Our default mode is of OPTIMUM HEALTH.
This is how we are designed to be, our lifestyles and environments enhance this or move us away from this baseline.
Like an elastic band, our body is in constant struggle trying to pull us back to what it knows is best for us, often our lifestyle choices tug against this, with each pull adding strain and pressure taking us so far from wellbeing that we can forget what it was like to feel energised and well.
Eventually, our body cannot sustain this resistance, in constant tug of war, the strained elastic band snaps and the body drifts into wearily into disease. This is the sad reality of many diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease to name only two.
I am amazed however at how battle hardy our bodies really are, it takes a great deal to push us over the edge into disease and even then, after all the damage we inflict on our bodies, our inner evolutionary drive is to keep fighting, trying to claw back even just to an in-between place of pseudo-health where it tries to adapt to our lifestyles and tries to keep us going.
What has astounded me, even more, is how much we can do with simple food choices to help heal our body and pick ourselves up again to return to what we know is inherently where we belong, in Optimum Health.
I welcome you to join me on my journey back there.
So where do we start?
With so many diet books on the market all touting to be the best for us; how do we know which diet and celebrity to buy and follow?
I have had a long fascination with how food is intricately linked to our experience of the world and the quality of our life.
The more we study food and its effects on the body, the more we are realising how the food we consume can have direct effects on general wellbeing and health.
What I am reading and discovering about nutritional science is mind-blowing. I think the biggest light-bulb moment for me was realising that despite all the new claims that the current fashionable diet can make you slim and healthy in 21 days…there is a fundamental flaw in them all.
As unique as our fingerprint, genetic make-up, our lifestyles, our sleep patterns and even down to our choice of pyjamas…we are All DIFFERENT.
The one-diet-fits-all industry is selling an image, an end product of perceived health, radiance and perfect form, by the latest celebrity that has managed to achieve this desired look…and we want to know how we can do it too.
For many years I was led to believe that there was just one path that led to optimum health.
However from a great deal of research and study that has only just scraped the surface, I am beginning to understand that there are many different routes on this journey of optimum health and each path must be chosen based on the individual’s unique needs, lifestyle, environment and individual makeup and most importantly ability to get there.
Personalised nutrition takes into account what makes us who we are and starts where we are now. It takes into account our sleep patterns, emotional wellbeing, work environment, stress, social connectivity, genetic makeup, together with an in-depth assessment of what we eat, digest and absorb.
All these things can affect our overall health, this just highlights the huge benefits emotional wellbeing has on our immune health for example:
“Happy people tend to be Well people”.
-Dr Candace Pert, Neuroscientist and Pharmacologist.
It has been shown that happy people tend to get less colds…up to 65% LESS colds. This was researched by Dr Pert and found that the high levels of the hormone Dopamine, found in the happier group, blocked COLD viruses and stopped them from taking hold of healthy cells and causing damage.
Perhaps there could be a possible link between our escalating incidence of S.A.D (1 in 3 thought to be affected by Seasonal Affected Disorder in the UK) and the annual flu epidemic (each year proving to be worst than the year before) with dropping levels of vitamin D also playing a part.
These findings linking emotional wellbeing and health are so exciting for me as it proves that we are designed to be well, we are designed to be happy and we just need to remember how to get back there and just let our bodies take care of us in the way they are designed to.
What is Optimum Health?
Optimum health is personal and has a different construct for each one of us, from sustaining the metabolic needs of a new mother; needing quick and easy nutritious meals to nourish her healing body and energy to keep up with her offspring to my young-at-heart father, for example, trying to keep up with his grandchildren wanting to maintain a good level of mobility and heart health. Their energy intake, vitamin and mineral requirements will differ considerably, both needing perhaps a different dietary makeup of the food groups to support their individual lifestyle and metabolic needs.
In the absence of a personalised nutritional programme put together by a specialist, which I would recommend for anyone who has specific health goals, I have drawn together the core principles of what research has shown should make up the foundations of what we choose to eat on a daily basis.
So what diet are you on?
Rather than approach our ‘diet’ as Low Carb or High Protein, with a singular focus on 1 or 2 food groups, I would like to start a movement towards ‘A Recipe for Health’ and away from the concept of what we think of when we say ‘Diet’.
I’d like to change the mindset from choosing a ‘Diet’ based on the 21 days get-thin-quick claim to
a ‘Way of Living’, a different way of thinking about WHAT we choose to eat and WHY …because we now know and have proved that it matters.
I believe it is empowering to think of food as energy, as information that codes each of our cells that make up who we are and who we will become- We have the power to Harm or Heal our body.
The word Diet stems from Greek for “a manner of living” or “Way of Life”.
It also has it’s origins in the latin for “A Day’s journey”
I think this is a beautiful, holistic and healing way to think of what we eat. It cannot be separated from our journey, our lifestyle, our needs and essentially who we are.
Our Way of Life is determined by our work hours, break times/lunch hours, family meal times, shopping schedules and perhaps also our social obligations. For me it has orientated around time, time to plan, time to shop, time to prepare and time to eat. I have always put our boys first and give them the best I can with the knowledge I have at the time. As a result, my diet has fallen to the wayside and become on-the-move grab and go with no thought at all on supporting my nutritional needs.
Having just returned back from Greece with no worries about shopping, cooking and preparing, endless mouthwatering colourful salads and healthy food choices with the time to sit and eat them, I was truly in food heaven.
I have fairly quickly noticed the drop in my energy levels and general wellbeing as I have reverted back to my non-existent dietary structure on returning home.
This is incredibly frustrating as I know what I should be eating and we make sure our boys are nutritionally well served…so what is my excuse? None.
Writing this, as I have found with all my writing, is making me hold myself much more accountable to myself and my family and the wider community that I aim to serve. This is the push that I need to get me back to looking after myself again. No excuses.
What’s your Recipe For Health?
In the posts to follow:
- The core fundamentals of my Recipe for Health and breaking down what food choices over a day should include and simplifying it down to what our plate should look like.
- How many carbs, what type of fat, how much protein? I aim to break it down from the best knowledge that we have so far and is always being updated.
- Practical ways we can incorporate good healthful practices into our daily lives effortlessly so this Recipe for Health becomes our Way of Living.
- Discussion about the fascinating stories of the Blue Zones where populations regularly live healthfully OVER 100. What are they doing right? How we can put it into action in our everyday lives.
- Major causes of disease and mortality and what science has shown we can do with nutrition.
Very excited to share so much.
I hope you will join me.