My Wellness Philosophy
A common theme runs through my beliefs about health and wellness – I believe it should be simple. Living and eating for optimal health is not complicated.
By getting back to the basics, we can walk in the original design God intended, which is a life of flourishing and freedom. This is the framework of my wellness philosophy. As more high-quality research is done about our bodies and food, the more science directly points us to the truths found in God’s Word because, well He created it! Whether looking at each system of the body and how they are connected, or exciting new research on the microbiome, epigenetics, nutrigenomics, phytochemicals and beyond, it is through the lense of Biblical truth that I look at and translate fascinating and complex information into application on how we should live.
Overall, I see the many layers. First, each system of our body is connected. The environmental factors that influence how our bodies function are multifaceted. Food, exercise & movement, stress management, sleep, and relationships interplay with our genetics to create our overall well-being. Second, every part of our being is tied together – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Third, the big picture is that the impact each of us has is far greater than just ourselves. While each of us is an individual, these factors connect us all on a much larger scale than we often realize.
My food philosophy can be summed up in this:
eat the foods God created, the way or as close to the way as He created them.
To begin to unpack the details of my philosophy, let’s first talk food. This wonderful necessity of life has the amazing ability to connect us instantaneously. Throughout my journey, I have become more and more certain that the best form of medicine is food, and the best food as medicine is daily consumption of a variety and abundance of tastes, colors, and textures of plants. Food is foundational because it is information for our bodies- for our very cells and DNA!
There is a lot of confusion around what “healthy” food is. I have definitely been there in my journey, trying to figure out how to be “healthy” amidst all the different claims. Within the scope of about five years I tried no-fat, no-carb, high-fat/keto-ish, paleo, high-meat, and even weighed every ounce of food I put in my body for a time. It was complicated to say the least. Through all of that though, I discovered that it’s best to simply get back to the basics. Food should not be complicated.
It’s not about dieting or counting calories. It’s about food. Whole food. Organic, non-GMO plant foods, because plants ARE superfoods. It’s seasonal and just picked fruits and vegetables that give our bodies more than science even realizes and enables us to thrive. The benefits of food come from more than one single nutrient – a vitamin, mineral, or even protein. It’s more than the vitamin C, it’s the strawberry; not the beta-carotene, but the carrot.
Beyond protein, fat, and carbohydrates, an entire symphony of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber are working together, building on one another to create optimal health in our microbiome and cells, which translates to the rest of the body. By eating the rainbow, which represents an astounding array of benefits, our bodies have the opportunity to heal and function optimally as God created them to.
God created our bodies in such a way that if we give it the food that God created for it, it knows what to do.
Although food is central to eating and our health, it is not the only factor. Our mindset, environment, sleep patterns, hormones, etc. all influence what our body does with the food. While I’m not perfect, I believe in practicing the Okinawan mindset of hara hatchi bu (eating to 80% full) and mindful eating, which are two concepts beyond the food itself but influence our eating.
Further, everyone is unique, with their own genes, microbiome, history, etc., and when it comes to food there are definite overarching recommendations, but it’s also important to view nutrition with an individualized approach.
However, my hope is that you see just how whole, organic plant foods grown in nutrient-rich soil are powerful superfoods, and that our eating choices have a dramatic impact on our overall wellness.
THE REST OF LIFESTYLE
The further we get from living as God originally designed,
the further we get from functioning as He created us to.
Food isn’t the only factor that establishes wellness. Our entire lifestyle determines wellness on an individual and collective basis. This includes exercise, stress, sleep, toxins, relationships, food and more. It’s the chemicals in the lotion/shampoo/deodorant/makeup we put on our body; the plastics that are pervasive in our lives; the mattress we spend half our lives sleeping on; the cleaning supplies we use. Just like with food, the answer to thriving lies in returning to the basics.
With my own health experiences as precedence, I understand how the microbiome is so foundational to our overall well-being. Inflammation is the root-cause of illness, and the microbiome is such a critical factor in inflammation. But what dictates and supports the health of our gut? These very elements of our lifestyle.
When we recognize that the majority of chronic illness and disease (cardiovascular disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s, depression and anxiety, IBD and IBS, autism, fibromyalgia, and even cancer) are lifestyle related, there is a paradigm shift and we are empowered to make intentional decisions that support life and flourishing. The disease state is a signal that the order of the body in which God intended is not being supported. It is merely a symptom, a manifestation of disorder due to man neglecting God’s original design. In most cases, when we give the body the right tools to function as He created it to, it will.
The choices we make about what we put in, on, and around our bodies
are deeply connected to our own well-being.
While often times we may be focused on lifestyle and physical health, it is important to recognize that our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health are interwoven. To give you an example let’s revisit the microbiome. As we begin to understand the intricacies of the microbiome, we have come to realize just how profoundly our gut health connects with our brain health. Our gut and brain are in direct communication through the vagus nerve. In fact, the good bacteria that comprise a healthy microbiome actually create majority of the neurotransmitters that our brains utilize! You may have heard of serotonin, the “feel good hormone.” When we realize that ~90% of serotonin is made by the good bacteria in your gut, you may begin to connect that reality that if our gut health is poor (remember, much of which is determined by lifestyle) then the health of our brain and mind is actually connected to our bodies and lifestyle choices.
Yes, even our spiritual health is affected. As I reflect on my story, I personally have discovered that we cannot thrive spiritually when we are not thriving physically. We will not be able to fully carry out all that God has in store for us or partner in His mission. As a Christian, the profound reality is that caring for myself physically is a part of honoring God and bringing glory to Him.
Beyond our own well-being, we often limit our choices to just ourselves or maybe our family’s at most. However, lifestyle choices impact not just ourselves, but others and His world. Wellness is about getting outside of the me-centered mentality that is pervasive in our culture. It is about each of us making intentional decisions that lead to a sustainable lifestyle which supports life and flourishing of the entire world. We don’t live in a bubble where our choices impact our lives only, so part of wellness is being mindful of where the food and products we buy comes from and the effect it has on others and the planet.
Everything is connected.
To honor and glorify God with everything that I am and everything I do,
including how I eat and take care of my body.
Therefore, we must be intentional with the decisions we make, considering how our purchases and choices will impact not only our bodies but also recognizing that their reach is far greater than ourselves.
Personally, I’m the type of person that lives my life with the mentality that if I’m going to do something better, I may as well do it best. The way I eat and live is no different because ultimately I want to honor God with everything I am and do. I always want to strive for optimal health, to get the most out of my food and the most out of the money I spend – to support the thriving of my entire being and the entire world, because every choice matters.
I recognize that this may initially be overwhelming, but may I remind you of the statement I opened my philosophy with. It is simple. As you may have realized through this, that which will support life to your body physically, is the same that supports life in your overall being and beyond yourself. That which supports life is God’s original design.
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