As a naturopathic nutritionist, I am committed to holistic health and wellbeing. Achieving long-term health and energy is a balancing act and I believe that this starts with the thoughts that you put into your mind, as well as the all-important food that you put into your body.
Many studies have been conducted on the mind-body connection. What we know for sure is that a positive attitude works – but we need to remember to nurture it every single day.
Eating wholesome food and avoiding sugar and toxins are obvious tools for great holistic health but how can you deal with the consequences of negative thinking, self-judgement and chronic stress?
Experts rate exercise, sufficient sleep, controlling negative thoughts and building a strong social support as some of the best ways to decrease stress and boost immunity – so paying attention to your feelings and needs is as vital as drinking enough water and avoiding junk food.
Winning ways to promote good holistic health:
1. MANAGE YOUR MIND
Our thoughts become our reality. Have you ever noticed that what you focus your attention on, whether positive or negative, often comes into fruition? How often to you find yourself ruminating over the problems and drama in your life? Constantly worrying about our weight, and thinking about craving unhealthy foods, drives us towards DOING what we keep thinking about.
We need to manage our thoughts consciously, rather than allowing them to manage us.
1. Try to focus on what works well in your life.
2. Practice Gratitude on a daily basis, as this focusses the mind on what is good in your life.
3. Focus on developing good, healthy habits and use vivid imagination to create the life and body that you want.
2. FEED YOUR GUT MICROBIOME
Why, you may wonder?
Research has shown that there is a strong connection between your gut and your brain, called the gut-brain axis. The vagus nerve connects these 2 organs, and the microbes in your gut work in synergy with your body to produce some important neuro-chemicals, such as serotonin (feel good hormone) as well as nutrients that nourish us. (Source: “Gut-Brain Axis and the Microbiome”)
However, we need to reciprocate the relationship by feeding these microbes with plenty of plant-food and fibre. So, by eating 8-10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day you will maintain a balanced eco-system that will keep you healthy.
The release of endorphins during exercise promotes a sense of wellbeing, which has the added benefit of boosting your immune system.
During exercise, the lymphatic system – a network of tissues and organs that helps your body to eliminate toxins and waste – is mobilised. Its main role is to transport lymph fluid, which contains infection-fighting white blood cells. Unlike the blood, which is automatically pumped around the body by the heart, lymph fluid only moves if you do. It requires muscle action to pump it around the body.
Walking, running or any other muscle-moving activity also dramatically reduces stress by ‘working off steam’ when you are upset or angry. With the release of endorphins, your body receives a natural mood boost, resulting in reduced stress levels, which in turn puts less pressure on your immune system.
4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Achieving better sleep can lead to so many health improvements. Good sleep hygiene requires routine, so aim to go to bed at the same time each night, ideally by 10-11pm, as the best sleep comes before midnight.
To aim for the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night, avoid caffeine, digital screens and ensure there are no disturbances, i.e light or noise. It is also better to allow 2 hours after eating, to digest food properly before going to bed.
5. FOCUS ON SELF-CARE
Make an effort to do something nice for yourself every day. Neglecting your own needs adds unnecessary stress to the system, resulting in increased vulnerability to illness.
Women, in particular, tend to put their own needs last, especially if they’re caring for children and/or elderly parents. If you battle with guilt when you take an hour off to read, go for a walk or have a coffee with a friend, remind yourself that if your bucket is empty, you’ll have nothing left to give anyone else. Simple, but effective.
Did you know that you cut in half, the chances of catching a cold by Meditating. A University of Wisconsin study showed that people who practised mindfulness – a type of meditation or mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations – noted 13 fewer illnesses and took 51 fewer sick days.
Researchers concluded that this reduced the physical effects of stress, which is known to weaken the immune system.
7. IT TAKES A VILLAGE…
Building strong social connections has proven psychological and physiological benefits. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, having a ‘support group’ – no matter how big or small – boosts immunity by creating ‘stress buffers’.
Being able to share stress or concerns with close family or friends provides an opportunity for outside support and advice, which alleviates a sense of being alone in your situation.
Ongoing stress is also a contributing factor to many chronic diseases, and is seriously not helpful if you are trying to balance hormones or lose weight.
If you would like to learn more about holistic health, how to improve your gut-brain axis and nourish your body, I warmly invite you to book in for a free 30-minute health review call to see if a personalised nutrition and lifestyle plan might help.
You can book yourself directly into my diary by clicking right HERE.