by Diana Arundell university qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist
Solid foundations lead to stronger more resilient structures and the same can be observed with our health and the human body. If you are not feeling well or your body is not performing to expectation then it’s worth looking into the foundations of your health. If these 5 foundations are considered and addressed then better health and wellbeing should naturally follow.
1 Nutrition Fuelling your body correctly is the most important thing you can do to help improve health and energy levels. Are you expecting your body to do physical and mental tasks without giving it adequate fuel to run on? Are you expecting it to have regular bowel motions when you are restricting what you’re eating?
Keep it simple and try eating just 3 main meals per day. Snack between or after dinner only if you’re actually hungry (rather than bored, tired or sad) otherwise try herbal tea. If you’re constantly hungry in between meals then the quality/quantity of those 3 main meals needs to be reviewed. Are you over-eating but under-nutrient receiving? If each meal contains all types of fuel for your energetic fire – (kindling, medium sized sticks and bigger logs) your energy will be supported. Complex carbohydrates* (kindling to provide quicker energy for your energetic fire), protein* (big log that keeps fuelling the fire longer) and fats* (medium sized sticks that support kindling and logs) should be included in your meals.
Tip Aim for 5 handfuls of vegetables or salad each day. 80% of your lunch and dinner plate should be salad/vegetables. 2 pieces of seasonal fruit daily is perfectly healthy.
2 Water Fatigue, cramps, foggy head, blocked sinuses, dry and itchy skin, urinary tract infections, difficulty sleeping can all be signs of insufficient water intake. Herbal tea does count towards hydration intake and due to the diuretic effect of caffeine, coffee and tea do not.
If plain water is not appealing try using 100% juice instead of cordial to flavour the water. Carbonating the water via a soda stream (minus all the sugary flavours) is another way to make water more exciting.
Avoid drinking water out of plastic containers and opt for glass or stainless steel.
Tip Aim to drink 800ml before midday and another 800ml before 4pm. (Individual requirements may vary due to size, weight, activity and season – this is just a general guide)
3 Exercise Moving your body can improve physical and mental energy, assist in weight loss, improve circulation, increase strength, improve sleep and create happier feelings. The most important thing is to find something you like doing. Start gradually and build up if you want it to be a long term consistent practice and avoid the ‘all or nothing’ pattern. Aim for 3 hours per week of increased heart rate exercise. Can be 30 mins daily or 3 x 1 hour sessions or any combination. Consider including hills or stairs to really improve strength and fitness.
Tip Find a great podcast and keep it for listening to when you go out walking.
4 Destress/Joy Balance is a law of physics and a universal law. If you are feeling stressed or more unhappy than happy then ask yourself ‘where is my life out of balance?’ If there’s not enough down time or not enough fun or engaging in things that make you truly happy, it’s only a matter of time before feelings of burn out or depression set in.
We didn’t come here to be serious and stressed all the time, we came to enjoy this full spectrum of life experience. Take time to stop and literally smell the roses, observe the wind beneath a bird’s wings as it flies by you, look up and notice the vast beauty of the sky and take a moment to notice what is beneath your feet. In other words slow down for even one minute, take some deep conscious breaths and unless we are on our way to hospital in an emergency, we all have time to do this.
Tip To bring your awareness to the present moment – stop – close your eyes and observe all your senses – What can you hear near and far? What can you smell near and far? What can you taste near and far? What can you feel against your body near and far?
Then open your eyes and observe what you can see near and far.
5 Sleep Individual requirements may differ due to age/shift work etc however generally 8 hours sleep is required by most people for optimal function. Avoid fluids after dinner if you want to avoid waking up to urinate. If sleep issues are present, limit coffee to 1 cup per day before midday even if you think it doesn’t affect you. Aim to go to sleep by 10pm and if that leads to earlier rising, use that morning time for exercise or meditation (exercise for the mind).
Tip If you’re having trouble sleeping practise breathing in the word ‘deep’ and breathing out the word ‘sleep’. As if nothing else exists, just those two words.
Diana Arundell is a university-qualified naturopath and consults from her Avoca Naturopath clinic. She has a special interest in fertility and pregnancy health, digestive health, immune function and family wellness programs. She was a nutrition lecturer at Macquarie University for 10 years, and is an accredited Journey Practitioner. For further information please contact Diana Arundell at Avoca Naturopath on 0410 465 900.