“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Focus on the quality of the soil over the calories
We can all learn a thing or two from Blue zone communities – longevity hotspots around the globe that are home to the healthiest people on the planet.
One thing common to Blue Zones is that those who live there primarily eat a 95% plant-based diet.
Although most groups are not strict vegetarians, vegans or other “-ism’s”, they only tend to eat meat around five times per month. I remember the moment I decided to shift to mostly plant-based eating. I had been dealing with gut issues since I was young, and had no idea that cutting down 1 thing in my diet could have such a profound effect. Within a month, my digestive signals resolved, I felt cleaner & lighter, clearer mentally, more balanced emotionally and a sense of internal harmony.
Here are 3 ways to heal by using food as our foundational medicine.
- To start healing, first, stop the micro-harm
- Understand the Gut Brain Axis
- Eat mostly plants
3 ways to use food as a foundation for healing
1. To start healing, minimise self harm
This simple principle could serve us as a sort of mantra if you will. This can be applied to a majority of lifestyle-related dysfunctions & diseases, helping us to evaluate our food & activity choices to prevent much of the harm to ourselves and our immunity in the first place. Environmental toxins like smoking and drinking alcohol can impair the normal activity of immune cells. Obesity due to consuming fake food or stress is linked to chronic inflammation, and a poor diet that’s lacking in nutrients can impair the production of antibodies. What we consume each day either fights disease and abnormal function or promotes it. It disables natural healing pathways or it enables them. If we make consistently better choices, dietary and lifestyle choices, our human vessels will respond accordingly, in good health, vibrancy and resilience for all future events. Making small habit changes like swapping soda for water, a meaty meal for a plant-based one, and even going for a run instead of watching a movie, are all amazing ways to start making better lifestyle choices.
2. Understand the Gut-Brain Axis
Have you ever experienced digestive issues (stomach aches, cramps, bloating), tiredness, foggy brain, regular illness or even the feeling of being “hangry”? Have you ever been in a stressful situation and felt butterflies in your stomach or felt like you wanted to be sick? That’s because we have a second “brain” in our guts which links emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with intestinal functions. Science has found evidence that people with mental health challenges often have comorbid (more than one) digestive issues. There have also been findings that people who lack the energy to get through the day often have these digestive problems too, and lastly, people who live in stressful environments commonly develop “functional gastrointestinal disorders.” These disorders result in pain, bloating, and another discomfort. Your gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion; anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut! Knowing that our digestive system is our second brain and that it’s closely linked with our mental, emotional and physical health might help support us in making better lifestyle choices each week!
3. Eat mostly plants
Blue zone communities across the globe all share similar principles and eating more plants is one of them. There’s a reason why these communities are hotspots for longevity & why they’re home to the world’s highest population of centenarians (people who reach 100 years of age and more). There are many studies, including one in over half a million people, that show avoiding meat can reduce the risk of death from heart disease, cancer, and a number of other causes. Michael Pollan, a renowned lecturer on food, agriculture, health and the environment, sums it up nicely with seven simple words to live by, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”— the last word being the most important. The benefits of a plant-based diet are immense, and include reduced risk in mortality, reduced blood pressure, a 50% lower risk in developing diabetes, and healthy weight loss.
With all of the diets and food fads out there, it seems as though our society has become a little confused. To understand Food as Medicine, we need to shift the conversation away from nutrition ‘isms’, ideologies, fads, diets, superfoods, restriction based regimes (Ketogenic, Atkins etc) and quick fixes, and tackle the key question:
How can everyone nourish their body every single day, so that their body can regenerate itself naturally?
We can start by integrating more plants into our daily lives. The 80/20 rule is a good place to start for those who don’t want to cut out meat entirely from their diets. Just make sure it’s from a compassionate & good quality source.
Our longevity depends on the strength of our connections and the depth of our social relationships. Imagine what it would feel like to have two people to confide in, be surrounded by five high vibing people who support the lifestyle you are inspired to live and the person you are driven to be. The vibration and abundance of our tribes and the communities we live in will ultimately determine our health, well-being and longevity. We were never meant to survive or thrive alone.
CALL TO EMBODIMENT
- What percentage of your food comes from plants (anything grown)?
- What would you like that percentage to be in the future?
- Set your own standards for healthy moderation? SelfCare/Self Harm (70/30, 80/20, 50/50)
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Rory is the founder of selfcare.global and author of SelfCare – Lifestyle medicine for the people. He has a background in sports science, human movement, exercise physiology, yoga, pilates and a masters degree in physiotherapy. He takes a human, nature and spiritually energetic approach to good health, wellbeing and longevity. Over time he has developed an integrated, holistic and functional tool belt that helps him consult with high performing humans and entrepreneurs. His passion is to merge ancient wisdom with the modern lifestyle. Empowering people on their own journeys, whilst co-creating thriving :blue zone” communities & longevity hot spots.