Friday, 4 January 2013

Consume Life with Love

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Click to go back to the main menu for Mickie Kent's Love Your Mind, Body and Soul Series

“No one knows you better than you. No one can know your body better than you - not even all those gurus that want you to part with your money so they can tell you how to live your life. So you have to strive to get to know yourself, to be your own friend, doctor and lawyer, before you try to befriend, heal or protect others. Remember for a healthy self, you must heal-thy self!”
— Mickie Kent

Lots of us may think it hard to believe, especially when we feel so run down, but we possess the world's most perfect healing machine. It's not some some incredible wonder drug or a high-tech medical device. It's our body. Some experts go further to claim that if you put yourself and your body in a state of a supercharged immune system" then the body heals and protects itself. So, we have the world's most perfect healing - now we just need to know how to run it.

Only to do this, we need to make the "right" lifestyle choices, or else face health disaster, experts continually warn us. One study found that living a healthy lifestyle could cut your risk of diabetes by as much as 80%. So, it's time to get tough on unhealthy habits, but what the "right" choices? And right for whom? Naturally, it must be right for you - and thus health is as much a mental process as it is physical. HOW we eat and HOW we exercise is just as important as WHAT we eat and WHAT exercises we do. We get what we pay for. Moreover, if you take stock of your health and the current state of your quality of life, you may see a symbiotic relationship. As your health improves, so, too, does your quality of life. But if your quality of life decreases, often due to stress and financial woes, your health is invariably affected in negative ways.

The best healthy habits for happy long life.

Vitally, over 1,400 biochemical changes occur in your body and mind during a single stress reaction. Likewise, you can shift your lifestyle to help create balance, harmony, peace of mind, visionary thinking, peak performance, and a connection to something deeper in your life. Quality of life and state of health, therefore, can be thought of as different sides of the same coin: a coin we each must personally own, treasure and take responsibility for polishing and keeping well. Yet many do not, and the result is a daunting, scary and almost inevitable decline in our state of health. The result: exponential growth in potentially life-threatening diseases that medical professionals will hit staggering numbers of people by 2030.

Foods that restart health.

Especially around the developing world, growing up in impoverished neighbourhoods or countries is a fate that great numbers of children can't escape, and people who can't afford to be interested in where their food comes from deserve to be a little more protected. Not having access to adequate medical care, too, or the funds needed to pay for care may not be within the immediate grasp of individuals. The state of their health and quality of life - that is, their daily living experience - seems not to be in their own hands or readily changeable by means of personal behaviours and actions.

However, for those of us able to enjoy freedom of choice, such as in Britain, 1 in 10 young people feel they cannot cope with day-to-day life, either, feeling their life is out of control. But many of the ailments and diseases wrought upon individuals are not beyond our control, and nutritional scientists suggest many could even be avoided. Dodging the obesity bullet is one that often comes to mind. Although doctors have rallied in a call for action of obesity, the obesity issue isn't as clear cut as simply "losing weight". Obesity is an emotional issue for many individuals, as food intake and genetics all play a part, but although some studies suggest obesity can lower vitamin D levels, other research in science has shown that not all people with excess subcutaneous fat are necessarily "unhealthy" - or every thin person necessarily free from health problems. Some fat in the body may even be healthy, as in brown fat, thought to have help burn calories. Rather it is the white visceral fat (or abdominal fat) that surrounds our internal organs, and fatty deposits that into our blood, which is the issue.

Is being overweight good for you?

Obesity bullet dodgers though, claim that obesity is controllable and reversible with personal changes in our behaviours towards food and exercise. And, adherents warn, obesity can directly lead to pulmonary diseases and arthritis, while causing an increase in diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke projected to hit devastating levels in less than 20 years. Projections were based on the use of a new prediction model presented in the British medical journal The Lancet in 2011. Obesity dodgers warn that all of this will occur in people who would otherwise be healthy had they not allowed themselves to become obese. Some believe education is important in this respect.

Bring love to your body.

Naturally, proponents against obesity believe that if people were truly educated and came to understand the health implications of years and decades of eating foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, simple sugars, trans fats and pesticide-drenched fruits and vegetables, they would not choose to consume these items. Low-fat processed foods may not always be the healthier option, either, as foods may be low or reduced in fat, but still be high in calories or have high levels of sugar or salt. Some go further to call people who follow a "risky" diet lifestyle as irresponsible as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Food is not your enemy

Millions of British women binge-eat, lie about how much they weigh and have a negative relationship with food, according to a survey of 2,000 women. The study also found that eating in secret is commonplace, with many refusing to tell family and friends the truth about how much they really consume. Researchers said boredom, stress and feeling depressed are the biggest triggers causing women to eat more. Three-quarters of UK women - 24 million - say they often feel guilty about how much they eat.

Women typically think about food 12 times a day, and those under 25 have it on their minds twice as much as those over 55, the poll found. Six out of 10 told researchers they have lied about how much food they eat, almost half (43.74%) said they snack in secret, and more than a quarter (27.68%) confess to binge-eating - this rises to more than a third (36.72%) of those under 25.

