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Good Health Requires Commitment and Consistency

A proper dietary regimen must combine sleep, exercise, and meditation.

Key points

  • Achieving health goals requires consistency.
  • Supplements must be carefully introduced as an overall, healthy dietary program.
  • A proper dietary regimen must be combined with restorative sleep, daily exercise, and mindful meditation.
 Aris Eko Susanto/Shutterstock
Source: Aris Eko Susanto/Shutterstock

“If you want to feel like a million bucks, then don’t eat off the dollar menu.”

That online quote carries as much truth as it does humor. Eating well-balanced, nutritional meals may not be the cheapest way to go, but it certainly has positive implications for maintaining physical and mental health.

One of the latest dietary studies, appearing in a 2022 issue of Nutrients, reported an association between nutrition, the makeup of bacteria and metabolites in the gut, and the level of a person’s physical and mental energy or fatigue.

Research published in 2020 in the Human Microbiome Journal described the existence of a “microbiome-gut-brain axis” and indicates the health of the microbiome can affect personality. The authors said that a reduced or limited bacterial diversity is linked to stress, anxiety, and even, potentially, psychiatric disorders.

The best example of healthy eating may well be the Mediterranean diet, rated among the leading nutritional plans. The diet is based on consuming vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and other foods typical to Mediterranean regions and the replacement of high-fat meats and condiments like butter with low-fat oils, herbs, fish, and chicken.

Not surprisingly, a study in a 2018 issue of the Journal of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine found that the Mediterranean diet, supplemented with fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids), “can improve mental health in adults suffering from depression.”

Are food supplements beneficial?

The study’s inclusion of fish oil raises another important consideration – the benefits of food supplements. Some experts claim the science is still out on food supplements, saying many popular supplement pills have limited or no proven efficacy, and warning that some substances can be downright dangerous.

A 2019 analysis presented by Johns Hopkins Medicine and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine proposed that consumption of most vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements cannot be linked to protection from heart diseases or to a longer life.

A Tufts University study, also released in 2019, claimed the nutrients found in food and released in the body’s metabolic process – not food supplements – are associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality.

Yet, recent investigations of supplements, including Indian ginseng (Ashwagandha), ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, chaga mushroom, and green tea, suggest otherwise. Such natural substances demonstrate anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anxiety-reducing, and other healing properties. Some of these, investigators said, act as neurotrophic/nootropic agents – brain boosters – refreshing the wiring of the brain by promoting the growth of new neurons, which play a role in cognitive function, long-term memory, and spatial memory.

What Studies Show

A study published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, for example, reported that ashwagandha root, from an evergreen shrub grown in India, areas of Nepal, and China, improves stamina, reduces stress, enhances cognition, fights neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, produces anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects, and is effective against certain cancers.

A 2020 review of the root in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology indicated Ashwagandha has “extensive potential as [a] neuroprotective in various brain disorders.”

The authors of an article in The Journal of Pain reported that daily consumption of ginger might reduce muscle aches by up to 25 percent.

In a 2018 issue of the International Journal of Endocrinology, scientists reported magnesium has a “preventive role in alleviating the burden of disease.” They cited magnesium’s regulation of a “number of fundamental functions such as muscle contraction, neuromuscular conduction, glycemic control, myocardial contraction, and blood pressure” and indicated the element’s “vital role in energy production, active transmembrane transport for other ions, synthesis of nuclear materials, and bone development.”

Meanwhile, science noted black pepper improves gastrointestinal function – the gut microbiome – and suggests cinnamon has “antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer, lipid-lowering, and cardiovascular-disease-lowering” properties. Also cited is cinnamon’s potential effectiveness in the treatment of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.

Everything With Caution

Certainly, one can have too much of a good thing, which is why supplements must be carefully introduced as part of an overall, healthy dietary program that is carefully constructed with the support of physicians, nutritionists, and other health professionals. As indicated by the federal Food and Drug Administration, over-consumption of supplements, a combination of supplements with certain prescription medicines, or the use of supplements in place of medications can prove risky – and even injurious.

In addition to Ashwagandha root, cinnamon, and black pepper, and ginger, includes background on lion’s mane mushroom, Reishi mushroom, chaga mushroom, raw organic cacao, spirulina, maca root, turmeric, moringa (from an herbal plant), Japanese matcha green tea, cloves, cardamom (for hypertension), nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. These substances are available in blended powder form, with specific instructions on its use.

Lifestyle More Than Nutrition

Of course, nutrition alone does not comprise a healthy lifestyle. As indicated in my previous blog, a proper dietary regimen must be combined with restorative sleep, daily exercise, and mindful meditation. Together, these components can limit stress, lower blood pressure, control the inflammatory processes that underly disease, support autonomic physiological functions like circadian rhythm and the limbic and cardiovascular systems, and enhance mental health. At the same time, habits that negatively affect health, such as smoking, over-consumption of alcohol, and use of recreational drugs, must be eliminated.

To achieve health goals requires consistency. Eating nutritiously a couple times a week, getting seven or eight hours a sleep only on the weekends, and jogging for an hour on Saturday mornings will not cut it. A healthy lifestyle requires commitment and adherence, being methodical, much like the diligence needed when taking a prescribed medication.

Also highly recommended is journaling. To effectively chart progress, you must know where you have come from and where you are going. Take notes. Track your energy, fatigue, mood, sleep, and stress levels on a week-to-week and month-to-month basis.

Finally, know good health does not come cheaply. Stay away from the junk-food-dollar menus. In the words of Ann Wigmore, who developed the Living Foods Lifestyle® and opened the Natural Health Institute, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”

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