Why do so many of us go on diets and do exercise purely as a means to lose weight, get a bikini body or fit into that little black dress by Saturday night? This is where I see so many women on the never-ending dieting roller coaster. If you're trying to get fit and healthy for the wrong reasons, then it simply will not happen.
It might surprise you to know that a lean, healthy body accompanied by beautiful skin, hair and nails goes a lot deeper than relentlessly digging into your pockets!
Taking control of the following health-related symptoms on an on-going basis will dramatically improve your health and the aesthetics will always follow.
Inflammation, Dehydration, Estrogen Dominance, Acidity. (I.D.E.A)
An understanding of your health and what lies beneath and healing these areas is the only way forward. You will start to recognise changes in your health in different areas. Your skin will look better, your eyes will be clearer and most certainly your energy will improve. This will motivate you to want to continue eating a healthy diet and exercising for the right reasons and not just to 'be thin.'
Eventually you will become tuned into your new-found health and naturally become an intuitive eater. Your mind will be focused and your body will crave exercise/movement. How cool is that? When you do go off track (and it's perfectly fine to do so from time to time) you will feel the negative after-effects and want to get back to normal.
INFLAMMATION: Inflammation is a vital part of the body's immune response. It is the body's attempt to heal itself after an injury; defend itself against viruses and bacteria and repair damaged tissue. Inflammation is often diagnosed by redness, swelling, warmth and sometimes pain.
There are two types of inflammation; acute and chronic. Acute arises after a cut/scrape in the skin, a toothache or an infected ingrown nail, a sore throat or sprained ankle. Chronic inflammation is long-term and occurs through "wear and tear" conditions, including osteoarthritis, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and crohn's disease. Chronic inflammation has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung issues, bone health, depression and cancer.
Environmental and bad habits, such as excess weight, poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, pollution and excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to chronic inflammation.
There is abundant evidence that foods and lifestyle strategies can help lower inflammation. Foods to greatly reduce inflammation include; ginger, nuts, fatty fish, flaxseeds, ginger root extract, curcumin (the main compound in turmeric). Follow a well balanced diet that has plenty of fresh produce and plant-based foods. Stay away from the obvious foods that promote inflammation such as processed, packaged and sugary foods.
DEHYDRATION: Water is the most important nutrient on the planet Dehydration affects millions of people and yet it is the most common preventable medical condition in the world!
Thirst means you are dehydrated. Dehydration triggers the body's thirst mechanism, so when you feel thirsty - dehydration has already set in - NOT GOOD!
Besides causing major ageing especially on your skin, let's take a look at what else is affected by not drinking enough AQUA.
Dehydration causes foggy memory and mood swings. Even mild dehydration has been shown to put stress on cognitive functioning, affecting concentration and short-term memory, as well as anxiety and irritability. Dehydration is one of the most common risk factors for kidney stones. Water activates deep cleansing of the blood via the kidneys. And if that's not enough, dehydration is said to be the number one cause of fatigue!
Drink at least 1 1/2 litres of water a day and more on exercise days. A recent survey found that even that amount can be offset by drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol and eating a diet high in sodium. Therefore be mindful of caffeine and alcohol intake. A good indicator of whether or not you're drinking enough water is to check the colour of your urine regularly. It should be pale in colour; except after taking the B vitamin (Riboflavin) or first thing in the morning when your urine tends to be darker.
ESTROGEN DOMINANC: This is a subject that captured my attention some years back, leading me to research it (almost) more than anything I have ever researched. It describes what many of us are more than likely suffering from and is a condition in which a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive levels of estrogen, but too little progesterone to balance the estrogen levels. It is the balance (ratio) of the two that matters more than how much we have.
It is quite a complicated subject and although not my area of expertise I am fully aware of it and have witnessed how to keep the dreaded ED symptoms at bay through a healthy eating and exercise regime. For further reading on this subject I would highly recommend you read "The Anti-Estrogenic Diet" by Ori Hofmekler.
Environmental toxins, rampant stress, nutritional deficiencies, and the estrogens leaching into our food supply chain are all to blame for ED. We would literally have to live on an organically grown farm up in the hills somewhere in a bubble to avoid these excess estrogens we are exposed to through pesticides, plastic, industrial waste products, car exhaust fumes, meat, beauty products, and much of the indoor furnishings we live with every day.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms associated with Estrogen Dominanc:
Accelerated aging, allergies, breast cancer, tender breasts, copper excess, low libido, depression and anxiety, uterine cancer, cellulite, and fat gain (especially around the hips, thighs and tummy), fatigue, foggy brain, hair loss (especially around the crown), headaches, low blood sugar, and cravings for sugar, increased blood clotting, infertility, irregular periods, insomnia, memory loss, mood swings, osteoporosis, PMS, water retention and bloating, magnesium and zinc deficiency, thyroid dysfunction, sluggish metabolism.
Your best line of defence in keeping Estrogen Dominance in check is to;
- Avoid processed foods or foods rich in sugar, because they are devoid of fibre. Fibre from natural foods moves estrogen out of the body. Boost your intake of whole grains, plant-based proteins, good fats, colourful fruits, vegetables and green tea. This alone will make a huge difference. Without enough dietary fibre, estrogen builds up and increases the hormonal burden on your system.
- Having more than two cups of coffee per day increases estrogen.
- Alcohol impedes the liver's ability to metabolise estrogen. When the liver fails to break down estrogen, it stays in the body and makes your fat!
- Herbs that strengthen the liver will speed up estrogen clearance from the body. Take the herb Silybum Marianum 70 - 200mg (1-3x day). Milk thistle is also great for your liver.
- Maintain your ideal body weight - fat cells increase estrogen production. Exercise is a key ingredient here.
- Eat organic and hormone free wherever possible. Estrogen compounds are fed to chickens and cattle to increase meat, egg and dairy production, which then gets passed on to us when we consume them.
- Water - drink at least two litres per day, it helps to cleans your liver and kidneys, allowing your body to excrete hormones efficiently.
- Keep stress in check. Stress raises cortisol and estrogen and decreases testosterone.
ACIDITY - the pH balance of the body is fundamental to our health. We function optimally when the pH is correct. It comes down to simple chemistry - the "food" we eat, the fluid we drink - our lifestyle choices.
Early signs and symptoms of being on the acidic side are; general fatigue, painful joints, low immunity, poor skin, hair and nail quality.
The most common cause of acid load is a lack of water which activates deep cleansing of the blood via the kidneys. The top five acidic substances in the modern diet are the ones we generally tend to love the most and are easily addictive; sugar, coffee, alcohol, carbonated drinks and refined flour based products. Thereafter it's large quantities of animal protein and dairy products. Nicotine and stress are other major contributors to an acidic state.
So the correct way to get this balance back and alkalanize yourself is to increase your vegetable and fruit intake and decrease the above acid-forming foods. I recommend a healthy balance of 2 fruit and 10 vegetable servings a day. The dark green leafy vegetables are particularly important to get every day. A serving is roughly 1/2 cup so you are aiming for between 4 and 5 cups a day, preferably raw, juiced or steamed.
Besides cleaning out your bathroom cabinet and stocking up your kitchen with everything good, clean and fresh, get some regular exercise too,which will minimise the effects of all the above factors.
I.D.E.A. - four profound areas of your health which you are able to manipulate through your lifestyle choices.