Linda O'Byrne, chief nutritionist for New Atkins Nutritional, which organised the survey, said: "These are very worrying figures that reveal many women are ill at ease with food. Whether it is binge eating, lying about how much you weigh or eating in secret, you must do your best to stamp it out.

"We want everyone to have a happy and a wholesome relationship with food and believe this can be obtained by following a sensible and satisfying weight loss regime. Whether you are on a diet or not, food should never be the enemy."

Option is the key word here. Nutritionists say we always have the option to make healthier choices. You can opt to drink water instead of soft drinks, thereby reducing your "empty" calories and not pushing your blood sugar into dangerous territory (which sets you up for another bad food choice in an hour or so). You can choose fish over chicken and chicken over beef. You should choose real meats in place of processed meat foods, or limit their intake to the grass-fed variety. You can go for grilled over fried, and whole grain over processed flour. And we know how expensive meats can be, but the days when people worried about combining foods to be sure they got complete protein in every meal seem to be behind us, too.

The dangers of vitamin supplements

There have been contradictory studies about vitamin supplements. Some studies seem to suggest that supplements may be good for you as part of a balanced eating regime, (e.g., vitamins may reduce cancer in men), but some experts have warned that other studies had found the opposite effect, and that eating a diet packed with fruit and vegetables was a safer bet - as they have proven health benefits and remain an important part of a staple diet. The five-a-day fruit and vegetables message (and even seven-a-day) in Britain has always been tied to health benefits, because it is clear that eating unprocessed fresh foods is a good idea (if only so we know what is in the food without having to trust its label contents).

Is the five-a-day a myth?

Some studies have even shown that supplements may cause cancer, or unintended side effects at least if overdosed. A 2010 study linked excess iron and copper to increased incidence of Alzheimer's disease and heart disease. Another recent study found that men who took vitamin C pills had higher risk for developing kidney stones, while too much beta-carotene and vitamin A - which is formed by beta-carotene - has been associated with increased risk for lung cancer and overall increased risk of death. Other studies have suggested that women who take high amounts of calcium increase their risk of cardiac death and moderately increase their risk for heart attack. So, what are the fitness supplements worth taking - if any?

Foods or pills?

One reputable report claims that chugging protein shakes could do more harm than good to gym-goers. It is generally believed that knocking back additional protein after a workout is supposed to support lean muscle growth and reduce body fat - but is that all it's doing to your body? Not according to the British Dietetic Association (BDA), which claims that high levels of protein can lead to nausea and kidney and liver damage.

The BDA has called for clearer warnings about the ingredients of common gym supplements, particularly protein, which many men use to speed up muscle repair and growth. Currently, supplements fall under food law, which means labelling does not have to be as specific as medicine packaging. A statement by the BDA said: "People who have these high-protein diets are now running into problems with their kidneys because of the amount of protein they must get rid of."

The BDA goes on to say that people can get enough protein naturally, from foods such as chicken, milk and fish. The Health Food Manufacturers' Association, however, was quick to stick up for fitness supplements, saying that, compared with certain foods and medicines, they have a strong health and safety record. So who should you believe?

The problem with taking too many vitamins.

Many studies now seem to be showing that vitamin supplements can come with adverse reactions, and the BDA isn't the first to warn against excess use of fitness supplements. Earlier in 2012, the Food Standards Agency advised people against the consumption of products containing the substance DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine), which is sold in the UK as a pre-workout supplement and as a fat-burner. This followed a number of reported adverse reactions in people from around the world. DMAA has also been listed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as "prohibited in competition" and until it is deemed safe, experts say you should give it a wide berth.

It's also worth noting that the BDA offers no fresh medical research to back up its claim against using additional protein to give your guns and abs a boost. There is, in fact, a body of science which supports the use of protein, and points to benefits beyond muscle building. Research by Ohio State University, for example, found that whey protein prevents the development of prostate cancer cells, while the Minnesota Applied Research Center conducted a study which linked protein (alongside a calorie-controlled diet) with increased loss of body fat. The University of Connecticut, meanwhile, found that protein supplements can improve blood vessel function.

Before you rush out and buy several kilos of whey protein or a lifetime's supply of multivitamins, consider this - fitness supplements aren't for everyone. It's not necessary for everyone to take supplements, especially if they already have a healthy diet and no underlying physical issues. However, those who train vigorously several times a week can often become run-down and certain minerals, like magnesium and zinc, can become depleted. In cases like these it may be beneficial to supplement your diet to boost immunity and recovery. It all depends on your unique circumstances - as one size doesn't fit all.

Top foods for immune health.

What you should take depends entirely on the type of physical activity you are doing, and the genetics of your own body. Considering your activity and goal is essential. For example, a runner would not need to supplement to the same extent as someone whose aim is to bulk up. Those lifting weights for size will benefit from protein, branch chain amino acids, which maintain muscle mass and speed up post-exercise recovery, and a creatine supplement. A runner, on the other hand, may only need to increase carbohydrate calories and take a magnesium or zinc supplement to boost recovery.

