, garam masala) and grill with olive oil. Accompany with chopped mini peppers, a green salad.
Be aware of food allergens as we have a tendency to over-consume them and then develop an intolerance to them. Symptoms are often insidious or bothersome and we can’t seem to pinpoint why we are tired, bloated, or constipated. There is no valid test available for food intolerance. It is up to you to pay attention to your bothers, keep a food journal, and eventually undergo a food elimination diet.
Peanut (with symptoms of flatulence or nausea)
Gluten which is present everywhere in our food supply (all breads, pizzas, cookies, crackers, mustard, gravy, condiments, beer, etc…) with symptoms of bloating, headaches, or feeling tired.
Lactose intolerance (yogurt, milk, cheese) with symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, or nausea.
Area 3: Lifestyle
Tossing toxins and straightening out your diet doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Life happens and can be a distraction at best–a deterrent at worst. You’ll reach your goals of feeling healthier and make things happen for you when:
- You have a clear vision on everything you want to change in your life
- When you set realistic goals to modify your lifestyle for the best
- Change your habits, one at a time, slowly but steadily
- Plan your meals and healthy snacks so you don’t derail from your goals
- Avoid take outs start and start cooking with whole ingredients
- Move – even if you don’t go to the gym: take a brisk walk, dance, bicycle, swim!
- Get enough sleep
- Manage stress and express your anxieties and concern to people you thrust
Little habits, practiced over time, become second nature. Everyone is different physically and was also raised with different attitudes and beliefs about food and life in general. Everyone has different challenges–from chronic disease to obesity to out-of-control stress. However, when you give your body the “medicine” it needs, it begins to heal.
Wishing the best of luck to get the courage and the tenacity to give yourself a chance to strive and be healthier.