Our Essential Pillars of Health
~ What do we need to stay healthy? ~
I wholeheartedly believe in the power of educating ourselves and being proactive in terms of our health. Our body is highly intelligent and capable. When we supply our system with what it needs to function optimally (BIOHACKING), we can exceed an existence of 'surviving' and THRIVE.
Obviously I won’t be able to cover e v e r y t h i n g in this article and I want to keep it short for you, but I would like to mention a few KEY COMPONENTS that will keep our body healthy or help us to recover quickly.
1. BALANCED MICROFLORA
If you know me, you might have heard me talking about
this many times before… And I won’t shut up about it :)
It’s simply too important: Most of us are not getting
enough quality probiotics to the right location.
Okay, what are probiotics again and what is the
‘right location’? Probiotics literally means FOR LIFE, while antibiotics means AGAINST LIFE (pretty self explaining, hey?). Probiotics are our good buddies, our allies, that fight for us against the ‘bad guys’ in our body. Some of those bad fellows are okay to host, but they really have to be held at bay by a good surplus of the good guys. Our microflora needs to be in a HEALTHY BALANCE; that means we need way more of our good friends than of the opportunistic species that take advantage of us, steal our nutrients, produce toxic byproducts, and use our body as their hotel.
So, how do we get enough of those good guys? We can get them from RAW FERMENTED foods, however those are completely missing in the standard American diet. Yes yes, you are guessing it right: I’m talking about sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kefir, apple cider vinegar, etc. And raw fermented means: UNPASTEURIZED. This is crucial, cuz when those foods are heated, the probiotics get killed. It is also important to make sure the fermented foods don’t contain any added sugar, white vinegar, or table salt, as those are counterproductive when we are trying to establish a healthy gut.
Since most people don’t eat enough of that good stuff and/ or our environment can be extremely challenging, I recommend supplementing additionally with a good quality probiotic. And yes, it matters what kind you’re taking. If we compare probiotics with dogs, then would you rather be protected by a chihuahua or by a wolf dog? And unfortunately many products are a waste of money as the probiotics are not viable any more or the good bacteria are not reaching all the way into the LARGE INTESTINE - and that is where they should be! In order to get there, our little friends have to make it successfully through the stomach acid as well as through the small intestine, where a way too large number of probiotics often gets dumped (SIBO). They need to be obviously well protected, therefore I recommend using probiotics that are embedded in a protective system.
Also, we cannot just “throw a whole bunch of yuppies into bad neighbourhood and expect they are not getting beaten up” LOL (quoting herbalist Yarrow Willard). So, we need to clean up the environment and equip the probiotics well. If we feed them properly, they will do well. On the other hand, if we eat lots of sugar, we rather supply the bad guys and that's what they're signaling us to eat (that’s why we're craving sugar when our microflora is out of balance). However, veggies is what nurtures the good guys and makes them thrive (that’s why our taste buds change the healthier our digestive system becomes). Therefore I recommend probiotic products which contain a ‘lunch box’ for our dear friends, so called PRE-biotics.
A balanced microflora is a key component to our health... there are more and more studies coming out about how many conditions are linked to a sick microflora, from obesity to immune disorders and autism.
2. OXIDATIVE STRESS DEFENSES
Another phrase that you might have heard me talking about a lot because it’s also absolutely crucial to the health of our cells and therefore our body: reducing oxidative stress. So, what is that again? When you cut an apple and leave it for a few minutes, you notice brown discolouration and that’s oxidization, a reaction with oxygen. Oxygen is a life giving as much as a life destructive element. A certain amount of oxidization is normal and it’s part of aging. The problem is when there is too much too quickly and our cells' defence mechanisms get overwhelmed. It’s like when our car starts to rust: once it starts, it can’t be stopped, it’s like a disease. And that’s when it’s called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in linked to over 200 diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
So we obviously need to stop the problem right where it starts, before it goes into the typical snowball effect which is: A free radical comes and steals an electron from a perfectly healthy molecule of a cell (and that could be any cell: gut, blood vessels, skin, eyes, etc.) to balance itself out. But guess what happens to the formerly intact molecule that has been robbed of an electron? Since it has an electron missing and is unstable, it becomes a free radical itself and will do the same thing to the next molecule of some healthy tissue. This goes on and on - snowball effect.
Nature has already found a solution to the problem: molecules that can donate an electron to another molecule without becoming a free radical themselves - ANTIOXIDANTS. So they help stop the oxidization!
Okay, how can we get those antioxidants??
A) We can eat them. Plants and their fruits and vegetables all have antioxidants and some are really high in them such as: berries, green tea, kale, raw cacao. That’s one of the reasons why I recommend a PLANT BASED diet (what doesn’t mean vegetarian btw). On the bottom of the food pyramid, we should have water (I recommend alkaline water with molecular hydrogen - decreases oxidative stress) but right after that we should put the vegetables. So our plate should consist mostly of vegetables! 10 servings a day is a good amount to aim for. Easy ways to increase our antioxidant intake from fresh vegetables and fruits is by incorporating smoothies, juices, and sprouts or microgreens.
