Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Nourishing the body naturally

Published:Wednesday | March 15, 2023 | 12:17 AM

THERE IS a lot of talk about self-care these days, but what is it really? Self-care means paying attention to and supporting one’s own physical and mental health. It is also a big part of treatment for many physical and mental health disorders.

It is very important, but it is also one of the first things to fall by the wayside in times of stress, especially for those who are primary caregivers. This includes parents, people caring for elderly relatives, healthcare providers, and first responders. These are the people who often put the well-being of others above themselves.

Well, we cannot function very well if we are not very well. If it is important to us to be able to take care of others, then we must pay attention to our own well-being. When we do not take care of ourselves, no one wins.

According to Dr Jermaine Nicholas, board certified doctor of naturopathy and director at Nutriverse Natural Wellness Centre, learning how to nourish your body, whether after a stressful situation, after drinking, during menstruation, or just during everyday life takes time, patience, and getting to know yourself. It is important to note that you cannot develop a great self-care routine overnight.

Dr Nicholas suggests a NEWSTART programme that can get you started on your wellness journey. This programme includes Nutrition-Exercise-Water-Sunshine-Temperance-Air-Rest and Trust In God.

Proper nutrition means eating healthy. Dr Nicholas suggests that we should stay away from inflammatory, sugar-spiking, insulin-releasing foods like processed carbohydrates (think all added sugars and anything made with flour) and aim for things that grow on plants or trees.

The more colourful the fruits or vegetables, the more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they have and the healthier they are. We do not have to be perfect, but the more plant-based our diets are, the better.

“Clean eating is defined as eating fresh, whole foods. Think fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts. Anything that comes in a box or package is not a whole food, and will not have the same nutritional value as something that comes straight from the earth,” he said.

Dr Nicholas, who was presenting at the ‘B-Healthy 2023 Webinar Series’ hosted by Dr Orlando Thomas, physician and surgeon, and functional medicine specialist, said persons must become physically active.

“Exercise busts stress, boosts the mood, and elevates our energy level, not to mention the heart health benefits. Believe it or not, you can exercise just about anywhere, anytime. It does not have to be at the gym. It does not have to be a scheduled class. And it does not have to be more than a few minutes a day. All activity counts. I encourage patients to think of an activity that they enjoy. Anything. Think about how that enjoyable activity can fit into your life,” Dr Nicholas said.

He also suggests that we drink more water. Water helps our bodies stay loose and lubricated, it aids digestion, carries nutrients around our bodies, regulates body temperature, and much more.

Although recommendations can vary, generally, if you take your weight in pounds, divide by two, you get the number of ounces of water you should drink every day. For example, if you are 150 pounds, then drink about 75 ounces of water a day. Of course, if you are exercising during the day, you will add about 12 ounces per half an hour you work out.

“Drinking enough water through the day can sometimes be difficult. Make it easier by filling up a large water bottle and drinking through the day. If you have some medical conditions like thyroid or kidney, be sure to check with your doctor to determine how much water is right for you,” he said.

One of the vitamins our bodies need is vitamin D, yet at least 41 per cent of adults are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D can be absorbed through our diets via foods like eggs (with the yolk) or fish, but one of the main ways our bodies get vitamin D is through the sun: Vitamin D is synthesised in our skin when we come in contact with the sun.

“Get somewhere between eight and 15 minutes of sunlight exposure without sunscreen per day. This is the easiest and cheapest way to get your daily allotment of vitamin D. And it has many benefits, including boosting your immune system, reducing risk of cancer, protecting your bones, and helping the body absorb and use other vitamins and minerals, like calcium,” Dr Nicholas said.

Sleep is absolutely essential to our health and well-being, but often, it is what we cancel to fit in other stuff. Experts estimate that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but it does vary per person.

“Getting less than seven hours of sleep on a regular basis can lead to sleep deprivation. Depriving yourself of sleep can lead to things like mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations. People who are chronically sleep deprived are at risk of early death,” Dr Nicholas said.

Getting enough sleep, however, leads to better weight, getting sick less often, reduced stress, lower risk of heart disease, and even getting along with people better.

These guidelines, he said, will help to nourish your body by creating a healthy routine without depriving yourself. While nothing is guaranteed, these are sure to help you treat your body right and embrace it for all of the amazing things your body can do.

Maybe we cannot do all these things every day, but if we make self-care a goal, and try to address all of these factors regularly, then we will feel and function better. The better we feel and function, the more we can do for the people and things we care about. And that is a win-win.