HEALTHThe Pillars Of Health

The Pillars Of Health

By: Mercedes Kay Gold

It’s never too late or too early to jump onto a healthier path. Prioritizing health promotes a life well lived today, tomorrow and aids in aging gracefully inside and out. Health experts may differ on the number and name of the pillars of health, but all agree change is a positive step. The foundation of a healthy lifestyle is built based on a consistent commitment to nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress-management, water, social support, and sometimes a side of supplements. Body loving basics build a solid foundation supporting overall physical, emotional and mental health. 

Nutrition

Nothing compares to nutrition. Meal planning should revolve around fruits and veggies. Eating a plethora of fresh picked produce provides an endless bounty of fiber, plus mega minerals and vitamins. Mother Nature provides a sensational spectrum of colors translating into a nutritional jackpot. Fruits and vegetables get their rainbow of natural colors from chemical compounds, referred to as phytochemicals, helping protect them against environmental threats. Humans benefit from their antioxidant properties and the production of various vitamins and minerals. Each color is indicative of different nutrient content, enforcing the idea of the importance of dining and snacking on various vibrant colors. Red is associated with lycopene, a powerful antioxidant helping prevent cancer and the best reason to love tomatoes and watermelon. Yellow and orange hues are stocked full of beta-carotene, the pre-cursor to vitamin A, an ideal eye health aid and an awesome immune system booster. Choose carrots, cantaloupe, mango, squash, and sweet potatoes. Lush, gorgeous green goodness is thanks to chlorophyll and a deeper tone translates into more marvelous magnesium. Green is a great go-to for inflammation and diabetes. Leafy greens are super for skin and eye-health thanks to lutein and zeaxanthin. Beautiful blues and purples contain the phytochemical anthocyanin and linked to neurological and cardiovascular health. Blueberries, blackberries and the often-forgotten eggplant are top picks. Yes, white is a color! Cauliflower and turnips play a protective role in cancer thanks to a high concentration of glucosinolates. Cooked mushrooms are also vitamin D delights and may support cancer, too. Onions and garlic are polyphenol powerhouses, playing a role in Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, and type-2 disease. Plant-based diets are the rage and for good reason, but plants, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains are incomplete proteins. Animal sources on the other hand contain all the amino-acids. The key to perfecting plant-based nutrition is mixing legumes with rice, grains and corn or eating the only two superstar complete plant proteins, quinoa and hemp. Healthy fats are required too. Nuts, seeds, avocado and chia are key. 

Water

The human body is comprised of at least 60% water and essential to life. Everyday its depleted through digestion, heat, sweat, stress, medication, alcohol, and even our phones. Water is crucial in maintaining blood pressure balance in the body. Water transports wastes for removal, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints, minimizes allergies and asthma, dissolves and transports minerals and vitamins plus a slew of other reasons helping offset potential health conditions. Experts vary on the right amount of water required daily. The minimum is 30ml per kg of body weight. Urine should be straw colored and never smell. 

Exercise

Move it or lose it! Variety is the spice of life, even regarding exercise. Longevity is based on cardiovascular and strength training plus a focus on flexibility. Varying the type, length and intensity targets different muscles, helps lowers resting heart rate and blood pressure. Exercise is about reaping the daily benefits inside and out from weight management to increased energy levels and a great night’s sleep. Exercise is the only way to stay young naturally. 

Sleep

A good night’s rest is a tough one for the bulk of the population, especially for shift workers. The ideal sleep sanctuary temperature is under 20 degrees Celsius, dark, quiet, and a space free of television, laptops, tablets and phone time. Eliminating all traces of blue light with an eye mask, ear plugs and leaving your phone on airplane mode is snooze savvy. Pre-lights out, sip on valerian, lemon balm, passionflower or chamomile tea followed by an Epsom bath with lavender essential oil. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced in the body, helping induce sleep and can be bought at any health store. Duplicating the soothing sounds of crickets or waterfall is not easy living in the city, but sound machines offer tons of nature-inspired options, mimicking the great outdoors for a super snooze. 

