Eating healthily can sometimes be really confusing. Especially with the amount of conflicting information floating around. But it is worthwhile embarking on a healthy journey despite all of this. It’s the jewel in the crown of finding and maintaining good health. Exercise, fresh air, sunlight, good quality water, diet, faith, self-control and good rest (also known as the eight laws of health) are the key areas that one should really focus on for all round health, beauty and wellbeing.
Why Eat Well?
Did you know that our hair is the last to receive nutrients? That’s right! That’s because it’s not essential for one’s survival. If your body had to choose between your hair and your vital organs and cells to send nutrients to, then its organs hands down. That’s why those with life threatening illnesses loose their hair first. If your body isn’t receiving enough nutrients then your body will prioritise what area of your body needs it the most and your hair will lack greatly. So it’s essential to feed ourselves with all the nourishment we need to not only maintain good health but to have great hair, skin and nails.
Healthy Eating – The Basics
There are many websites out there that focus on the diet aspect of health and really go into great detail, so i’m not going to go crazy here. I’ll give a quick overview of what consists of a good diet and the rest, i will say, is up to you.
- Ditch Processed Foods
Foods that have gone through a lot of refinement and processing are not as good for you as fresh, whole foods. White rice, White bread, white pasta along with other white flour products and refined sugar, are all examples of foods that have been depleted of all of their goodness and are provide what is called ‘empty calories’. These foods are stripped of all the goodness that God endowed them with. What is left reaps no health benefits to the consumer but leaves behind trails of issues such as constipation, depleted nutrition, Obesity and overweight issues, diabetes and more! A lot of canned/frozen foods and ready meals contain high amounts of salt, sugar, preservatives and other hard to pronounce chemicals that contribute to sickness and disease.
For optimum health, it’s better to opt for whole foods. So choose wholegrains like brown rice and whole wheat flour products, oats, whole fresh fruit and vegetables. They not only provide more fibre, but also more vitamins, minerals, enzymes (if raw) and other co-factors required for their digestion and absorption.
- Eat Raw
Our diet’s should consist of at least 80% raw, fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s not rabbit food, it’s human food! When food is cooked or heated above a certain temperature a lot of nutrients are lost, not to mention the enzymes needed for it’s digestion are completely destroyed. Not all foods need to be cooked and if possible, make it a habit to prepare/eat foods in their raw, natural state.
Contrary to popular belief, fat is not bad for you! Your body needs fat. I would not recommend a ‘low fat’ diet to anyone unless detoxing. If we eat the right types of foods in the right amounts, then our bodies will balance themselves out. Eat good fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their cold pressed oils. Try not to heat oils. Most oils heated above a certain temperature become damaged and turn into what is known as trans-fats (turned bad by the exposure to high heat and oxygen, also known as oxidisation) which release free radicals into the body and can be very damaging to our health, possibly causing cancer. In saying that, if you must use an oil to cook with, then naturally saturated vegetable fats (not hydrogenated) like coconut and palm oils are the best (please get your palm oil from sustainable sources) as they are the most stable and do not quickly turn into damaging trans-fats. Use oils sparingly, as it’s isolated and so is not considered a whole food. Remember eating foods in their whole state is best.
Our hair and nails are made up of proteins called Keratin and so it’s important to give our bodies enough protein to maintain their health. However, their is much debate as to how much protein one actually needs and which forms are best. In todays society we consume way too much protein and reap a whole host of disease as a result. Protein in vegetables are often said to be rather inferior to animal based proteins as most do not contain all the amino acids that make up a complete protein. Combining vegetables, legumes and grains in meals has been recommended to form complete proteins but this is rather unnecessary. As long you eat a varied diet your body will take what it needs to make up proteins and use them where needed. There are so many issues connected with eating meat that i’m not going to talk about it here. You can google it in your own time. I Will suggest that most, if not all of your protein needs be met by plant sources. Nuts, seeds, legumes and vegetables /leafy greens are all good sources of protein, or amino acids that make up protein. Eating a varied diet consisting of all these will ensure you get enough good quality protein in your diet.
Again, try and stay away from refined sugars as much as possible including artificial sweeteners. Whole food sweeteners like dates, stevia (green) and raw honey make great substitutes for refined white sugar. They contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes and fibre (honey doesn’t contain fibre) that will do your body much good.
Hydrate yourself from the inside out! Drink at least 1.5 litres of good quality water a day. Your body is made up of about 60% water, so it’s extremely essential to maintain good health. Your skin will look plump and bright and your hair will look great, not to mention all the other benefits that water provides. If you eat a high raw diet you will find your need for fresh water slightly reduced as raw fruit and veg naturally contain high amounts of water.
- Supplements & Superfoods
In todays society it is already well documented that fresh foods no longer contain the same amount of nutrients they did even 50 years ago. So it’s important to ‘top up’ our daily nutritional needs with good quality wholefood supplements and superfoods that contain high amounts of the nutrients our bodies need. There are plenty of good brands out there. Just research and find what’s best for you. Superfoods include, wheatgrass and barleygrass juice/powder, maca, bee pollen, spirulina, chlorella and other algae’s. There are others out there but i’m just briefly listing some. Common everyday foods like broccoli, blueberries and almonds are also considered superfoods as they are high in essential vitamins and minerals.
- Don’t Snack
I know it’s hard. But it makes digesting food a lot harder if we snack in-between meals. Our digestive system needs up to 5 hours (depending on what’s been eaten) to digest it’s food and snacking, even a little bit, can halt digestion and keep food in the stomach for far too long resulting in fermentation and poor absorption. If you go to great lengths to eat well then you will want your body to absorb all the goodness it can.
- Don’t overeat
Just google the dangers of overeating and you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of information that’s presented. If you eat too much, then your body has to expend precious energy to digest all the excess. It overburdens the digestive system and can lead to many health problems. Instead, eat only as much as you need to feel satisfied. Your body can use the energy saved on digestion on other much needed areas instead.
As i said, these are just the basics. But don’t take my word for it! Do your own research and start incorporating some if not all of these principles into your everyday eating and you’ll find your health, energy, hair, skin and nails will flourish!