Being International Women’s Day what better opportunity to talk about BALANCE! It's not a rant about how we should fight for balance in society and women's power movement (I will save that for another day) but how to cultivate balance within through Nutrition!
There is a lot of talk in the media about equality, women gender bias and many other related issues that are all relevant and need a platform, however my intention with this weekly journal entry is a pragmatic HEALTH approach; how we cultivate and maintain balance holistically foremost through what we eat.
There are 4 basic principles of” Balanced Diet”;
Variety, Wholefoods, Unprocessed, Individuality.
These principles ensure that a diet is nutritionally all-encompassing; holistic. By fueling our bodies with nutritious food and cultivating mindfulness in all areas of our lives, we can create a balanced approach to healthy living.
VARIETY - Including a diverse range of foods from the different food groups ensures you are getting each of the essential nutrients for good health, keeping in mind the recommended amount.
Diversity is key, as foods within the same food group contain different nutrients.
For example strawberries are high in vitamin c, essential for immunity, collagen formation and enhance absorption of iron.
Whereas banana’s b group vitamins are involved in energy production, metabolism and production of blood cells.
Therefore ensuring a diverse range of food ensures the largest possible range of nutrients in your diet that serve a range of processes within our bodies.
WHOLEFOODS- Eating foods in their most natural state or as close to as possible ensure that we are ingesting the goodness of the entire food.
For example a whole grain bread rather than milled into fine flour. The outside of the grain contains many essential nutrients and the fibre slows down the glycaemic load into our blood stream. So no sugar spikes and drastic drops.
The fibre intake when consuming whole foods feeds the microbiome – good bacteria- in our gut, creates a big bulky gel that binds to and pushes through the products in our digestive tract. Essentially the more fibre, the bulkier the poop, bigger urge to go and results in an easier evacuation of waste.
UNPROCESSED- As a general rule, the less processed a food is and the most like its natural state, the higher the nutrition content. The less processed the less preservatives, colours, flavours or additives it will contain.
Where possible, buying organic, will reduce your ingestion of foods sprayed with fertilizers, pesticides, and other synthetic additives. In animal products, organic refers to the avoidance of hormones and antibiotics.
We now know that these highly processed foods create inflammation, disease and even cancers.
Try buying organic versions of foods on the Dirty Dozen list, published each year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The list shows USDA findings of conventionally grown foods most likely to contain pesticide residues. This year's list includes apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, snap peas, spinach, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers.
INDIVIDUALITY - Whilst it is important to consider Variety, Wholefoods and Unprocessed factors into our diets, it is important to remember that an individual’s needs are dependent on a number of aspects such as; genetics, social/cultural, environmental, psychological, and lifestyle factors such as levels of activity.
Nutritional requirements for each person are significantly diverse for each person and can depend on digestion issues and any sensitives and allergies, medications taken, quality, cost and availability of foods, age, general health and lifestyle can all impact what the ‘ideal diet’ looks like.
The gut- brain connection is more commonly discussed these days with the rise of Mental health issues throughout society, and for good reason. We are gaining more understanding and seeing the effects of gut health and diet and how this can positively or negatively affect your mood.
Did you know that bacteria, collectively known as Microbiome outnumber our own human cells 10 to one, and majority call home in our guts! Crazy to think that we are less human than bacteria, this is why it’s so incredibly, important that we are mindful of what we eat! We are feeding these little monsters!
If you’re stressed out and anxious, the brain will wield a powerful influence on gut bacteria; as many studies have shown, even mild stress can alter the microbial balance in the gut, making you more vulnerable to infectious disease and triggering a torrent of reactions on a cellular level, directly affecting the central nervous system.
Creating and maintaining a balance of good bacteria in our guts along with a holistic approach to our health is the best way forward.
Nutrition alone can't create the balance to our lives, it truly takes a holistic approach. Weaving Mindful awareness into our lives through our thoughts, behaviours and our environment can have significant benefits. Mindfulness can apply to what we eat, when and why. Often it is beyond the pasta bowl and much deeper intrinsically that we need to traverse.
When we create balance in all areas of our life, Mind, Body & Soul, eating a variety of whole plant-based foods, getting enough physical activity, and managing our stress, we are nurturing our entire beings—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—and nourishing our deepest selves. We need a holistic approach to health as they are closely interconnected.
If you're keen to learn more, I offer interactive and educational workshops throughout the year and run Mindfulness Hikes that allow connect you with Nature to find balance within, in our busy modern world.