Social Circle

Life is busy and allocating time to make and maintain close bonds can be challenging, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Friends can help you celebrate in happy times, provide support in troubled times and prevent loneliness. Companionship is a self-confidence booster, helping reinforce favorable lifestyle habits, ultimately impacting mental health and in turn impacting physical health. Balance is key and a social circle is apart of being a balanced being. 

Stress

Life is a roller coaster of emotions and stressors. Learning how to manage life’s ups and downs means living in the moment. Forget the past, ignore the future and live in the now. Daily journaling, meditation, yoga, and spending time outdoors in nature lower stress levels, minimizing chronic inflammation throughout the body.

Supplements

Even the best diet can benefit from the extra nutrients supplied in supplements. Over farming has depleted the soil of precious minerals and vitamins. For that reason, grocery shoppers sought an alternative, fueled by the notion organic food is more nutritious and cleaner, containing less chemicals than conventional choices. Multiple studies support organic produce contains greater levels of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Grass-fed, organic and non-GMO is tough with a tight grocery bill budgeting goal. Supplements can fill the gap. Vitamins A, C, E, better known as the acronym A-C-E are this nutritionist’s odds-on-favorite. All three are stellar immune supporting supplements, as well as fighting cancer causing free radicals throughout the body. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body. From addressing shaky leg syndrome to sleep issues and elevated blood pressure to diabetes, a scoop of magnesium powder in water is a health gamechanger. Everyone living north of the equator needs to add vitamin D, better known as the sunshine vitamin to their protocol. It plays an integral role as a hormone and addressing depression. Powdered greens are always in style. A diet consisting of countless cups of produce daily still leaves the average Joe deficient. There is a definite link between gut and brain health, making probiotics positively the best way to feed your belly good bacteria. Happy gut happy life!

Holistic happiness is about seeing your health wholistically. Achieving balance between the body, mind and spirit helps protect your inner peace. Imbalances in one part affect overall health. Back to the basics is an easier comfort zone for most. Try taking a little detour from the norm by adding a few holistic hacks to your daily regime! Before your first cup of java, its all about focusing on oral hygiene. The ancient Ayurvedic practice of tongue scraping is a morning ritual removing the ama or white film coating the tongue. With approximately 7 to 14 scrapes back to front across the tongue using a stainless steel or copper scraper, toxins are eliminated rather than reabsorbed. Its helpful for helping halt halitosis. Wake up every cell by using a firm natural bristle brush and brush the skin counterclockwise using small strokes from the tips of toes to the top of your body. The ritual of dry brushing is invigorating. It is an awesome aid for digestion and lymphatic system plus helps diminish the appearance of cellulite. In 400 BC Hippocrates documented unpasteurised apple cider vinegar as a prized antibiotic and overall health tonic. A spoonful in water is anti-viral, helps banish belly bloat and even helps improve blood sugar levels. Forgo the coffee and flood cells with green goodness, choosing a shot of barley or wheat grass. Implementing new things can take anywhere from 18-254 days to turn into a habit. Choose one or two and commit! The last three baby steps along the healthy trail are adding the wondrous weed dandelion. From sunshine top to the root, reap the benefits from this natural diuretic, digestive aid, liver and blood cleaner with tea, leaves in salads, capsules, and tinctures. Sprouting and growing herbs is first-class fresh chlorophyll candy and packed with countless health benefits plus power up kitchen favorites. 

Life is about making choices. Eating well and staying fit keeps you healthy today, tomorrow and in the future. Genes play a smaller role in determining our health than our daily habits. Prioritizing self-care and taking personal accountability is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle long term. 

Mercedes Kay Gold is a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutritionist @mercedeskaygoldfitness    mercedeskaygold.com

Photo by Marc Najera on Unsplash