Holistic nutrition: the basics
Holistic nutrition is a naturally focused approach to improving a person's overall health by considering several factors in their lifestyle. Using techniques which are largely evidence based, holistic nutrition looks to improve a person's diet and lifestyle and perform detoxification to improve overall health.
Holistic nutrition is personalised to each individual, taking into account a whole range of factors within their lives, instead of focusing on one key aspect or adopting a more 'one size fits all' approach. The entire history of a person's health, emotional state, dietary habits and current and past lifestyle habits are all taken into account, in order to be able to find the root causes of a person's potential health issues and work towards implementing changes to improve those health issues.
There are several issues that holistic nutritionists are believed to be able to help with, including skin conditions, such as acne, general moodiness and unhappiness, allergies, fatigue and sleep problems, such as insomnia, weight loss, hormonal imbalances and even the prevention of diseases, such as arthritis and cancer.
Once the underlying issues have been identified and the health problem is known, the holistic nutritionist can then work with the person to educate them in how best to implement nutritional and lifestyle changes that will improve their condition or mood.
Significance of food
As Hippocrates once said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food", a powerful principle stating that not only is food the fuel we need, but that it can also be a natural medicine for our bodies, a principle deeply embedded in the main principles of holistic nutrition.
The food we consume provides the nutrients and energy that our bodies need in order to function. Food is what allows us to grow and heal muscle, tissue and bone and regenerate our blood. This makes the specific nutrients that we consume incredibly important in the development and upkeep of our whole bodies - the essential processes constantly occurring within us need to be fuelled accordingly.
There are three main components of nutrients in holistic nutrition: macronutrients, micronutrients and fibre. Macronutrients include fats, proteins and carbohydrates, while micronutrients include minerals and vitamins that can be naturally found within food. Fibre is an essential nutrient involved in healthy bowel processes. Holistic nutritionists state that all three components are vital in maintaining the natural functions within the body and should all be part of a natural, balanced diet.
According to some sources, holistic practitioners widely agree that following a strict and proper diet under the guidance of a holistic nutritionist should be able to allow the body to heal naturally, without needing to use prescription or over the counter medicines.
By instilling a proper balance of all the required nutrients (including vitamins, proteins and minerals) within the diet, it is believed that the holistic nutrition approach can be used to reach optimum levels of energy and health, allowing the person to better fight infections and enjoy an improved state of emotional well-being, while helping to prevent or diminish certain diseases or disorders.
Holistic nutrition: 10 principles for healthier eating
It's believed by many holistic nutritionists that the most important principle of holistic nutrition is to eat natural foods. Natural foods are whole, organic and unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, unprocessed meats, whole grain rice and flour products. Holistic nutrition can be drilled down into 10 key principles, each one giving you a healthier and more balanced diet.
1. Eat raw, whole food
This is the simplest advice from holistic nutritionists and it really is incredibly easy to follow. When eating healthy fruit or vegetable snacks, like banana, melon, strawberry, carrot or celery, do so in their natural forms - raw, unprocessed and without anything added to them.
2. Eat organic
Selecting organic options when it comes to the weekly or monthly food shop helps you to avoid pesticides, hormones and other things that are added to produce and meats. Organic food is left untreated, making it the healthier and more nutritious choice.
3. No more sweet tooth
As tempting as it may be, replacing sugar with sweeteners isn't actually that good for your health. The much-preferred option is to use naturally sweet alternatives, such as fruit and honey, rather than sugar or artificial sweeteners.
4. Drink water
Holistic nutritionists recommend drinking eight glasses of water each day, in order to promote healthy digestion and overall good health. It's also recommended that you cut out caffeinated beverages, alcohol and fizzy drinks - or at least drastically reduce your intake of them.
5. Reduce sodium
The recommended consumption per day for sodium is between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams, depending on an individual's weight, age and any underlying health conditions, but most people ingest significantly more than this. Sodium can be a key factor in the development of high blood pressure, and too much salt is believed to be a contributing factor to heart conditions.
6. Buy local
Buying local produce can often be a more nutritious option, as it's not shipped over long distances, giving it better quality and increased freshness. Even better than buying local produce is growing some of your own; things like potatoes can be easily grown yourself and you'll always know exactly how fresh they are.
7. Whole grain
While most holistic nutritionists recommend that wheat is entirely eliminated from the diet, it might not be the ideal option for some people. For those who can't or don't want to eliminate wheat altogether, whole grains should be purchased when buying cereals, flour, rice and pasta, as white flour is often almost completely stripped of its fibre and other nutritional benefits.
8. Eat good fats
Eating healthy fats is an important part of a balanced diet. Oils like extra virgin olive oil and flax seed oil should be used in cooking and meal preparation, and coconut oils or canola should be used for high-heat cooking, as they can withstand the high temperatures without losing their nutritional value. Trans fats and hydrogenated oils should be avoided, as should the saturated animal fats you find in dairy and red meat.
9. Portion sizes
Ensuring you regulate your portion sizes accordingly doesn't just apply to unhealthy foods - it applies to all food, including healthy meals. Overeating, even of healthy meals, can restrict weight-loss and cause other issues. It's always important to remain mindful of the appropriate portion sizes that your body needs.
You've heard it before, but a healthy diet isn't all about deprivation and suffering at the hands of a meal plan that doesn't include any treats. Indulging yourself every now and again, whether it be with a meal that isn't all that healthy or a biscuit or two, doesn't do any harm, as long as it's done in moderation.
The benefits of holistic nutrition
The main benefits are the improvement of your health, well-being and emotional state through the use of lifestyle and diet changes. It's so simple to implement, and can make a huge difference to your life, so why not get started today?