Body and Mind

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While meditation practice, or yoga can help you establish better health physically and mentally, it is still very important to live a balanced life.

There is a body of study that as highlighted a link, a physiological link, between the body and the mind. This link is more than the brain being contained within the body. There is a nerve that creates a direct link between the brain and the gut. This link is crucial in understanding how the mind and the body influence each other.

When we have negative thoughts, stresses or anxiety in our minds in can lead to digestive issues, ulcers, constipation, bloating, poor nutrient absorption and alike. Similarly, when we have low immunity, poor nutrient absorption, poor gut flora, constipation, irritable bowel or gut inflammation it can lead to headaches, low mood or depression, tiredness, confusion, dizziness and so on.

So when we look at a health issue, no matter how minor or major it is, it is wise to look at our internal environment as well as our external environment before we decide on any treatment method.

I am all for modern, western medicine. There are some wonderful treatments out there to support recovery from many illnesses. But they can be bolstered by including natural remedies that support the constitution of the body, mind and soul.

The body is the minds anchor. To maintain a healthy mind, we must maintain a healthy mind-body connection that allows us to remain in balance in times of illness.

eating a variety of nutritious foods and herbs is one way to maintain a healthy body and support a healthy mind.

You don’t have to become vegetarian, vegan or embark on a raw, minimalist diet to be healthy. Incorporating a few simple foods into your diet on a regular basis can be enough to support a wellness plan.

For example, Honey has been recommended by the World health Organisation as a natural remedy for some gastric infections because it has natural antibacterial properties. Having a pot of Manuka honey in the pantry is a great it. One pot, costing between AUS$8 and $15 will last you a few months. All you need is a teaspoon in the morning before breakfast and one in the evening.

Steaming foods, such as chicken, fish and vegies, is a great way to preserve all the nutrients so they end up in your belly and not cooked out. You can then cool the water used for steaming vegies and use it as the base for a stock later in the week.

Even the humble Aussie Banana has a part to play in maintaining good health. If yo have trouble getting to sleep at night, try a banana about an hour before bed instead of reaching for those pills. Bananas have an amino acid called tryptophan which is a natural sedative. It can also help with anxiety and low mood, and gives a kick start to the digestive system is you have it with breakfast.

You could try sliced banana with some porridge or on toast with a drizzle of honey to start your day. You will be packing your body with vital nutrients to start the day well, boost your brain activity and support a healthy immune system. This breakfast 3 times a week would surly help keep the body in balance.

Another humble health booster is spinach. This little leafy green is packed with Vitamins A and C, K and magnesium. If you feel tired all the time, add spinach to your salads, stir-fries and vegie juices. Spinach builds healthy red blood cells and cleanses the digestive system, it also helps relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and helps replenish the body after a bout of diarrhea.

One of my favourite juices is baby spinach leaves in a blender with beetroot slices and some lime juice. Whiz it up and pour over ice. Very refreshing and good for your body.

Another of my favourite juices is berry, lime juice. Some mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries) mixed with a good squeeze of lime juice, some water and ice cubes. It’s a little bitter, so if you want a sweeter juice, mix in some watermelon pieces. You could also throw in a mint leaf for two for extra freshness on a hot summers day.

If you want to work on weight loss, get a bag of fresh mushrooms. A serve of mushies 3 times a week provides 20% of the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin B (important for energy, absorption of nutrients, and mood balancing), selenium and cooper. Mushrooms also help to dampen appetite for subsequent meals, so if you have some mushrooms in a salad at lunch time, you won’t over eat at dinner.

Mushrooms can be eaten raw in salads, rolls, wraps or alone. They can be cook and thrown in with pasta, rice and meat dishes. If you chop them up really fine, you can even use them to cook meat loaf, spaghetti sauce or hide them in mash potato.

There is nothing out there that says everyone will benefit from any particular method of healthy living. Some people benefit from high impact cardio workouts, others benefit from water aerobics, walking or yoga.

There was a study in the UK that looked at the benefits of cardio exercise. They have preliminary results that show some people will not respond to cardio exercise. There will be no change in lung capacity. There are other studies that show simply being on your feet more than you sit down can help to keep you fit and healthy. Taking the stairs, walking around the room when on the phone (or simply standing up when taking or making a call) can improve muscle tone, cardiac health, core strength and bone density.

You don’t have to push yourself like on The Biggest Looser, or go to boot camp, early morning personal training sessions or restrictive diets and cleansing diets.

All that is required is a small shift here and there, that soon becomes a healthy habit, and you will be well on your way to better balance and good health.

If you do have serious health issues such as diabetes, cardiac or respiratory issues, knee or back injuries etc, it is always a great idea to approach your general practitioner to discuss some of the ways you can gradually and successfully work towards a better lifestyle without drugs or fads.

If they are not overly helpful seek the advice of a registered naturopath or dietitian, holistic counsellor or food coach.

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