The foundations of health.
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
There are a lot of things in the news about what you can do to get healthy. Have a routine, get enough sleep, eat this and take these. But true health is found when we start looking at our bodies as a whole. When something like too much stress enters our lives, it effects more than just our mood. There's a trickle down effect that begins to show up in multiple areas.
So... how DO we take care of ourselves as a whole? Just like a building needs a stable foundation to begin with, so do our bodies. That's why a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner will always begin with the foundations. We start with a properly prepared, nutrient dense, whole food diet.
The phrase "nutrient dense" has become pretty buzz worthy over the last several years, but what's with this "properly prepared" business? The way we prepare our food makes a big difference in how our body reacts to or uses it. Soaking grains, nuts and seeds before we eat them makes them much easier to digest. Cooking your meat in a heat stable fat, such as coconut oil or butter, reduces the chances of eating oxidized (containing unstable free radicals) fats. Whole food simply means foods in their unprocessed, natural state. But even the best diet can bring frustration if the other foundations are off.
After your fabulously healthy food, comes digestion. After all, we aren't just what we eat, we are what we absorb and utilize. Healthy digestion begins in the brain. When we are in a relaxed mindset, chew our food properly and eat nutrients in a healthy ratio, things run a lot smoother. We need proper stomach pH to fully digest foods and trigger other important processes further down the line. For example, if we don't eat enough healthy fat, the gall bladder won't release bile and we end up not absorbing the fat we DO eat. Fats and proteins help us make hormones and all of that healthy food gives us vitamins, minerals and more for our bodies to perform (and feel) their best. There's a reason digestion is the first foundation. If digestion is off, it tends to mess up everything that DEPENDS on it.
Next we have blood sugar. This one can wreak some real havoc in a hurry! Consuming too many processed carbohydrates, or eating them without good amounts of protein and fat, leads to a spike in glucose. Our bodies like to keep that level in check. Enter the pancreas and insulin. Insulin is a hormone that doesn't just lower blood sugar, it's the key that allows glucose into the cells for use as energy. What we don't use for energy is converted into a storage form and hangs out in the liver and muscles until needed. If there is TOO much left over, it becomes triglycerides. When the pancreas makes a lot of insulin (especially on a regular basis) our cells get used to it being around and they don't respond to it as well. Insulin can also cause some pretty nasty inflammation in high doses, so it's best to have consistency.
I have mentioned fats a few times already and MAN, are they important! Not only do they play a role in feeling full and making hormones, but they are absolutely essential to the inflammation process. The body uses inflammation as part of the healing process. We have to inflame before we can "un-inflame." When it comes to the TYPE of fats you should eat, I like a different approach than "good vs. bad." Eat good quality, form good sources and in the right balance. This includes eating a variety of organic or grass fed meat, fish and poultry, nuts, seeds and things like coconut oil, butter, avocado and olive oils. Hydrogenated oils and those from GMO sources should be avoided.
We have arrived at mineral balance! Bone health is just the beginning of what we need minerals for. From blood pH to muscle contraction and electrical activity of the heart, all of these require the proper minerals. Calcium usually gets the biggest mention, but most of us lack the co-factors we need to actually use the calcium we DO have. There's a really handy acronym we use to remember those. SSHOVED. No, that's not a typo. It stands for Systemic pH, Stomach acid, Hydration (and electrolytes) Other minerals, Vitamins, Essential fatty acids and Digestion. So, if you are taking a quality mineral supplement and still not seeing results, take a look at those co-factors.
Last, but definitely not least, is hydration. Proper hydration effects how we make stomach acid, the way our muscles and nerves function, how hormones and nutrients move through the body, joint health and much more. In general, it's recommended to drink half of your body weight (in ounces) of water per day. More if you're going to be sweating or have consumes diuretics. If you've tried that and just end up in the bathroom way too often, try adding some electrolytes to your water. It helps it get into the cells and tissues, where we need it.
Now that you have a good grasp of where we begin with nutritional therapy, maybe you have some questions about what comes after the foundations. If you'd like to find out how it can benefit you, feel free to email me any questions you or book a consultation so we can discuss your health concerns.