When you are confronted by a health challenge, whether you are suffering from unexplained symptoms, a chronic illness, or the inability to lose or gain weight, your body is trying to tell you something. It needs more of some things, and less of others.
Think of a health obstacle as an opportunity to put the puzzle pieces of your healthy lifestyle together. It’s a wake up call-to-action. You can either answer it, or roll over and go back to sleep. Very often, we know what kind of changes we need to make, but we lead too busy and stressful a life to start making them.
Sometimes, though, we get so overwhelmed by the sea of confusing and conflicting health and nutrition information, that it stops us in our tracks. Too much information can be as paralyzing as too little, if we don’t know how to sort it all out.
As a CPA turned health coach, I went from auditing balance sheets to scrutinizing food labels and researching and implementing a variety of cutting edge nutritional theories. To empower my daughter to heal from a serious digestive illness, and put the pieces of her unique health puzzle together, I had to connect a lot of dots. It started with rethinking her food, but it certainly didn’t end there, as nourishment comes in many forms.
That’s another story for another day, but looking back now, I now see that the single most important question you can ask yourself in a situation like that is:
What is your body hungry for?
Chances are, it’s more nutrients, and fewer environmental and/or emotional toxins. Since stress is in its own category as a toxin, let’s focus on the environmental toxins for today: food and water. Like the roots of a tree, your digestive system needs pure, clean nutrients and water in order to function properly. Otherwise, you will barely survive, let along thrive.
Nutrient dense food keeps our immune systems strong, over 70% if which happens to be within our guts! Vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants help our bodies fight off the foreign invaders, by feeding the “good” bacteria in our digestive tracts. Did you know that a healthy digestive system contains trillions of “good” bacteria that work like an army to fight off the “bad” bacteria?
High quality, real food feeds the good guys. Processed foods feed that bad ones, since they contain chemicals, sugars, pesticides and other toxins.
There’s an even more compelling reason to maximize nutrients. They keep your detoxification system strong so that your body can give the boot to many of the chemicals you are exposed to on a daily basis. By maximizing nutrients, you’re minimizing the risk of toxins being stored in your fat tissue, organs, and bones.
Did you know that…
“We live in a sea of toxins. Every single person and animal on the planet contains residues of toxic chemicals or metals in their tissues. 80,000 new chemicals have been introduced since the turn of the 20th century and most have never been tested for safety or synergistic reactions.”
-Dr. Mark Hyman, as per 13th Annual International Symposium of The Institute of Functional Medicine
“The relatively recent presence of synthetic chemicals in the environment may be a significant causative factor in in the current worldwide obesity epidemic. These chemicals may be causing weight gain via toxic effects on the body’s natural weight control mechanisms. The very speed of the marked increases in the numbers of overweight people indicates that changes in the environment are more likely to be the source of the obesity epidemic than genetic changes in human beings.”
-Paula F. Baillie-Hamilton, M.B., B.S., D. Phil., as excerpted from a paper written in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Volume 8, Number 2, 2002, pp. 185 – 192.
Every body is accumulating low levels of toxins through the years, starting before we are even born. They have the potential to eventually make us overweight, underweight, sick, or even depressed. As per Donna Jackson Nakazawa in her book, The Autoimmune Epidemic. it’s like we each have a barrel that chemicals are slowly dripping into. We may go many years before it overflows, we may not. But when it does, our detoxification system can no longer filter it all out and we no longer look or feel our best.
So, if we eat processed foods, and surround ourselves with chemicals in the products we buy, we are only accelerating the spilling over of toxins. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that we can minimize our exposure, by living as clean and green a lifestyle as possible. By reading product labels. and using our wallets to support those who do not harm our people or our planet by relying on synthetics, we can make the informed choices that will make that possible.
If we swap one product out at a time, we can make slow and steady progress in keeping our barrels from overflowing. Some of those swaps can be life-changing. In the next two blog posts, I’m going to share two products/companies that have been for me.
So, let’s recap:
1. If you’re struggling with a health challenge, ask yourself, what is my body hungry for?
2. Real, farm-to-table food feeds your army of “good bacteria” to fight off the bad kind.
3. Army of Beneficial Bacteria = Healthy Digestive System = Strong Immune System = Better Detoxification
4. Better Detoxification = Lower Toxic Load = Healthier Body = Less Sickness = Better Metabolism = Less Weight Gain
5. Maximize nutrients + Minimize toxins = Healthier, Happier You.
It’s important to note that short term “cleanses” may be trendy these days, but if you’ve been accumulating toxins for years, it will take longer than a mere few days or weeks to really get a large number of chemicals out of your body. Plus, short term, one-size-fits-all approaches are not likely to lead to a reversal of old, self-sabotaging habits.
When it comes to detox diets, slow and steady wins the race! Your body is hungry for more than a one-size-fits-all solution. If you really want to create lasting change, keep these words in mind:
While a special detox diet may light a spark, it’s the gradual lifestyle changes that will light your way in the dark.
So, whoever you are. Wherever you are. Your body is hungry for real, lasting change. Small steps can make a big difference along your path toward a healthier, happier life!
Please note that this post has been simplified in that food is not the only form of nourishment that you need for health, and as previously noted, chemicals are not the only toxin. We will further this discussion in future blog posts… Update: Find part 2 here!
In the meantime, for further reading about digestive health, looky here!
- Digestive Health 101: The Army Within
- Digestive Health 102: The Healthy Soil/Gut Bacteria Connection
Have a happy, gut healthy day!