Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Your Body Talks – Here’s How to Respond

This article is also available on Nutrition in Motion's blog NIM Dish

Your Body Talks – Here’s How to Respond
Sarah Reid, RHNC

Ever wish your body could just come out and say what was wrong with it? No more vague aches here, odd swelling there, and finally finding out why you’re so tired and strung out all the time?

Well, your inner self can’t pick up the phone or send you an email, but it can communicate – seemingly benign, too subtle to mind signals fire out all the time, but the trick is to learn the language of “human” and figure out what to do.

Whether you’re feeling stiff and achy, exhausted, or stressed out to no end with blood pressure in the stratosphere, the good news is that the fixes can be as simple and quick as making dinner. Food has been used as medicine for centuries and is more powerful than any drug on the market, and cheaper too! The other benefit of using food to heal yourself is that it treats the root cause of the problem – malnutrition in one sense or another – and not simply the symptoms. No hangover, no withdrawal, no interactions with other items on your medicine shelf, and no side effects like drowsiness or headaches (unless you’re allergic, of course!). While the effects of eating for your system’s needs aren’t as instant as popping a pill, they last far longer.

For instance – do you find yourself crashing at 2 or 3PM every day and can’t get your pizzazz back, even though you sleep well at night? It’s probably time to take a look at your B vitamin and iron levels. While getting enough iron and B12 can be particularly troublesome for vegetarians and vegans (since B12 is only found in animal or lacto-fermented food), these elements (along with B6, another energy-booster) are commonly lacking in most modern-day individuals. Why? Too much processed, nutrient-void food (including items high in fat, sugar and salt), depleted soil and stress all provide answers. The kitchen cure is found mostly in shellfish, oily fish, low-fat dairy and miso, so regularly hitting the sushi bar for a brown-rice salmon roll and a bowl of miso soup isn’t such a bad idea!

Low levels of copper and manganese, as well as magnesium, are to blame for stiff and aching joints in the morning. Coupled with regular exercise such as brisk walking daily, regular intake of seeds, nuts, whole grains, soybeans and chickpeas will help keep those aches at bay. Magnesium also helps reduce muscle tension, cramping and blood pressure, which is great news for severe PMS or migraine sufferers. Hypertension also signals your body’s need for more potassium and B6, to cope with an excess of sodium in the blood.

Finally, if you’re one of the many who feel that “rolling with the punches” life throws at you is not as easy as it used to be, and find daily stresses weigh on you like a ton of bricks, the powerhouse B complex of vitamins are your best defensive tact. Sapped by overworking adrenals (producers of the “fight or flight” chemical epinephrine and the chronic stress hormone cortisol), B1, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid need to be constantly replenished to maintain even moods, nerve function and adequate amounts of the “feel-good” chemical dopamine in the brain and bloodstream.

Of course, if you’ve developed a long-standing deficiency due to years of poor eating, medication use and stress, you may need to pinch-hit with a supplementation program until your levels are back to normal. Talk to a nutritionist to determine the best course of action, and how to modify your diet, lifestyle and attitudes towards food to best support your needs.

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About Me

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I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!

Today, my love for teaching is branching out even further - I'm in Montessori training to solidify my love for the system and working with children and families!