Sugar; preservatives; growth hormones; pesticides... With today's health information overload, sedentary lifestyles and an increasing disconnect between food production and what's on our plates, it's sometimes difficult to believe we're living our healthiest lives.
Holistic wellness author Xochi Balfour believes that nature and your own inner wisdom should be the driving force behind giving your body what it needs. Here are her top tips for living a more natural life...
Photo (plus main image) by Rahel Weiss
No one knows better what is good for us than ourselves. So often, we jump into diets and fads because they're trendy or have been touted as "life changing" or "weight shedding" by celebrities and influencers – but one person's medicine can be another's poison, and tapping back into our own powers of intuition is so important for optimal health.
If you crave meat, eat grass-fed organic options once in a while. If you thrive on veggies, keep going and supplement those minerals and vitamins you might be at risk of deficiency in. If dairy and gluten irritate you, eliminate them. We have to follow or own path and a food diary is a great place to start; writing down what we eat and how it makes us feel allows us to easily identify patterns and take the power back into our own hands.
Hardly any of us eat the optimal amount of fiber each day and, without it, we can't achieve proper bowel elimination and vital detoxification. Plant cellulose is so important for cleaning things out and also regulating the release of sugar into the blood, thus helping balance our energy levels after we eat sweet things.
I always encourage people to eat a rainbow: fruits and veggies come in all hues and they perform such a wide variety of functions within the body. Sweet potatoes, beets, berries and greens all nourish us in different ways and ensuring variety as well as quantity (and of course quality) is key to good health.
Over the last few decades we have seen so many artificial preservatives, colours, fragrances and enhancers added to the lotions and potions we use each day and they risk placing a huge strain on our detoxification systems.
Making the move toward chemical-free living (or reduced chemical use) is not only better for our wellbeing but also a wonderful journey of creativity and discovery, empowering us as consumers to take our nourishment away from laboratory technicians and into our own, coconut oil-drenched, chamomile-fragranced hands...
Photo by Rahel Weiss
Living in the city, it can be so hard to feel connected to nature; but parks and green spaces are wonderful and it's incredibly beneficial for our bodies and our souls to spend some time surrounded by what I like to call the healing green.
The oxygen plants give us, the balancing electrons and antioxidants we can receive from walking barefoot, and the soothing sounds of birds and animals all serve to nurture our parasympathetic nervous system – the relaxation/rest and digest mode that, in the current whirlwind of life, we spend increasingly less time in.
When we feel stressed and overwrought, it can be hard to stay positive. One thing I always tell clients to do is exercise gratitude. It can be daily or weekly, the more often the better, and the simple act of acknowledging one or two things we are grateful for each morning is tremendously powerful for our emotional (and hence physical) wellbeing.
Generating a sense of positivity interrupts our negative thought patterns and allows the nervous system to relax; starting a gratitude journal to come back to when times are tough can really change the way you live your life and strengthen not only your own sense of joy and positivity but also your relationships with those most important to you.
Xochi is a holistic wellbeing writer, trainee naturopathic nutritionalist, and author of The Naturalista: Nourishing Recipes to Live Well.
Images (unless otherwise specified): Shutterstock