Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a health care professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.
The healing power of nature
Naturopathic medicine is based on the belief that the healing power of nature is within each one of us. This belief is empowering! Having faith that your body is created well can be applied to healthy lifestyle and food choices.
If you trust in your body’s design and ability to heal, then why do you need the perfect diet? Our bodies are designed to run on real food but allow for flexibility. Rather than focus your energy on living within strict rules, try to live in greater alignment with what your body needs overall. No perfection, just humanity.
Live mindfully and notice how you feel after making any choice.Consciously design your schedule to live your values. Make sure you have time for what feeds your soul.
Notice that you get irritable and maybe make less than ideal life choices following a 4 hour night’s sleep? Prioritize sleep: get 7-8 hours a night and watch what happens to your mood, your body, and decision-making.
Eat real food and notice how you feel in response.
Focus on adding foods to your diet rather than taking away. Eat more foods in their natural state: higher fiber, more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, wild-caught fish, and/or organic meats.
When you eat processed or artificial foods, notice how you feel. Do you get headaches after eating highly processed foods or artificially sweetened beverages? If so, respect yourself and minimize these options.
Do you feel more tired after eating rather than feeling fueled and invigorated? Consider keeping a journal of your food and mood and look for patterns. Feed yourself what nourishes you, not what drains you.
Move your body each day.
Your lymphatic system is in charge of draining ‘crud’ out of circulation to be eliminated by the body. The more you move your muscles, the better your body is able to shed its waste.
Movement is not and should not be grueling. Your body can see excess exercise as a stressor that drains its vitality.
Aim for 30 minutes per day of moderate movement. That can be walking, swimming, biking, gardening, or doing body-weight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, etc. Two 15 minute sessions a day add up.
Breathe, pace yourself and encourage relaxation of your nervous system.
Your body responds to emotional, physical, mental, spiritual stress by increasing heart rate and more shallow breathing, taking focus away from your body’s core functions.
When you are in a more relaxed state, you can ‘rest and digest;’ that’s when your digestive and immune systems work best. If you are eating when multi-tasking or stressed, your body isn’t taking the time and energy to digest and absorb your food well.
Take five deep belly breaths before each meal and simply pay attention to your food while eating. Smell, appreciate the beauty, chew well, take time in gratitude for the nourishment.
Minimize your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
Our food supply can be a significant source of potentially harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes the Clean 15/ Dirty Dozen list (ewg.org/foodnews) every year to help guide you to choose foods with the least amount of pesticide residue.
Did you know that the US hasn’t updated its laws regarding ingredients in personal care products since the 1930s? That means that Europe and Canada are way ahead of us in protecting their consumers from chemicals that can alter hormone function or cause cancer. Use the Skin-Deep database (ewg.org/skindeep) to look up your current shampoos, lotions, deodorants, and cosmetics and consider switching to safer alternatives.
Feel connected to something greater.
It’s okay to feel alone, not lonely. Invest in relationships with people who are supportive of you and your mindful, healthy life.
Take time for prayer, meditation, nature activities, and/or personal and community relationships.
Mindful living can result in a greater sense of wellbeing and health. It’s much easier and more enjoyable than rigid dieting and restrictions. You only get one life in this body – tune in and get the most out of it.
Dr WendyLeigh White
Licensed naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, educator