Holistic Nutrition uses various combinations of food and nutrients to help individuals achieve optimal mental, physical and spiritual health. It can be used as a preventative health approach for the average person without any ailments or as a modality for healing or symptom management for people living with chronic illness or other medical conditions.
The focus is on eating foods that provide your body with the highest levels of nutritional value and supplementing the diet with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, etc., when necessary. However, it is much more than just eating a balanced diet.
Diet and nutrition have a profound impact on mental and physical health. The wrong food and lack of balanced nutrients can lead to many debilitating psychological and physical symptoms and degenerative health conditions.
Holistic Nutrition is Individualized
An important part of adhering to the principles of holistic nutrition is getting to know your body and what it needs. Different people need different things. It all depends on your particular body chemistry - your unique biochemical make up.
We want to get as many of our nutrients as we possibly can naturally in our diet, however, due to soil depletion it is often necessary to supplement the diet. There is not a "one size fits all nutritional supplement." A customized supplement program designed for your unique biochemistry is the most effective method.
You can learn a lot about your body by becoming very attentive to your thoughts, feelings and reactions to specific foods and supplements. Tune into your body and learn to read the messages it provides you. Keep a journal of physical and psychological symptoms and then research their relationship to diet and nutrient levels. However, it can also be helpful to have some biochemical lab work done to help you pinpoint specific nutritional deficiencies or disorders and tell you how well your detox pathways are functioning and the ALCAT test can be used to identify hidden food sensitivities.
Holistic nutrition is very individualized, personal and specific to your needs. It takes into account a person's overall medical and physical health, as well as the issues that he or she is trying to improve or heal. It also considers the underlying issues that are going on with your health as well as how ill a person is or how aggressive they want to be with obtaining the results that they want to achieve. Different illnesses, conditions or diseases have different nutritional requirements and each responds to diet and nutrition uniquely.
There is not a "one size fits all diet." A diet that one person thrives on can leave another person non-functional and in a heap on the floor. You do not want to follow a diet or supplement plan that was created for someone else. A diet that was designed for someone who suffers with asthma may not be good for someone who suffers with ulcers.
A person who is deficient in magnesium or essential fatty acids will take larger doses of these nutrients than the average person and someone who isn't deficient wouldn't want the same dosage as a person who is.
One person may be allergic or sensitive to chicken, dairy, and eggs and therefore would need to eliminate these items from their diet, while another person without these allergies could thrive and benefit from the vitamins and minerals present in these particular foods.
Some individuals may have a metabolic disorder such as hypoglycemia or diabetes and therefore would need to follow a diet regimen and supplementation plan that helps keep their blood sugar in balance.
Another person may have many different issues going on at the same time. Perhaps they have numerous food allergies, hypoglycemia or diabetes and several nutritional deficiencies. So they would have a very different nutritional plan from someone who has none of these issues.
The Basics of Holistic Nutrition
Although holistic nutrition is largely individualized, there are some basics that apply to all individuals who wish to follow a holistic nutritional plan. They include the following:
- All food should be organic as much as possible.
- Avoid junk food and processed food.
- No food with additives and preservatives.
- No sugar or caffeine.
- Drink adequate amounts of pure water. Filtered and free of chlorine and other contaminants.
- Avoid microwaves.
- No genetically engineered food.
- Identify hidden food allergies and food sensitivities.
- Address nutritional deficiencies.
- Eat whole foods in their natural state as much as possible.
Beyond that the key to designing a healthy diet plan lies in understanding your body and its unique biochemical needs.
Many people are under the false impression that eating a vegetarian diet is healthy. This is one of the worse things you can do for yourself. Optimal health requires the consumption of animal protein.The Paleolithic diet is the diet that nature intended for you to eat. Another very important part of designing a nutritious diet is to understand the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. Many people are misinformed about this aspect of diet. For example, grains, legumes, potatoes and other high starch foods are not healthy.
Getting started with Holistic Nutrition
If you're just getting started with holistic nutrition it's probably best to make changes gradually so that changes won't seem so drastic and difficult to stick with. Be patient and kind with yourself, but also be self disciplined. Change is difficult and takes time.
You also want to monitor how you feel and respond to changes, so if you make too many changes all at one time, you won't be able to identify what benefits you receive from which action you've taken.
When shopping at the health food store for organic and healthy foods, be sure to read the labels as not all of the foods are completely organic and pure and so you know exactly what you are putting into your body.
Over time your needs may change in response to healing or setbacks, so you may need to adjust your diet and supplements accordingly. If you have improvements in your health, then you may need lower dosages. On the other hand, if you have a setback with your health, you may need higher dosages or something entirely new. Food allergies or sensitivities may improve or get worse. They can sometimes swing like a pendulum in response to other factors in your life. So what you can eat one month is not necessarily what you can eat the next month.
Whatever your situation or condition may be, you can't go wrong with holistic nutrition. It leads to a better quality of life and a higher level of functioning. You'll find more balance and harmony in your mental, physical and spiritual well-being.