If the goal is fat loss, then there are supplements that can aid fat loss, although these tend to target particular areas of fat storage based on hormone balance, and in my experience, they don't work. However, certain supplements such as liquorice extract, green tea extract and fenugreek can be useful. Experts also believe that alkalising salts are the unsung hero of the supplement world - they have been shown to prevent illness and boost energy levels.

Alkalising salts are not that well known, but are believed to be hugely beneficial. Disease and bacteria thrive in acidic environments, and if our bodies become overly acidic, bacteria starts to grow, which can then turn into yeast and, later, fungus, all of which can cause a host of problems. This is why it's important to maintain a neutral blood pH level.

And what about the most commonly used fitness supplement, protein? Most experts recommend not to use protein unless you wish to go through a "bulking" phase, and even then experts prefer to use natural protein powders such as hemp, pea or a combination of the two as these don't contain fillers, allergens or sugar. But the first thing you need to do is make sure your diet is clean, as this will have a larger impact than any supplement.

So what about that BDA claim that you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet? Some nutritionists agree that individuals who are exercising to keep fit, and not professional athletes, should be able to get all the nutrients the body requires from a balanced, healthy diet. Carbohydrates will replace glycogen in muscles, while protein will help muscles repair and grow stronger. Antioxidants as part of your usual diet will help prevent oxidative damage to tissues after exercise and support the immune system, and the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 oils will dampen any inflammatory responses.

Antioxidants are key to ageless beauty.

Other experts, meanwhile, see supplements as an essential part of the refuelling process post-exercise. Nutrition consultants adhering to this theory recommend extra antioxidants to those doing hardcore exercise because it's thought that burning up all that energy creates free-radicals that need to be mopped up. Acai is a brilliant antioxidant for sporty people as it's a natural food and can improve energy levels as well as assisting with muscle pain. They also suggest that extra protein is not just for body-builders. They say our muscles are a living tissue that needs to repair after heavy use and protein provides the building blocks to do this. Suggestions given include a pure whey protein isolate powder can be added to smoothies or water.

Coffee v smoothies: Which is better for you?

Proponents for the use of supplements say that it can be hard to get everything into the diet without them. For example, we need omega-3 fats to fight inflammation caused by too many vegetable oils, milk, butter, cheese and meat. The western diet is so high in these fats and low in oily fish, that we need a fish oil supplement to counteract the balance. Thus, they see supplements as a rebalancing act.

As with every aspect of your fitness regime, you need to develop a supplement strategy before you start gorging yourself on pills and shakes. Ask your doctor (some supplements can interfere with existing medicines), nutritionist or personal trainer which ones best suit your health and fitness needs. And, this goes without saying, be careful where you buy them from.

And to ensure you're getting enough - but not too much - of any vitamin or mineral, avoid supplements that contain "mega doses" unless your doctor recommends them for medical reasons. Remember, if you think you need supplemental vitamins and minerals, talk to a doctor before buying a bottle. The recommended daily allowance for any vitamin or mineral will depend on your age, medical conditions and other factors, and a doctor or registered dietitian can help you fine-tune your intake.

Overall, you may also notice a common theme here: Most vitamins and minerals are best obtained and absorbed through real food. For example, many nutritionists would advise skipping a beta-carotene or vitamin A supplement and sticking to food sources such as sweet potatoes, watermelon, red bell peppers, carrots and spinach. For vitamin C, enjoy the culinary delights of vitamin C rich foods such as lemons, papaya, strawberries, Brussels sprouts and kale. And to avoid overdoing your calcium intake, get your calcium through food sources such as dairy, tofu, sardines, broccoli and almonds.

Ultimately, experts have concluded that the body can get all the essential amino acids it needs to make protein from foods consumed over a one to two-day period. Vegetarians use this argument to endorse their way of diet, to say that meat is not necessary to ensure a supply of complete proteins. So, we can budget our diet and have a mixture of vegetarian and meat dishes if we prefer.

Read about the healing pharmacy in your garden.

Rarity may not be as problematic as it might seem at first glance, either. Climate change is going to change the way we eat (and sometimes for the better). We can learn to grow medicinal herbs in our own gardens, as there are many natural ingredients that directly boost various aspects of the immune system, fight bacteria and viruses, detoxify harmful substances, and increase resistance against allergens. Meanwhile, even if your neighbourhood has poorly stocked grocery stores, healthier options are available elsewhere. But making a better choice requires a new way of looking at what can be bought. Behaviour modification is the key to making an informed choice instead of making food selections on autopilot. If you educate yourself about the health effects of food, you can understand how it impacts your body, experts say.

Articles on eating healthier and how to combat obesityClick here to read tips to fight inflammation and boost your immune system in the image above.

