Diet and lifestyle are of utmost importance if we are to reach our goals of optimal health and longevity. In industrialised cultures our lifestyles have become consumer driven. Collectively we are chronically overfed and yet under nourished. Foods may have low levels of nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. We commonly consume foods that are highly processed and overcooked or of poor quality and little nutritional value. Our bodies are further taxed by environmental pollution and stressful lifestyles. Today we are challenged with increased incidences of cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, immune disorders, stress related illnesses and depression.
Human physiology, biochemistry, pathology and anatomy are intricately interwoven. Naturopaths support the notion that the body can heal itself (vis medicatrix naturae) if given the correct building blocks. What are these essential elements that offer a long and healthy life? The key is balance and harmony in all things and we achieve this by ensuring that where possible the following components are present.
- Fresh high quality food and pure water
- High quality, correctly prescribed nutrients, supplements and natural medicines as required
- Fresh air, light and sunshine
- Adequate deep restful sleep
- Meaningful close personal relationships
- Social interaction with family, friends, community and pets
- Movement in the form of stretching, exercise, dance, sport and recreation.
- Positive attitude and thoughts – love, gratitude, joy, hope, acceptance and appreciation
- Releasing negative thoughts and past hurts and practising forgiveness
- Creativity, art, music and singing
- Laughter, humour and fun
- Relaxation, meditation or prayer
- Enjoyable and rewarding work
Diet & Nutrition
To obtain optimum health and healing through diet and nutrition our primary intake should ideally include organic whole foods that are as fresh as possible to ensure maximum nutritional value and life force.
Our basic nutritional requirements are divided into
Complex carbohydrates are found in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and beans. They are high in dietary fibre and bulk and lower in calories than simple carbohydrates. Dietary fibre helps to stabilise blood sugar and lower serum cholesterol. It also acts as a cleanser in the intestines and transports many harmful substances from the body that if left would cause disease.
Simple refined carbohydrates are sugars. High sugar intake leads to an over stimulation of the pancreas and may cause hypoglycaemia, adrenal exhaustion and eventually diabetes
So what does a healthy diet include?
- A variety of fresh, raw or cooked vegetables, salad and fruits.
- Whole grains including wheat, barley, rye, oats, millet and rice.
- Legumes and pulses including beans, chickpeas and lentils.
- Dairy products including yogurt and cheese.
- Healthy fats in moderate amounts: olive oil, ghee, coconut oil, butter, sesame oil, flax seed oil
- Soy products including tofu and tempeh.
- Fish especially those high in oil such as salmon, herrings and sardines.
- Nuts, seeds and nut butters
- Fresh herbs and spices
- Beverages should include water, herbal teas, and fresh fruit or vegetable juices.
Things to avoid or reduce
- Most animal products should be restricted
- Simple carbohydrates eliminated
- Trans fats and hydrogenated fats
- Processed, canned and most packaged foods including soft drinks as they often contain high amounts of sugar, salt, fat, additives, flavourings, colourings, preservatives and in some cases toxic substances.
- Avoid or reduce caffeine and alcohol
- Dairy or gluten is not well tolerated by some people
What is the best way to incorporate these diet and lifestyle changes?
Making a personal commitment to improving your diet and lifestyle can be a powerful experience. Introduce change slowly focusing your attention on increasing healthy choices and cut down on processed foods, excess proteins and other things gradually. In this way you will avoid feeling deprived and are more likely to continue the journey.
Your body has intelligence and by being mindful and present when you are eating it will begin to direct you to healthier choices and to the foods that you actually need at any given moment. The more you pay attention to what and how much you really want to eat and to how the food you have eaten leaves you feeling afterward, the more your body will guide you.
Watch your thoughts and feelings and choose those that make you feel more positive in any give moment. Remember you and you alone are in charge of what you think and feel. Choose to be active and social whenever possible, get outside into nature and enjoy its beauty and engage in creative pursuits regularly.
Your Naturopathic practitioner can assist you in personalising a program based on your individual needs, body type or blood group and your state of health. This may involve the removal of certain foods and the use of rotation diets. Your practitioner may prescribe additional supplements, nutritional medicine and other remedies or modalities including body work, counselling, exercise or meditation that will support you in your pursuit of better health and well being.