In holistic nutrition we use an integrative approach to wellness. We don’t only look at what foods that one eats, we also look at other environmental, social and emotional factors that could be influencing imbalance or dis-ease. Holistic nutrition is all about looking at the body as a whole, taking all aspects of being into consideration, which include the physical, emotional, social and spiritual elements of a person’s life.
The reason why we are interested in the body as a whole in our practice as holistic nutritionists is because we know that all systems in our body are interconnected, and if one part is not in harmony, other areas of our body will be affected.
In other words, in this field we are interested in the mind-body-spirit connection and how our thoughts and emotions can influence physical bodily imbalances. We are aware about how all the systems in the body work together.
For example, if we live under constant stress, our body overproduces cortisol, which is a steroid hormone that helps us respond to stress and performs other important functions in the body. Overproduction of cortisol can lead to imbalances in other systems, such as blood sugar imbalance, weight gain, immune system suppression and gastrointestinal problems.
The good news is that through a holistic approach, we can help manage and increase the body’s ability to cope with stress in order to mitigate all those effects.
Nutrition – Works on the physical level
As nutritionists we use our knowledge about food sources, healing herbs and supplementation for optimal health, preventative health and to support healing processes of the body.
As mentioned in my example above, constant stress leads to immune system suppression. Through appropriate nutrition and supplementation we can support our bodies capability to manage stress and boost immune function.
Some foods that are support our ability to cope with stress are red bell peppers and broccoli, as they are rich in vitamin C. Red bell peppers actually have twice as much vitamin C than oranges.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, it helps reduce inflammation produced by stress response, boosts immune function and helps lower cortisol and helps us cope with stress.
Nuts and seeds are a great source of B-vitamins, which get depleted with stress. Studies suggest that dietary supplementation with B vitamins is an effective solution to combat occupational stress.
Incorporating adaptogens into our diet and routine is also a great way to manage stress. Adaptogens are healing herbs that help the body adapt to stress and balance cortisol levels. One of my favourite adaptogenic herbs is ashwaghandha, which helps lower blood sugar levels, reduce cortisol, boosts brain function and helps soothe feelings of anxiety.
Emotional Aspect of Holistic Nutrition
As mentioned, in holistic nutrition we also look at the emotional factors that influence a person’s life. We can share strategies to be able to cope with stress on an emotional level such mindfulness practices and lifestyle changes.
This may be a foreign concept for some, but it is said that the disease first manifests in the emotional body and then materializes in the physical. This means that when emotionally triggering events happen in our lives, and we don’t heal or resolve them, they can have a potential to give rise to physical disease (dis-ease, meaning that the body is out of ease).
Some holistic nutritionists may have additional designations to help coach you through this emotional aspect, beyond suggesting lifestyle recommendations. Such designations can include holistic counseling, somatic therapy, reiki, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and more. Alternatively, they can refer you to a professional who can help you in these areas.
These are just two aspects of holistic health that we look at as nutritionists, which contribute to overall health and well-being. In my following post you can read about how community and environmental factors affect our health and ways in which you can optimize these two areas of your life.