And making better food choices means more than taking a step back from obesity (and by extension, lowering your risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer) it could also help your longevity stretch, to which experts say a quick way to stretch your life expectancy is to throw away the TV, ditch the cigarettes, go out for a jog, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Munch on carrots instead of salty snacks; try jogging on a treadmill while watching TV instead of lounging on the couch (if you find ditching your favourite daytime or evening show too extreme).

The 10 habits of healthy ageing.

Nice if you can manage it, but lifestyle forming habits are hard to break. In other recommendations made by the experts to follow a healthy lifestyle, alongside the advice to keep a normal weight and ensure our nutrition is optimal, is to stop risky social behaviours, get enough "healthy" sleep, and stay socially engaged. This plan is said to help you both ward off the diseases of ageing, and lower testosterone levels that ultimately, experts warn, put you at higher risk for developing such illnesses as Alzheimer's disease.

How to fix low testosterone levels

You may be asking yourself why you'd want to increase your testosterone. Well, having high testosterone is believed to be a sign of vitality, strength and power. Testosterone is the male sex hormone which is responsible for building muscle, burning fat and sexual prowess. Today almost everyone has lower T levels then they should. It's true the average male today has much lower testosterone than the average male from 50 years ago.

The list below of expert recommendations for raising T levels might be a bit overwhelming, but try to implement just a few of the suggestions and you should feel a big change.

Did you know, for instance, that although some believe testosterone can make you live longer, other research studies show that declining testosterone levels in men is not a foregone conclusion of getting older? Rather, it's poorer general health and the diseases associated with age, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and such, that lower a man's testosterone and puts him at higher risk for another disease of ageing, Alzheimer's disease. Some experts say the fresh air, and friendly, easy-going, open-door lifestyle of people living in the Mediterranean, along with their fresh food diet, is the secret to health in our senior years. While getting into the habit of eating the right foods and exercising in your 70s may stop your brain from shrinking and showing the signs of ageing linked to dementia, experts from Edinburgh University say.

Food secrets for long life?

Clearly ageing is more than a number, but experts say you can achieve your ideal body - however you desire that to look for you. That may mean shedding some unwanted body weight, or simply increasing your physical energy and aligning it powerfully with your spiritual energy so your connection to source and the universe is optimised - thus maintaining synergy and balance with the energies of modern life.

The two misconceptions to getting healthy

Everyone seems to be on the latest fad diet and running down to the biggest, high-tech gym they can find these days. And you want to join the crowd. So, you do. But dieting and living at the gym seems to be taking its toll on you. Why? Well, if you rob your body of vital nutrients and deplete key hormones that are essential to keeping your skin organs and muscles young, firm and functional, then you are doing absolutely the worst thing if you desire spiritual and physical harmony.

If we believe in the sacredness of life, then we must respect its gift, and that as a apart of the living divine, the abuse of our bodies don't fit in with that reality. This doesn't mean go and become a fitness junkie; it means having a fully engaged spirit, an empowered, seeking soul and a physical body that will enable you to carry out your purpose. Experts say that generally there are two major misconceptions we have towards exercise and diet that are costing us physical and spiritual harmony:

  • Misconception 1: Many make the major error of linking a spiritual lifestyle with a sedentary lifestyle - they do not realise the powerful connection between your physical body and spiritual nature. Being spiritual does not mean being anti-physical. You don't need to sacrifice the needs of your body to achieve the needs of your spirit.

    Naturally there are times your physical body needs to be completely still, or perhaps fast or go through a correctly supervised detox programme, or even ease activity for awhile in order to reach a higher spiritual plane or for health, but in the bigger picture these are just moments, not the complete scene.

    In fact, experts say your spiritual energy drives your physical desires, your physical energy allows you to follow with absolute passion your true spiritual path, so that the idea we must put one above the other is a falsity.

  • Misconception 2: The other major mistake many make is engaging in physical extremes out of desperation or disconnection. For example, you reach a point in your life where you are either not happy with your physical body, (i.e., too frail, lacking energy) and out of desperation you dive into an extreme diet, stomach operations, run a marathon, spend 7 days in the gym, or eat nothing but wheat grass for months on end!

    The dangers of binge exercising.

    Your morning meditation is forgotten in favour of running several miles, or you cut a health diet in half so you are nearly starving yourself to leave you with zero energy - and then if you do try to meditate during your connection times you might find yourself dozing off exhausted, feeling as though you are spiritually flat-lining.

    To improve energy levels you can eat better, exercise, even meditate, but sometimes the best way to improve your energy is to simply rest. The extreme mentality can lead to burnout. Go for a stroll, read a book and generally take time out so you can unwind and recharge.

    Plus keep in mind that food is so important, it can even affect the medication you take, while there is even some experts that suggest we should exercise less. Thus too much exercise and radical dieting alters your body's vital hormone pathways, which can lead to rapid ageing, and increased risk of disease.

