The importance of nutrition
Our biology is supremely complex, evolved over eons to be in balance with whole foods. To the detriment of many millions (if not billions) of human beings, this balance has been interrupted by our more recent so-called socioeconomic advances. So, what’s the answer? It’s certainly not in substituting a healthy diet with expensive supplements, it’s not a radical change to some previously undiscovered magical diet and it isn’t about exercising away all those calories.
It’s about balance, education and recognition of the positive role food can play in our lives.
The definition of health
The World Health Organization definition of health recognizes the inter-relatedness of physical, psychological, emotional, social, spiritual, and environmental factors that contribute to the overall quality of a person’s life. All parts of the mind, body, and environment are interdependent. The old English root of our word health (hal, meaning sound or whole) implies that there is more to health than freedom from sickness.
When we are well and healthy, our biological systems function harmoniously. If one aspect of our biology not functioning properly the system, as a whole, may not be able to function correctly either, and you may become ill. Thus, disease may be regarded as the disruption of physical and mental harmony.
Nutrition: central to wellbeing
Of the many things you can do to enhance your wellbeing none is more important than maintaining proper nutrition. Nutrition represents the combined activities of countless food substances. The whole is greater than the sum of its part. (T. Colin Campbell, Phd author of the China Study). Many people realize this but exposure to confusing and often contradictory information about nutrition makes it difficult for some to formulate healthy nutritional strategies.
Compare the traditional American diet (based on meat, refined-flour products, processed and mass manufactured foods, packaged fatty or sugary snacks and sweets) to the diets of traditional Asian and Mediterranean societies (based on unprocessed grains, rice, whole-wheat flour, beans, fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy omega-3 fatty acids). The latter diet is associated with less heart disease and several kinds of cancer, lower rates of obesity and diabetes. This type of diet helps us maintain a healthy body weight, lessen inflammation and insulin resistance and improve blood vessel functioning.
Achieving optimal health
I think that everybody can achieve optimal health. But what is optimal health? Most people think of health as the absence of disease. It is true that not feeling sick is one important aspect of health. Just as important, however, is having a sense of optimal well-being- a state of physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual wellness. In this view health can be obtain by living in harmony with yourself and with your social and physical environments.
Once we make this psychological change the rest flows almost effortlessly. Ok, it requires some effort in learning, planning and food prep but the benefits are a thousand times more.
Taking the first steps
This is where I help people. Food is one of the most important aspects of life and we need rethink our approach. Many people look at the need to eat well as an expense, an annoyance and something that distracts us from our busy lifestyles. For me food is a central part of family life. The kitchen is the hub of our household, meals eaten together connect us as a family and, also with our friends. Cooking is mediation for me, the mere act of creation is a stress reliever. On top of all that it’s delicious, connects us to new flavors, cultures and adds a dimension to life that I could not do without.
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