B) We can make them! Nature has a powerful antioxidant defence system. Yes, we can make our own antioxidants and they are actually way more potent than any antioxidants we could eat. You might have heard of glutathione and superoxide dismutase? These antioxidant enzymes can be made in the body and they work up to a million times (I’m not kidding) more efficient than antioxidants like vitamin C. So that means that one antioxidant enzyme, that has been made by our own body (endogenous), can disarm a million free radicals! In comparison: the antioxidants, that we get from plants (exogenous), can only disarm ONE free radical per antioxidant. Pretty powerful mechanism that we have in our body, hey? And depending on how we live and what we do, we can upregulate or downregulate that mechanism. This is called EPIGENETICS, the study of how our environment affects the expression of our genes. There are a few powerful things we can do in our day-to-day life to feed this mechanism of our cellular defense system. I’ll mention a few here:
a) Eat cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, etc.) - the sulforaphane, that they contain, stimulates a protein called Nrf2 in our cells that switches on this incredibly desirable mechanism.
b) Drink alkaline, hydrogen infused water - molecular hydrogen turns on Nrf2 and therefore has anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing effects on the body (contact me for recommendations on water filters).
c) Supplementation - get a quality Nrf2 activator made out of plant ingredients and supplement daily to decrease your oxidative stress levels, keep your cells healthy, reduce inflammation, and slow down ageing.
d) Exercise - while exercising actually stimulates some free radical production it turns on massive antioxidant enzyme power in the body. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has been found to be the most efficient, but honestly - do the exercise YOU like. If you like it, you’ll actually do it and also enjoyment is another really good health booster :)
3. HEALTHY MITOCHONDRIA
This is a topic you might have not heard as much about; however, it’s just as important as the previous two. Why am I talking about mitochondria and what are they anyways? They are the powerhouses of our cells. They produce ATP (ENERGY) for our body functions. All of our cells contain mitochondria except our red blood cells. The majority of mitochondria sits in our brain. So, they are quite important :) In fact, all major conditions are linked to a deficiency of well functioning mitochondria. Mitochondrial dysfunction is thought to be one of the primary causes of age-related decline, playing a significant role in neurological, muscular, cardiac and metabolic disorders. As we age, we lose more and more mitochondria - BUT there is no reason to despair: our super intelligent system can produce new ones! For that we need the right conditions though, right environment, right nutrients.
A few tips on how to feed our mitochondria right:
a) Healthy fat intake. High quality fat is premium fuel for our body, gives us plenty of energy, supplies fat soluble nutrients, keeps our blood sugar stable, and is even important for a healthy body weight. To mention a few amazing sources: coconut oil, avocados, olives, grass fed ghee, grass fed beef tallow, wild salmon, sardines, bone broth, chia, hemp, almonds, walnuts. Leave out ‘dirty’ fats such as canola oil, soy bean oil, hydrogenated fats as they inflame and stiffen our cell membranes, make us achy, tired, and dysfunctional.
b) Avoid sugar! If we’re eating too much sugar, our mitochondria can’t burn it fast enough for energy, so it ends up getting stored as fat and causes free radicals. Sugar is a quick energy fix, but it’s a low quality fuel that doesn’t last long and actually robs us energy and nutrients. Ongoing spikes and drops in blood sugar are extremely unhealthy and don’t feel good. You probably know this energetic and emotional rollercoaster when you start the day with the wrong breakfast and this sets the rest of your day…
c) Supplement with a high quality mitochondrial booster - help your body to turn on the protein that is responsible for activating healthy mitochondrial production (called Nrf1) and boost cellular energy.
d) Yep, exercise - again. When you exercise you actually
make new mitochondria and therefore you will gain more
energy and many other health benefits!
4. The last point that I want to address here is BELIEF.
Why is this important and what does this have to do with health?
If our mindset and our vibration, that we’re putting out, is of low quality, it’s almost impossible to stay healthy. We could eat all the right foods, best supplements, and exercise daily and still not thrive. We all have underlying beliefs about ourselves and the world and we might not even be aware of them. The belief could be something like “I’m not capable”, “I’m powerless”, "I'm not worthy", “I’m a victim”... And if our vibration is low then we attract more low vibration because we basically ask the universe for more low vibration. It works the other way round too: if we raise our vibration then we attract a higher vibration into our life.
It could be the missing piece in why someone is getting constantly sick, why the same issues keep on coming up, or why you might be feeling stuck. If that resonates with you and your situation, look inside and inquire. It’s not always about eating more kale.. while it all goes together of course since our body works HOLISTICALLY. Usually if we eat better, exercise, etc. we already raise our vibration, and also if we let go of some inner negative self-sabotaging pattern, we feel more drawn to a healthy lifestyle. If this resonates with you and you would like support - I also work with my clients on unveiling these subconscious beliefs and develop a healthy compassionate relationship with them.
What I find is most important, is to actually believe that we can do it and not be held back by fear. If we don’t believe that we can get better, that our body can heal itself, that we have perfect resources within, then we cannot really be helped. However, if we believe that our body is designed to thrive and that we are part of a higher intelligence that we have access to at any time, we are unstoppable. So, believe in yourself, empower yourself, be grateful, and love. This is what I call 'Heart-Food'. The best medicine ever.