The way to have abundance in both your spiritual life and physical experience is to discover the balance yourself. What do you eat? How do move your body for maximum energy and flow? And how do you do this, when expert opinions seem to conflict so much? Similar to a fortune teller who can only guide, and not determine your spiritual and physical future, the future of your life is not in the hands of expert opinion, but in your own hands.

Some say a total guesswork approach can let you down, but experimentation through trial and error is the best way to get to know yourself and your own body.

Having your spirituality, body vitality and mind awareness thriving spiritually, emotionally and physically should be a lifelong ambition. Alongside combining the guidance of ancient wisdom, and modern expert advice, the real key in doing this is to discover your true self. What is your ideal connection to source? Meditation? What is your strongest universal vibration? What are your core values? What are your personality traits? And what are your negative aspects too? Are you argumentative, prone to negativity, bossy, need more self-love? For example, do you have an addictive personality? If you do, you might need to stay away from sugary foods and drinks that cause you cravings, but find a way to satiate your sweet tooth in more natural and healthier ways.

Meditation as mind-body medicine.

Even certain times of the day is said to affect us, or different tones of music. Some of us can be tuned to what is known as the day-tone, where you are tuned to the weather determining spheric frequency, as well as to the micro-biological molecular area of proteins. It's thought that being tuned to that sound brings you in many respects into harmony with nature and yourself. Music, which is tuned to this tone has a dynamic character, and has a stimulating and activating effect.

Researchers say that listening to music that personally stimulates you while exercising or doing chores has been found to have an accumulative, beneficial effect on the task being carried out. Moreover, we can mix and match spiritual techniques to tailor-make a regime personal to our individuality. The more healthy lifestyle factors you have, the more beneficial it will be for you. For example, the stimulation of the root chakra (as a meditation technique) with the day-tone is said to give power to the kundalini (a sleeping, dormant potential force in the human organism) and kindles its force. Adherents to this technique claim that the whole body gets energised, and you feel more awake and alive, stronger and more energetic.

It's about your diet and exercise regime being in perfect vibration with your own unique self. What makes you happy? If yoga doesn't make you happy, don't do it. Yoga is not for everybody. Certain foods are not for everybody. You don't need to lock yourself into a harsh regime of self-punishment for food salvation. There is a certain school of thought that says if you don't like eating something, it won't make you healthier, no matter its health benefits, if you think toxic thoughts as it goes down. Thus as with life, we have to consume our food with love.

Are you what you think, rather than what you eat?

There is one school of thought that believes, generally speaking, those who advocate health foods or natural foods subscribe to some of the same overall beliefs held by physicians - that the philosophical ideas that moderate these concepts actually have a part in the "goodness" of the food, recognising the importance of the mind. They also believe the opposite, that when strong suggestions of a very negative character are given, all foods except certain accepted ones are seen as bad for the body, and the cause of diseases.

This leads people to become afraid of the foods they eat, and the field of eating becomes more like an arena in a battle of willpower. Although in a healthy eating system at least the body is not filled with a bewildering assortment of drugs for therapy, proponents say it still may, however, be starved of needed nourishment.

Read how to fuel your brain with food boosters.

They say this is because many fail to factor in the power of the mind when it comes to eating, and that the whole problem of health and illness has become too simplistically applied when food and diet is scrutinised. They believe you are what you think, not what you eat - and that to a large extent what you think about what you eat is far more important. What you think about your body, health, and illness will determine how your food is used, and how your chemistry handles fats, for instance, or carbohydrates.

Your attitudes in preparing meals are highly important. Physically it is true, but again more generally speaking, that your body needs certain nourishments from the food, but adherents to this school of thought believe that within that pattern is great leeway, and the organism has the amazing capacity to make use of substitutes and alternates. Others frown upon this view, as starving yourself is believed to harm you, no matter how "good" you might "think" it is for you, but there are those that believe that our thoughts affect the effectiveness of the food we eat (or don't eat).

Thus, if you believe, however, that the chemicals in certain foods will harm you drastically and bring about disastrous consequences, then even small doses of these is said to do you harm. Any chemical upsets in the body will right themselves after the inner problems have been worked out. The new balance signals the organism that an inner problem has been resolved.

And on the subject of dieting, proponents of this theory believe that such diets are based on the idea that you are overweight because you eat too much. Instead they believe you eat too much because you believe that you are overweight. The physical picture always fits because your belief in being overweight conditions your body to behave in just such a manner.

In the oddest fashion, then, your diets simply reinforce the condition - since you diet because you believe so deeply in your overweight condition. They say, therefore, you must willingly suspend that belief. You must make a conscious effort to insert a different belief into your mind, and employ a form of "natural hypnosis" in this new way of eating.

So, does this mean eating loads of refined sugar makes us happy, and is good for us? The answer given by the experts is clearly a resounding no, because the sugary addiction of refined sugars is a "fake" happiness, a chemically induced craving which has nothing to do with our actual self, but the addiction itself. Therefore you need to detox yourself from such addictions, to be able to ideally tailor yourself to align you with the vibrational essence of the universe and your body. Without balance you can't succeed; whether you take vitamin supplements and eat the right foods, you also need joy and love in what you are doing. You can't force feed yourself into a healthier lifestyle, but you can coax yourself into it one step at a time. Gradual change is long lasting change to an internal and physical balance you've never dreamed possible, with which your body will harmonise with its own high vibration and connection to the universe.

