A well nourished body, can sustain a strong immune system that can easily fight off a virus or recover from an injury. It can support a well functioning brain that is focused, solves problems, and is creative. In addition to that it provides emotional clarity and spiritual awareness.
We're living in one of the most extraordinary and significant phases of human life and human development. Science and technology have given most of us access to an incredible array of benefits and options in life. We have the freedom to choose where we live and work, what clothes we wear and what we watch next on Netflix. Most importantly though we get to choose what our next meal will be, and the options are anything but limited. Yet somehow we are losing the connection to our innate intelligence, the voice within each of us that knows what our bodies, our temples really need to stand tall and grow stronger. It's the voice of our intuitive selves, our all-knowing guide to what our body, mind and soul truly need to flourish.
It's easy to understand and important to retain the simple truth that the food we eat, the water we drink as well as the books we read, the movies we watch and the music we listen to are our main sources of energy, our fuel. Our ever-adapting, brilliant bodies use this fuel to power their infinitely complicated functions and run a healthy organism. So it is our responsibility to provide them with the right quality and quantity of fuel. Through a well balanced diet we can provide our bodies with the necessary energy and nutrients it needs to thrive!
Your body sends you messages in a variety of ways, some are easy to notice like hunger and cravings for certain foods and some are more subtle like physical discomfort, mood swings and high or low energy levels. Each of these messages, can provide us with a clear indication on whether our favourite food is helping us build a strong immune system or not. Let me make this very clear, there is not one rule that applies to all, as each body, each organism is unique and might have very distinct reactions to different foods. There are though some general guidelines that can help us improve our physical wellbeing and bring clarity in both an emotional as well as a spiritual level.
Listening to your body may sound simple enough but if we haven't been taught how to pay attention or how to use the information we receive then it can get a bit complicated. Either way, it's your body and if anyone can pay the appropriate attention to it, it's you! Just by learning to listen to its needs, questioning and intuitively acting upon them, you can improve your overall wellbeing as well as prevent complications and promote faster recovery. Prevention after-all is better than the cure.
Note: There can be multiple factors that contribute to our overall wellbeing and it's equally important to pay as much attention to them, however, our focus here will be on what we eat and drink. Also as I'm vegan, all food suggestions I offer are plant based. If you are vegetarian, pescatarian or omnivore, there will be more options available for you to choose from!
Let's start from the most obvious one, the one that requires no focus or inner searching, the skin. Our skin, the outmost layer of our body is a fast and efficient translator of what's going on inside. Things like pimples, rashes or eczema are all signs that something is just not right and many times our nutritional habits can be the main cause of such issues.
High sugar and trans fat foods, together with gluten and dairy products are common causes of skin conditions and can induce skin allergies. If your diet includes these try reducing them and ideally replacing them with healthy alternatives. Fruits like apples, all berries, cherries and plums are great ways to get your healthy dose of sugar and also stock up on some quercetin which is a powerful antioxidant and antihistamine. Increase your intake of dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and beetroot leaves by making salads with them and make sure you use good quality olive oil; how about adding a spoon of mixes seeds or nuts in there as well? Also if you can't stop eating bread because it's delicious, then at least choose sourdough, that way you're getting some probiotics with it that help both your gut and skin.
Gut and the poop taboo
Yes poop! I mean, everything that goes in eventually has to come out right? and as much as we don't like talking about it, our stool is a great way to figure out if what we're putting in our bodies is making us healthy and strong or not. I won't go into much detail here (if you want to know more, here's an article or maybe a video for you) but the simple rule is that constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain or bloating are all there to tell you something's wrong. Luckily there are many things you can eat to easily level up your gut health. Think Probiotics and prebiotics! Probiotics can be found in most fermented foods, think kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and my favourite of all kombucha, all of which will keep you both healthy and in style! Prebiotic fiber is necessary for great gut health and can easily be found in garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas and whole grains.
Here's where it gets a tiny bit tricky. The brain is an immensely complex and vital organ with endless functions that affect not only all other organs in the body but also our spiritual and emotional state. Simple headaches, forgetfulness or memory loss, other forms of brain damage but also an inability to meditate can all be signs telling us we need to change our diet. It's crucial to realise how the food we eat directly influences the way our brain works, so providing it with the necessary nutrients can help not only prevent brain damage but it can also promote brain cell regeneration.
Firstly lets think of energy! Our main source of energy is glucose which is found in sugar. There are 3 main types of sugar, sucrose, fructose and glucose. Fructose is found mostly in fruits, vegetables and nearly all processed foods and glucose which is the healthier and least sweet of the 3 can be found in all major carbohydrates. So start by cutting down on all those processed foods, ready meals and junk food even on smoothies and juices and replace them with whole, fresh foods. Here we're looking for good carbs like legumes (lentils, beans, peas), whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice) and tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes).
We also need antioxidants like turmeric, nuts, seeds, berries, and pure organic cacao. Omega 3, zinc, vitamin D and magnesium are extremely vital in the healthy function of the Neocortex which is the largest part of the cerebral cortex and it's the area that facilitates creativity, learning, imagination as well as where we can experience our interconnectedness and find enlightenment. That's why make sure you add to your diet nuts, seeds and seaweed for omega 3, tofu and linseeds for zinc, spinach and chocolate for magnesium and plenty of sun, raw Chanterelle mushrooms and fortified milks for your vitamin D.
Our emotions both affect and are affected by our diets. From a young age we have been associating specific foods with emotions and it's something that we continue doing throughout our lives. On one hand we have learned to use food as a way to cope with certain situations and on the other, specific foods trigger our rewards centres and other parts of the brain. To try to remove these natural connections would be fruitless still what we can do is make sure we are conscious of how our moods may affect what we choose to eat and the other way around.
When feeling tired or on the verge of a burnout it's likely we'll crave high sugar foods as they offer an instant energy boost and trigger our rewards centre, like telling us "well done, keep going". Foods high in fat or creamy foods like ice-cream or junk food often have this false soothing effect especially if we feel sad or lonely. In any situation like these it's crucial to ask ourselves why it is that we're craving this particular food. Is it to satisfy the lack of a certain emotion or maybe to suppress our anger? If sometimes it seems we're losing control of our emotions and thoughts, we still have full control over what we eat and drink so instead of dipping your spoon in the Nutella jar, try dipping it in a jar of this Vegan Sugarless Nootela. Introduce nut butters, homemade bars, dried fruit or coconut yoghurt, all of which help soothe and uplift the soul.
Eating intentionally and not habitually, questioning our cravings and researching about our physical needs will strengthen our immune system, improve our mental abilities and bring emotional and spiritual clarity. Learn to love, trust and listen to your body and it will guide you towards inner peace and harmony.
Love & Joy,