The human body is a pretty marvelous machine – unfortunately, over the many hundreds of thousands of years it has been stalking the earth it hasn’t really evolved much at all. However, the sad (or not, depending on how you look at it) fact is that lifestyles have altered irrevocably and hand in hand with that has been a decline in what people eat and their understanding of nutrients and how they affect the body.
For thousands of years, if people became ill, they had no medicine as such to rely on. If they were to get better, they had to do so by using the food that they ate, or perhaps making up medicines and potions from the herbs they had in their gardens or that they could buy in from apothecaries. Whilst modern medicine is a marvel and we’re lucky to have such great technology at our disposal now, we can still look to nutrition to help us overcome health challenges. Indeed, many doctors and healthcare practitioners are now taking a more holistic approach to illness. For instance, in patients with long-term alcohol problems who are faced with the challenge of giving up drinking, as much emphasis is now put on diet and nutrition as it is on the withdrawal and recovery itself. This is a great thing and these notions can be applied just as well to those of us who are generally suffering from the effects of stress and a busy lifestyle and who perhaps feel run down and lethargic, too.
Food affects our mood; if we’re deficient in vitamins we can begin to feel anxious, tired and depressed. The same can be said if we have a lack of Omega 3s (otherwise known as Essential Fatty Acids) in our diet, too. When we’re low, run down and bone tired our bodies become naturally low in three different chemicals – dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These greatly affect our mood, how we think and make the difference between whether our brains are foggy or clear. To solve this, we need to turn to foods that are naturally high in protein and complex carbohydrates to give us two particular nutrients which have a balancing effect. They are called:
We also need to look to the B vitamin group to help give us energy and lift our mood. B vitamins are also good for de-stressing us and can be found in everything from high quality complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat rice, grains, quinoa and oats through to dark green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach and cabbage.
Finally, there are the all important Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids. We hear so much about these in the news, but many people don’t realize that there are other foods to get these nutrients from besides oily fish (some folks can be put off by salmon, mackerel and sardines). To get a good uptake of this, you can simply include foods like pumpkin seeds, flax seed oil and even white fish like Halibut or Pollock into your diet. Beans, nuts and legumes, cooked simply can all provide a good supply too.
If you live to eat and choose foods that can stimulate your mind as well as your soul, you can really help yourself to overcome the stresses and strains of modern living in a simple and delicious way. It might not be a cure, but it really can help.