C. Smith Therapist
and Wellbeing Consultant
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Articles Related to Health & Well-Being
Nutrition and Exercise for Healthy Mind & Body
Before embarking on any changes to your diet or exercise regime, such as those mentioned here, always consult your doctor or medical advisor first.
If food is not digested properly, the nutrients cannot reach the bloodstream through the 'pores' in the intestines and are wasted. Proper digestion, therefore, is not just a matter of preventing discomfort... it is essential for our health and well-being.
Enzymes are protein molecules that digest our food., destroy toxins, metabolise starch and proteins and break down fats and cellulose. There are over 2,000 of them in our body. Cooking, freezing and processing easily destroy enzymes... so are only available from fresh raw foods.
It is known that 'Free Radicals' are harmful substances that can cause cell damage and diseases such as cancer. Antioxidants, found naturally in many fruit and vegetables etc. can provide protection against free radicals. Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral Selenium are examples of antioxidants.
Muscle is 3 times as heavy as fat and it metabolises food better - so it's not just your weight that matters but also how you look and feel. You may find that weight does reduce naturally if you are overweight to start with, but concentrate more on how you look and feel.
Remember that when people cut down their calorie intake (by dieting too much) the body responds by slowing down metabolism - by as much as 20% - resulting in more of your food intake being stored as fat! This is your body's natural defence mechanism against starvation. You don't have to starve yourself to eat healthily. We have known for years that (in general) dieting doesn't work!
Decide how hungry you are on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being 'stuffed' and 10 being 'starving'). Only eat if you are at least a five or six on that scale. Many people don't even know when they are hungry - we have so much food available that we have lost this ability.
Our systems, over the years, have lost the sensitivity to differentiate between hunger and thirst - so when you feel hungry in between meals drink half a glass of water (or cranberry water) first and wait five minutes - you may find you weren't actually hungry at all. If you are hungry, see 'Snacks' below.
Eat slowly and savour each mouthful. Notice the texture and flavour. Put your fork down between each mouthful - you will soon get used to it. This develops a spirit of 'Mindfulness' that you can apply to any activity. Notice when you are full and stop eating. Also wait five minutes before deciding if you need another serving or course... your body needs this time for the 'hunger' regulating mechanism to kick in.
Separate eating from other activities. Stop what you are doing when you are ready to eat. Really focus on the food and the enjoyment of eating. People often eat while working or doing other activities so don't get the enjoyment from the food - that's why they feel they need more when the body really doesn't.
Take regular exercise (see below). Even light exercise regularly will make a difference. Exercise increases metabolism and toned muscles produce enzymes that aid fat burning.
Eat a balanced diet with white lean meats, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits. Trim excess fat from meats. Cut down on or eliminate refined sugars - even 'diet' drinks have sweeteners that the body stores as fat. Natural carbohydrates are stored as glycogen that is more readily available as energy.
Avoid pollutants as much as possible - any toxic material entering the body causes oxidative stress. We need antioxidants to combat such stresses, and the body has to expend large amounts of energy converting toxic material into molecules it is able to break down and expel.
Imagine how you would like to be - the 'blueprint' of your ideal self. Carry this with you mentally and refer to it often - ask its advice from time to time !
Go easy on yourself! Your body will adapt to the new healthier lifestyle and it will become more and more natural as time goes on. It is important that you enjoy the process over time so that it becomes a way of life. Instead of generally poor digestion and nutrition with occasional good bits, you will have generally excellent digestion and nutrition with perhaps occasional 'lapses'. An occasional lapse or 'treat' that helps you keep to the underlying principles, provided it is not a 'relapse', is better than gritting your teeth and hating the whole thing. You will, in time, come to enjoy your newfound sense of taste and energy and won't want to go back to the old ways.
Sleep well and stay calm to reduce oxidative stresses caused by adrenaline secretion (see 'Mindfulness' below).
It will probably take up to 8 weeks to fully change to your new lifestyle habits, so be gentle on yourself. It is better to slowly add good habits each week than to concentrate on cutting out bad ones. This will help you focus on what is good for you and to feel better about yourself, and help you maintain motivation. Eventually the good habits will naturally replace the old bad ones anyway.
Give yourself credit where it's due... you're doing great and well on the way to a healthier happier lifestyle !
Do not drink fluids with your meals, as this dilutes the enzyme activity of saliva and disturbs proper digestion.
Drink a glass of water, or water with unsweetened cranberry juice (diluted 8:1), about half an hour before each meal. This will aid digestion and help your body to get the most nutrients from each meal. Our bodies are over 80% water and dehydration is the source of many diseases.
First thing in the morning, drink a large glass (half a pint) of warm water, preferably with the juice of half a lemon. This will flush the body's filtering systems and help detoxify the liver.
Drink a total of at least 8 glasses of water a day, or water with unsweetened cranberry juice (diluted 8:1) (but not with food). Other drinks containing water do count - but you don't want sugars or toxins or artificial colourings/flavourings added.
Try out vegetable juice - surprisingly tasty and refreshing, and very healthy.
Minimise or cut out caffeine (coffee, black tea etc).
