I’m so happy to be reporting again about happiness and health going hand in hand. It’s really everything you need to live a good life. And it’s always timely because…
Good health and happiness: to achieve one, you need the other, but bumps along the journey can get in the way of our goals.
“Without good health it’s hard to be happy,” says Michelle W. Book, holistic nutritionist for the Canadian Health Food Association. “Focusing on a few key pillars can make all the difference.”
Understanding your nutritional needs is for everyone to consider, not only Canadians.
Ideally, we’d all be eating balanced meals rich with nutritious, organic foods. Reality is, many people often eat convenience foods because of their busy lives or treat “cheat days” too kindly. As a result, they aren’t getting the necessary nutrients.
Most of us don’t consume enough minerals like magnesium, calcium or potassium, and fail to get enough vitamin D and fibre in their diets.
Strengthen your immune system
Getting sick is the worst. Sickness motivates an entire pathway inside our bodies that can lead to something called “sickness behaviour.” This can lead to confusion, lethargy, social withdrawal, anxiety and depression, the result of our immune system cells releasing tiny chemicals, called cytokines, which impact the way our brain sends signals and can slow us down and depress our mood. Keeping our immune system in good working order can help to reduce the severity and duration of illness. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help as taking a good multi-vitamin to fill in the nutritional gaps.
Keep Stress at Bay
Stress increases our need for nutrients. Heightened stress increases the breakdown of carbohydrates and protein, which rely on Vitamin C and B to be broken down, meaning you use up your store of these nutrients more quickly. Finding time to eat a healthy, balance diet when you’re stressed can often be difficult. When dealing with stress, it’s important to ensure your body’s mineral needs are met. High stress levels deplete the magnesium in the body, which can result in a “downward spiral” in one’s ability to cope with stress. Mineral supplementation, including magnesium and zinc, may improve psychological measures of anxiety or stress.
Here are a few other foods you may want to consider to improve your immune health:
Nuts: Include nuts in your diet, which provide you with a perfect blend of immune-boosting nutrients, including protein, vitamin E, zinc and selenium. Cashews and pecans in particular are some of the higher nut-based zinc sources, while Brazil nuts are high in selenium.
Kimchi: This fermented cabbage dish from Korea is rich in vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and antioxidant enzymes. It’s also a healthy whole-food source of probiotics, the good gut bacteria that keep your immune system in check.
Garlic: This member of the allium family has been shown to reduce cold symptoms and improve immune cell activity.
Probiotic supplements: Lactobacillus probiotics in particular have been shown to improve the immune systems of both our gut and our entire body.
Mushrooms: Reishi mushroom extracts contain bioactive compounds called “lectins” that increase the activity of our white blood cells.
And Mindfulness is of growing importance:
A nasty unexpected virus attacked me while traveling which was of major concern. I don’t know where it came from and don’t remember ever having taken antibiotics before but I was willing to do whatever it took to get rid of it, or discontinue the trip and go back home. I felt like the worse version of myself. Anyway, the reality is that while it took at least one week to clear up and feel almost back to normal, the worst part lasted for only two days. Not bad considering. I can only attribute it to an overall healthier way of living. Granted I did get sick in the first place but I guess it could have lasted a lot longer. I suppose you can call it being more mindful in general. So I’m right on trend.
A growing trend to de-stress is practicing mindfulness. There’s research connecting the benefits of stress reduction through practicing mindfulness with the health of our immune system. Practicing mindfulness has a number of positive impacts on the immune system, including reducing inflammation markers and stress hormones, and has also been shown to increase some immune cells and improve activity in the areas of the brain responsible for coordinating the immune system.
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” ~Sharon Salzberg
Incorporating mindfulness into your lifestyle can actually help to minimize the occurrence, length and severity of the flu or common cold. Some aspects of mindfulness can be simple to include in your everyday routine, such as paying attention to your breathing, tuning into your body’s physical sensations and practicing mindful meditation.
I like this quote:
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
Source: Canadian Health Food Association