There can be a benefit from including various super foods, supplements and tonic herbs in your daily routine. The effectiveness of these in improving your health is limited by not doing the most important things in your diet choices. In my over 40 years’ experience counseling and teaching, I came to realize that it is the big things in your daily diet and life that make the smaller things such as tonic herbs, supplements, and super foods effective in supporting your health.
What are the big things of health? In diet the first element that is crucial to supporting well being is energy from food. The energy that we get from food is not some mystical substance. It is the energy that runs the body and mind. The biggest thing that we can do in diet is to take in enough calories to fuel the body.
Most health practioners, doctors, and nutritionists focus on having people eat less calories. Scientific studies of healthy people at different ages reveal that most people underreport their calorie intake. Government recommendations are based on these self-reported calorie intake surveys as are the labels that say people need 2000 calories per day.
When healthy people who are a stable weight are tested for the actual calories they consume in a controlled setting, women over 25 eat 2500 calories and men over 25 eat 3000 calories per day without exercising. These are the requirements for those between 5 to 6 feet in height. Under 5 feet in height, people need slightly less and over 6 feet, slightly more. Pregnant women need much more.
If one eats alot less calories than these amounts, it has been shown that numerous health issues can occur at all ages including psychological problems and especially being irritable. This is often jokingly referred to as being hangry (hunger and anger). Depression, anxiety, unclear thinking, a lack of libido, impotence, and digestive issues, PCOS, insomnia and many more health problems can result. Over time a lack of energy/calories can lead to serious disorders such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Both regular and holistic doctors do not recognize overly restrictive eating that results in a lack of calories when either done unintentionally or because of so called healthier food choices. The resulting problems from a lack of calories are treated by regular medical doctors with synthetic thyroid hormones, anti-depressants, testosterone or estrogen hormones and a host of other drugs. Holistic doctors use supplements, herbs and other natural substances. These medicines or natural supplements will have limited benefits because the real source of the problem is not being addressed.
Restrictive eating resulting in not enough calories to fuel the body and mind is more common than one would think. Many people in the U.S believe that they can’t trust their hunger to guide their appetites. They are not aware of a natural way of eating that is not restrictive. 90% of Americans try to limit their calories.
After calories, the most important nutrients are the maxi nutrients. The nutrients that we need in larger amounts which include carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Our body is designed to run on carbohydrates. Starches in the form of both unrefined grains and organic refined grains such as white rice and unbleached flour are the fist choices as they are digested a bit slower than sugars. Sugars from fruit, fruit juices and natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, unrefined cane juice, organic sugar and others are important as smaller parts of the daily diet. Both are crucial for providing the energy for the body. Natural sugars make it easier to get enough calories and provide quick energy for glands such as the thyroid. Natural sugars are easier to digest that starches. Low carb diets put the body under stress which eventually lowers the metabolism weakening all the organ functions.
Adequate proteins are necessary for numerous structures such as the bones, white blood cells, digestive enzymes, brain chemicals and more. Complete proteins are only available from animal products. Vegetarians can get enough protein from having daily amounts of dairy products and eggs from naturally raised animals. Others require daily amounts of naturally raised meats, fish, poultry and other animal products. Vegans may be able to boost their amounts of proteins with rice or pea protein powders as long as their calorie intake is high.
The last important nutrient that we need in bulk is fats. The best fats are saturated from natural butter, coconut oil, dairy products and mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil. Fats are important for many structures in the body and mind. Eating enough fats also make it easier to get adequate calories.
These are the big things to get right in diet. The big things in diet are really the big things that affect health. After diet, the next big things that affect health are in our daily lifestyle choices and practices.
Herbs, vitamins and minerals in foods such as vegetables and other natural foods, super foods and supplements help to move energy in the body to various organs and systems. In order for these natural nutrients and substances to be beneficial, there has to be enough energy in the body to utilize them and we need strong body structures. It can take time to build this inherent strength and energy in the body to utilize food effectively when one is healing. Patience and diligence is needed.
Getting the big things: calories, carbohydrates, proteins and fats ensure that the small things that we take in work to improve one’s health. If you only focus on the small things such as a superfoods, avoiding one kind of food or a special supplement, you’ll have limited improvements in your health. Focusing on the small things is like re-arraigning the deck chairs on the Titanic.