Green tea has very beneficial antioxidant properties... try this for a change. Find a flavour that you like.
In general, eat plenty of fresh vegetables (as much as you like - raw or steamed if possible) and fruit.
Always eat fruit by itself - it passes through the digestive system very quickly. Fruit acids prevent proper digestion of carbohydrates, and if eaten at the same time can produce fermentation. Leave at least ½ hr before and after fruit. Fruit is especially good in the morning - eat as much as you like for a great breakfast.
At least 50% of vegetable intake should be raw - cooking, even lightly, kills essential enzymes.
Bananas are a good source of energy but have a high Glycemic Index (sugar content) so should be eaten sparingly.
Eat fish and lean white meats. Avoid red meats, which are very slow to digest.
Avoid any highly processed foods, table salt, sugars and white flour. Eat wholegrain bread instead of white.
For respiratory diseases, avoid gas-forming foods such as beans and cabbage, which distend (bloat) the abdomen and make breathing more difficult. Avoid foods that form mucous in the gastrointestinal tract such as red meats, dairy products, processed foods, tobacco, junk foods, white flour and chocolate.
Taking a decent multivitamin daily may be a good idea for the first month or so. Once transformed to a new healthy lifestyle, supplements should not be necessary.
When on antibiotics, drink one pro-biotic yoghurt every day.
If you are hungry in between meals (and have already had a drink as mentioned earlier) you could have any snack that is a natural food.
It is important to have natural regulation of blood sugar levels. Cutting out sugar can lead to cravings for the first few weeks. Sunflower seeds can eliminate these cravings naturally without upsetting blood sugar levels. They are also a source of Selenium, a useful antioxidant. A few taken when cravings are evident, up to a handful or two per day, will help regulate sugar cravings.
Various healthy snacks are available from Health Food shops.
Take time regularly to notice your breathing and pay attention to your breath. Practise 'abdominal' breathing (using your diaphragm), which releases the body's natural calming system (parasympathetic autonomic nervous system). Make the out breath slightly longer than the in breath. Do this at least 5 minutes every day to start with, increase to twice a day as the weeks progress.
Develop the breathing exercises by concentrating on exhaling more thoroughly each time.
When eating, as mentioned, pay attention to each mouthful and eat slowly. This will aid digestion as saliva enzymes have more time to work, and give you time to appreciate the colour, texture and flavour of the foods.
Find something of joy in every activity.
Practise 'skilled relaxation' or meditation. This usually starts with mindful abdominal breathing and can include visualisation of a safe, natural, calming, healing place. I have produced a Relaxation Tape that will help with this - visit my website www.davidcsmith.com and email me if you would like a copy.
A good night's sleep is important. During sleep the body produces a surplus of antioxidant enzymes to deal with oxidative stresses while awake. It is also a time when any emotional stresses are resolved or normalised. Following the other guidance in this document will naturally lead to healthy sleeping patterns.
Listen to stimulating or uplifting music regularly.
Make time for nature, music and art. Think of some way you could help other people and decide when to do it.
Think of people who have hurt or angered you in your life and attempt to understand their motives. Try to forgive at least one of them.
Rebounding is one of the most efficient forms of exercise known and most importantly it stimulates movement of the lymphatic fluid, which improves your body's immune system and increases natural defences. This, in conjunction with proper nutrition and relaxation/visualisation exercises and meditation are the primary keys to wellness. Rebounding also produces minimal skeletal shock so prevents damage to bones and joints compared to walking and jogging, for example. (Email me for my separate article on rebounding).
Whatever light exercise you do, do it regularly; walk when you can and take stairs instead of lifts occasionally. If you do have a rebounder, start with therapeutic bounce with feet staying in contact with the mat and exercise throughout the day for about 1 or 2 mins at a time leaving at least ½ hr between sessions. Aim for a total of at least 10 mins per day for the first week or two.
As strength returns, gradually increase duration of sessions to a total of 15-30mins throughout the day.
At any sign of pain or difficulty, reduce the length of rebounding sessions. Since rebounding is so efficient it is possible to overdo it before you realise (unlike walking and jogging when you generally know you're struggling well in advance of overdoing it!).
Do not cut out rebounding altogether if you have overdone it - simply reduce the intensity and continue regularly, even if you have to sit on the rebounder with someone else doing the jumping behind you.
As strength and stamina continue to improve over the weeks walking, jogging and slightly higher bounces can be incorporated after warm-ups, leading on to aerobic workouts if desired. Generally always do at least 1 minute of therapeutic bounce to start a session followed by increased activity as appropriate then 1 minute of therapeutic bounce to cool down.
These are to follow... for now, there is plenty to be getting on with in the above notes. Remember, concentrate on your health and well-being and focus on how you want to feel rather than what you are giving up. Adding new good habits gradually is a powerful tool for replacing old bad ones. You want to feel good while you are moving to a healthy lifestyle and bringing your system back to well-being.
Please contact me at info at davidcsmith.com
if you would like to discuss anything in this article. With
acknowledgements to Pete Cohen & Judith Verity for elements
drawn from their books on their 'Lighten Up' approach to weight
Copyright © 2004-2012 David C.Smith. All rights reserved.