Most people have no idea how good they can feel. They think that symptoms such as bloating, gas, poor bowel movements (diarrhoea/constipation), low energy, chronic pain are all a normal part of life. Few people make a connection between what they eat and how they feel as having a direct influence. Good nutrition is key to good health.
What we eat literally becomes part of us through a series of complex biochemical reactions. The human body is made of over 35 trillion cells, not including the trillions of bacteria as well. Every single one of those cells works together to maintain balance and good health. When we don’t eat nutritionally dense foods, those cells become starved of essential nutrients and struggle to perform basic processes. A simple way of explaining it is that substance A needs to be substance B and to get there it requires the nutrient zinc (for example). However if a diet is low in zinc then we may have a buildup of substance A but are lacking enough substance B, resulting in another problem down the line such as building up of toxins or insufficient hormones.
Unfortunately today with processed food so ingrained in our diet we often lack the essential nutrients our bodies require. As I said, most people have no idea how good they can feel. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When we feed our body the things it requires and eliminate those that put a load on it, we can feel the benefits remarkably quickly. By making simple changes to your diet you may notice:
- Increased energy
- Increased sleep quality
- Better mood
- Weight loss
- Improved response to stress
- Improved elimination of toxins
- Better bowel movements
- Mental alertness
- Clearer skin
- Reduced pain
Set yourself a 2 week nutrition and lifestyle challenge by implementing the changes below and check in with yourself to see how you feel.
Think of it as a process of discovery and not deprivation.
- DO consume filtered water, kefir, herbal teas
- DON’T consume caffeinated drinks, alcohol or processed drinks (this includes flavoured water)
- DO consume a range of organic (grass fed and finished where applicable) meats including chicken, beef, pork, duck, etc. Enjoy sustainable small fish (these are low in mercury) and sustainable seafood. Eggs and tempeh are great to include for vegetarian options too.
- DON’t consume processed meats or sausages with additives
- DO consume a rainbow of vegetables – the more variety the better. Get adventurous and choose something you haven’t had before. Frozen vegetables can also be a great addition on top of the fresh ones (just check the label to ensure no added sugar or preservatives). Fermented vegetables are also great to include for their probiotic and prebiotic qualities.
- DON’t consume processed vegetables – we want to consume them in their most natural state.
- DO consume fresh fruit in a range of colours – the more colours the more antioxidants!
- DON’T consume dried fruits (they are high in sugar)
- DO consume nuts and seeds (preferably activated and free of additives). Again variety is key. Cook with healthy fats such as coconut oil, ghee, extra virgin olive oil, tallow and butter.
- DON’T consume refined seed or vegetable oils. Avoid roasted or salted processed nuts.
You may like to cut out dairy and gluten for 2 weeks, just to see how you feel and if any symptoms subside. You can then reintroduce these foods and gain a better understanding if it works for you or not. Grains and legumes can be great to incorporate at this time including oats, brown rice, chickpeas, beans, lentils, buckwheat, etc.
These suggestions are just temporary and are designed to help you identify what feels good for you and what doesn’t. During this stage eliminating sugar is also key to getting the most benefit. There may be a period of headaches or discomfort coming off caffeinated drinks. Cravings may also occur when cutting out sugar. A great way to combat this is to ensure you are consuming enough healthy fats and good quality protein throughout the day.
It is also a great idea if you incorporate some regular movement during this stage. This may include walking, yoga, cycling, weights or whatever feels right for you. When we make changes that serves our body and it’s nutritional requirements it is amazing to realise how good we can feel.
I explore nutrition and it’s role in our health in greater detail in my book A Life Less Stressed, click here to order your copy.