4 Nutritional Strategies for Optimum Wellbeing
In relation to health and fitness where do we find happiness? Is it from losing weight and fat alone? I believe not. In order to make healthy, sustainable changes to our health and wellbeing, we must transform our lifestyle. This is done by creating habits that enhance our health. It is important to have all the essential information when trying to achieve optimal health. For example, it is important to realise fat loss is influenced by many different metabolic influences such as, our metabolic rate, stress hormones, glucose tolerance, internal toxicity, energy intake, and current body composition. Optimal health and wellbeing is accompanied by healthly weight and body composition. Achieving the health and body you desire is not always easy. It takes many changes, time, and balance with eating and exercise.
In order to achieve a lifestyle where you are able to live life to the full we must focus on overall wellbeing. What is wellbeing?
• The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy (dictionary definition)
• A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, equal health (world health organisation definition)
• A state of optimal body composition and health – physical, mental and emotional, spiritual, and social – where one is at peace and can enjoy life’s pleasures (our definition)
This article focuses on 4 main strategies for overcoming and changing a malfunctioning body, in order to achieve the best possible wellbeing and efficiency for life.
ONE: Control Glycemic Load
To improve glucose tolerance and avoid radical blood sugar fluctuations, we must control our glycemic load. After eating our blood sugar rises as food is digested. When our blood sugar levels are unstable and fluctuate, it causes what is called oxidative stress. This places unnecessary strain on the body and results in increased inflammation in the body. Sure you have heard of high and low blood sugar being an issue, but it is also the swing between rising and falling that causes damage. If we can aim for moderate blood glucose levels our energy levels and emotions remain more stable, it is easier to lose weight, reduced risk of diabetes, and decreased chance of inflammation occurring in the body.
To achieve stable levels of blood glucose, we must consume low glycemic index (GI) foods or a combination of foods to effectively lower the glycemic index of high GI foods. This can be achieved by adding fats, fiber and acidic condiments. For example, by cooking with coconut oil and adding acids such as vinegars or lemon for flavouring.
TWO: Support Insulin Sensitivity
This is the ability for cells to bind with insulin and draw glucose into the cells from the blood stream. When this process of binding does not occur effectively, which is known as insulin resistance, blood glucose levels in the body remain high. Like with unstable blood sugar levels, when they remain high oxidative stress occurs, which can result in clogged arteries, damaged tissue and inflammation. The benefits of good insulin sensitivity are stable energy levels, greater metabolism utility, and increased ability to build muscle and restore muscle glycogen.
Insulin sensitivity can be improved by individualised macronutrient ratios and optimal physical activity. Physical activity of any kind is essential, as post-workout our muscles and cells are craving fuel, in the form of glucose. Studies show that multi-set strength training paired with interval training is best. Noting that, the greater the volume and intensity, the more effective.
THREE: Solve Nutrient Deficiencies
Nutrient deficiency occurs when we do not have adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in our diet. Correct quantities of micronutrients allow for better energy, mood, sleep, metabolism, and immunity. Nutrient levels are monitored by the brain and the body’s ability for tissues to function properly. Deficiencies in nutrients can stimulate ‘nutrient hunger’, leading people to eat more in the hope of fulfilling nutrient needs.
To overcome nutrient deficiencies we must eat a diet with a variation of different foods. This gives us the greatest chance of filling our micronutrient needs. Start by checking your vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc levels. Remember too low in micronutrients we go into deficiencies, but too high in micronutrients can be toxic too. Make sure you get tests before taking supplements and then continue to monitor levels.
FOUR: Minimise Toxic Load
Processed or ‘junk’ food is toxic for our bodies and is very low in nutrients. So why do we eat ‘junk’? Manufacturers try to make food as tasty as possible to get you ‘hooked’ and ‘addicted’, by making them ‘hyperpalatable’ for enhanced tastes. There are additives in processed foods such as food dyes, chemical preservative, artificial sweeteners, and vegetable oils that have been treated with the solvent hexane before being bleaching and degummed. These have been added to everything like yoghurt, cereals, breads, processed meats, canned food, and condiments.
Many of these additives and chemicals in processed foods have been found to have adverse effects on animals during studies. For example, common food dyes effecting reproduction and aspartame, an artificial sweetener, altering brain function. Whether or not these chemicals are damaging to humans in small doses is currently undetected, but either way, when the body has to detoxify chemicals and expel them from the body, the liver has to go into over drive. When the liver is unable to keep up, the toxins are stored in body tissue, which can alter many body systems, for instance DNA and signalling.
So how do we overcome these toxic processed foods? Choose whole foods. Avoid anything that comes in a package that has a long ingredients list or if you cannot read any of the first three ingredients on the list. Eat like a cave man, with an eating plan based around plant foods, including fruits and vegetables, along with animal foods, such as eggs, fish and lean meats.
Focus on being the best you can be, by putting your wellbeing first and foremost. By incorporating these strategies, you will see other aspects of health fall into place.