Love is the true balancer in life.

However, although we are told that exercise and a proper diet (one that is "right" for the individual own metabolism and predisposition to foods and fats) is the way to defend against fatty organs and an unhealthy lifestyle, there are so many views on what a "proper diet" is, and so many conflicting scientific studies, that it is not surprising we are not sure what to do, and become confused. For example, in the case of your metabolism, if you have an emotional hunger type you will need more protein than people with other types of metabolisms, which is why you may crave salty foods, as salt is often found in proteins and fats. In this instance your diet should be approximately 50% protein, 30% fats and 20% carbohydrates. But if have a sensory hunger type, then you may crave sweets because your body easily digests and stores carbohydrates. Your diet should be approximately 70% carbs, 20% protein and 10% fats. And if you have a habitual hunger type where you crave both sweet and salty foods because your body has the ability to utilise protein, fats and carbohydrates equally, then your diet should be approximately 33% protein, 33% fats and 33% carbs. It's not easy to know what is best for us.

You know the score if you have tried to research a suitable diet or food regime for yourself: Should we eat a low-carb, high protein diet (eating meat and vegetables and skimping on the pulses and grains)? Or is a macrobiotic diet (eating mainly grains with local vegetables, avoiding highly processed or refined foods and most animal products) better? Or do you prefer to cut out all wheat and dairy with your sugar-free diet? Should we go for the paleo diet (also known as a caveman or scavenger diet of meat, nuts and a few berries), or go vegan and cut out meat and fish altogether? Should we eat more omega-3s fats, and balance the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3? Or should we go the organic route, or maybe even grow our own foods? Should we juice or blend? Some even believe cooking food is dangerous, so how about the raw foodies, or the semi-raw foodies? Should we go for alkaline foods, or just cut out wheat and gluten? Or keep a check of the low GI, high GI content? And whatever happened to just counting the calories? Experiments on mice have shown that eating significantly less food can extend their life spans, so long as the food is highly nutritious. Some people choose to follow a similar path and restrict the number of calories they consume, in the hope of a longer life. Or is it more than just "calories in versus calories burned" - do our hormones also play a major role?

Shield your food with love.

Only then what should we eat? What we should drink? Just water? With our meal, or without? Can we drink tea with food, or should we miss out tea with food? What should we do if green tea gives us heartburn? We have an emotional dependence on hot drinks, and what we drink the out of. Same with food, and the colour and texture of plates we use. And when should we eat? At night, during day (depending on our body clocks)? Should we skip breakfast or not? The nutritionists contradict themselves on that one. And how should we eat? Chew well, sitting down, standing up? Some say, rather than mashing fruit and vegetables into pulp or juice to consume more, eating them in their natural state has an effect on satiety to make you feel fuller for longer. And should we heed the advice about locally grown products? Should we eat only seasonal produce, and ignore out of season produce? Should we eat according to the seasons, and only eat from the soil on which we were born (and are genetically and microbially attached to through our gut)? Should we eat slow cooked food for winter wellness, more raw food in hotter climes? If we are more susceptible to illness during the turn of the seasons, then should we use something like an Ayurvedic diet, and eat for our body type? Or should we choose foods that only promote digestive health?

Is a detox a good thing?

People get confused between the terms "intermittent fasting" and a detox. While intermittent fasting is a way of tricking your metabolism to burn fat (and thus lose weight), detox programmes are generally employed for health purposes, and more specifically digestive health.

Detox programmes are similar to fasting (which is where the confusion arises) in that certain foods are not eaten for a specified period of time. In place mostly juices and water are made available for consumption, as the body detoxifies itself. Although these programmes are popular, especially among dieters, detox programmes also have their fair share of critics.

Critics of detox programmes say such regimes either have little or no benefit on the body, while others go further to claim detoxification in this way may also cause damage to the body, by moving the toxic dump simply to another part of the body, rather than ejecting it as waste (while starving the body of much needed nutrients). Therefore it is recommended that you consult your general practitioner before placing yourself on a detox programme.

Detox your body naturally.

Some adherents of detox programmes suggest that detoxing is good for our body on a cellular level, too, for deep cleansing from the side effects of living in a modern, toxic environment and to pull us back from the brink of a "toxic threshold".

Proponents to this view ask us to imagine a glass (or bucket) filled with too much water, and what happens as it gets too full. There is less room for more water, and if you keep the water running it overflows - and they say that this is the same thing that happens to the trillions of cells inside our bodies.

Based on your diet, the chemicals and toxins you've been exposed to, and whether or not you've got any health challenges, your body's cellular "buckets" could be overflowing with toxic build-up. What are these toxins? Alcohol, sugar, pesticides, unhealthy fats, chemicals found in your make-up, water and air pollution, and more. On a study of rats, scientists have even shown that exposure to environmental pollutants, including pesticides, fungicides, dioxins and hydrocarbons, can cause genetic changes in the womb.

You can look at each of the trillions of cells in your body as buckets, and when these cells reach their "toxic load/limit", they begin to overflow. And that's when symptoms begin to appear. A lack of energy, weight gain, sluggishness, frequent colds, and allergies are just a few examples of what happens when your body is too toxic.

Has detoxing been debunked?

Your body is constantly creating and dealing with cellular junk. It's a by-product of everything from digesting food to having a random thought cross your mind. And it all requires complex chemical processes that leave stuff behind which has to be cleaned up.

To optimise this process of cellular cleansing is one of the reasons, supporters of detox programmes say, that you should do a cleanse every now and again. It's believed we all need a simple and healthy way to clean our cells of the toxins that have built up inside over our lifetime. And if you want to burn more fat (and keep it off) then cleansing is one of most important things you can do, too. They believe that clean cells lead to a clean body, and a clean body doesn't hold onto excess fat.

In the winter season, especially over the Christmas period, lots of people overindulge in rich, fatty and sugary foods and alcohol during festivities. Nutritional therapists say this puts a strain on the liver, which processes the foods we eat, while alcohol and rich food can upset the balance of bacteria in the gut, leaving us feeling bloated and sluggish. They suggest a healthy detox once the holiday season is over will give your body's hard working organs a much needed rest.

A healthy detox is one where you eliminate alcohol, sugar and caffeine from energy and soft drinks, and eat more fruit, vegetables and water. This is believed to work wonders for your well-being. After two to three days, most people are said to have more energy, sleep better and lose a few pounds, too.

While the body has its own in-built system for dealing with toxins - the liver and kidneys - that doesn't mean you can't give them a helping hand, particularly if you've overindulged, leading nutritionist are quick to tell us. The liver is the body's largest internal organ and performs an amazing total of 500 different functions. It produces bile, essential for breaking down fat for absorption and extracting vitamins A, D, E and K; stores energy from food and aids natural immunity by releasing chemicals to fight infection.

When the liver is badly damaged or fails, almost every other organ in the body is affected. While robust enough to carry on even when damaged (the liver can even repair itself) every organ has its limits and the liver is no exception. Nutritionists recommend taking milk thistle, a natural herb to help improve liver function.

Drinking plenty of fluids will help to flush out toxins and keep your kidneys functioning well. For a cleansing detox, professional nutritionists advise that we should aim to drink more than usual - around eight to 10 glasses of water a day.

If you get bored of water you could always try a detox tea. Nettle is known to be a natural cleanser, which helps to remove impurities from the body. If you dehydrate, your body holds on to any water it does get, causing bloating. A natural herbal diuretic or tea containing dandelion leaf may also help.

If you're thinking about a new year detox, a probiotic multivitamin may balance the beneficial bacteria within your digestive system and help eliminate the bloat. Specialists in food and gut microbiology tell us that probiotics can aid the absorption of nutrients from food, help the bowel function regularly and discourage harmful bacteria from becoming dominant in the gut, therefore helping to maintain a healthy digestive system.

Does detoxing defend against a hormone battle?

Some experts tell us that, believe it or not there's a "hormone battle" taking place inside all of our bodies on a daily basis, with claims that long term health studies have concluded men are seeing rapid decreases in testosterone and women are at a much higher risk than ever for breast cancer. Some even claim that young girls are reaching puberty 6-12 months earlier all because it's believed we're being exposed to chronically high levels of hormones through a variety of different pathways that none of us are aware. This toxic environment we live in is said to be thanks to big corporations and agri-businesses pumping us full of these hormones without us probably even knowing it.

The primary culprit is estrogen (a "female" hormone) that occurs naturally in both men and women. But at heightened levels it causes all sorts of health problems, which forces your body to store and hold onto more stubborn belly fat - and pockets of cellulite (even in men). In other words, our modern way of living is forcing bad estrogen levels to rise dramatically and sneak their way into your body whether you like it or not.

For example, pesticides on your foods contain estrogen-mimicking compounds, and many of the plastics we all use on a daily basis actually leaks (also referred to as "leaching") synthetic estrogens into our systems. Other problems cited are cows that are given overdoses of extra estrogen so they can produce at a much faster rate the milk we drink, while cattle are supplemented with estrogen and other unfriendly hormones to prep them for the dinner table at a cheaper price. It's thought that the meat of hormone-treated cows have been found to contain up to 5 times the amount of estrogen as untreated cattle.

Sweeping out dangerous toxins, chemical food additives, environmental pollutants and metabolic wastes can help rejuvenate your body and ease problems such as fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues, bloating, skin rashes, sugar cravings, occasional headaches, seasonal sensitivities and heart concerns. Thus, experts say this is information we should all be aware of, and they tell us there are four steps we can use to minimise the toxicity in our lives, and reduce bad estrogen (and other hidden hormones) that put your health at risk, and stop your body from losing weight.

  1. Buy more organic fruits and vegetables. This can be expensive for some us, but experts suggest we focus on what they call the "filthy fourteen" (the foods most affected by pesticides) which includes: nectarines, celery, apples, lettuce, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, peaches, potatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers. And when you buy "non-organic", to stick to the "clean fifteen" of onions, asparagus, avocados, watermelon, cantaloupe, yams, peas, locally farmed corn, mushrooms, kiwis, squash, eggplant, pineapple, oranges, and cabbage.
  2. Avoid corn-fed beef and all farm raised fish. Buy grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish - or buy from a local farmer or farmer's market. You don't have to be an organic obsessed or spend a lot of money to make this happen. You can get some of the best tasting food in the world (even meats and fish) from local farmer's markets at cheap prices, especially at the end of the day when they're closing up. They need to get rid of all they can, as fast as they can, because they don't want to take it back to the farm or store, so nutritionists suggest doing this.
  3. Do not buy plastics with a recycling symbol with a 3, 6, or 7 listed on it. It's believed these can "leach" plastic particles into your system that can be very estrogenic.
  4. Purify your body of chemical build-up and cleanse your body of estrogen causing toxins using an all-natural "cleanse". Experts differentiate between natural cleanses and supplement pills that sold claiming to help you detoxify your body's digestive system.

    Some of these supplements claim to be superior to natural "detoxes" and colon cleanses, because they say that a majority of natural products only target the intestinal tract, irritating it in order to release toxins. However, as supplements are increasingly becoming recalled due to side-effects, some experts remind us that "quick fixes" don't work, and can be outright dangerous, suggesting we opt for the safer, food-based approach.

    The lure of many of the "cleanse kits" out there is that we all want the ease of the "solution in a bottle" which promises a squeaky clean colon or rapid weight loss after just a few days of ingesting their pills. But these can have side-effects,or long term consequences of using such fabricated potions.

    Other authoritative guides to natural healing say that, more importantly, we should first focus on the liver, as any natural or pill detoxes and colon cleanses will be worthless to you unless the liver if first cleansed. Your liver is your body's most important organ for removing toxins and waste products from your cells that come from modern-day foods, environmental chemicals, stress and your own metabolic wastes. But if your liver isn't totally efficient in clearing toxins from your bloodstream in the first place, thus allowing toxic build-up, then little is accomplished by focusing solely on your intestinal tract.

    Thus although you may use special detox diets, colon cleansing programmes, fasting or liquid cleanses (or some other "miracle cleanse regime") to get toxic waste out of your body with good reason, these experts say that unless you have a clean liver, it will not benefit you. It's believed problems with the liver can affect joint pain, headaches, low energy, or digestive issues that just won't go away no matter what you try, adding to the certainty that you might be polluted inside. Therefore, they suggest that any cleanse we use should also focus on "supercharging" the liver, too.

Ultimately, the teaching of Hippocrates (traditionally regarded as the father of medicine) lays down to "do no harm" and "let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." With general medical practitioners still doing very little when it comes to advising on nutrition, some critics claim that doctors are not really following the Hippocratic oath. But we can use this as guidance in our own lives - especially in the way we look at food in general.

Mickie Kent on Health

Mickie Kent on Health
Love Your Sleep
Shield Yourself with Love
Function with Love
Get Physical with Love

Rather than see food as junk, it is preferable to see its preparation and storage as negative factors on the nutrients stored in the food, and that our bodies need for energy. And after we energise and balance our bodies, we need a state of peaceful, tranquil calm to get us fully connected to ourselves, or the "source" of universal vibration, or whatever you believe in.

Subsequently, it's about creating a personal blueprint for spiritual and physical balance, so that we can bond spiritually with ourself, and in turn, our loved ones - and through them, our world. Thus, it is more than having a great body like a celebrity poster boy or girl, although it only takes a cursory glance at men's magazines to see that eight-packs - or more moderate six-pack - is sold as the most desirable commodity men should have, while women should aim to melt their waist and enhance their breasts.

Eventually, this ideal of a "body beautiful" will become a prison, because it only remains for a brief moment in time, even if ever achieved. The truth is we are all beautiful in our own ways, no matter our body type or skin colour, but unless we are at peace with ourselves, our push towards exercise and food will always be more cosmetic, than therapeutic.

Locking ourselves into a mindset where we feel we cannot change or knock down the physical walls we have been born into is not what this is about, either. That is a restrictive, and some would say lazy, way to look at life. Instead, our justification for change should be for reasons that are right to us, and not because we feel we need to conform to some version of the "body beautiful" on our computer screens. It is time to realise that those people we desire to be are no better or worse than us, so why not desire to be our true selves? Once we understand that, we will never look at life, health, exercise, or food the same way again.

For yourself with love,

Mickie Kent

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