March is National Nutrition Month, and we are partnering with Eric from Pressed Vibrance to bring you some insight on the importance of nutrition for EVERYTHING in life. Eric's passion for and knowledge of nutrition and wellness is undeniable (read his full story here), so when he offered to guest blog for us, we could barely hold it together. Today, he discusses the role that nutrition plays in our lives and how it's SO MUCH MORE important people think. Eric, take it away...
Let's first define what nutrition is.
Nutrition: "The process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth."
But I'd like to take it a step further and expand on a few other key elements that I believe should be considered “nutrients” and are vital for a balanced ultra-wellness lifestyle.
See, it's not just about the food we eat - or even the quality of the food we eat. Certainly, it’s deeply vital that we consume real, whole foods (mostly plants, in my slightly biased opinion) to gain the essential nutrients that come from food. But it's also important to look at your overall lifestyle and the other "nutrients" that play just as important a role as the foods we eat. So again, the definition of nutrition: what we need for health and growth!
In addition to food, I'll add in four additional touch-points in our every day lives that are essential to maintaining optimal nutrition - sleep, movement, mindfulness, and breath work. To me, these are as important as the nutritional benefits that food provides. And get this! When we eat clean, real, whole foods (again, mostly plants), all of these other important elements work really well together. Synergistically, these form a super anti-inflammatory foundation that can elevate your life!
Sleep – Sleep well...
Sleep is critical for our brains, metabolism, recovery, energy, our overall well-being, and so much more! When we sleep well, we are even preventing some of the leading causes of death. Research supports this and has found that sleeping soundly for 6-8 hours per night is ideal. To tie it all together, the types of foods one consumes directly correlates to the quality of sleep one gets each night. Sleep Nutritional Tip: Drink warm water 45 minutes before bed, and consume magnesium rich foods. Goji berries have been shown to be a great sleep aid.
Movement – Move often...
I’m a big fan of movement. We now know that sitting for long periods of time during the day can be detrimental to one's life. Lack of movement can lead to a whole list of problems such as weight issues, metabolic syndrome, higher blood pressure, and blood sugar imbalances (just to name a few.) And the best part is, finding ways to move is actually easy! Movement can come in the form of exercise, walking, dancing - pretty much just moving the body parts we have. Movement Nutritional Tip: Hydrate well, consume complex carbohydrates from vegetables such as beans, lentils and magnesium rich foods, and consume beets, chia seeds, and hemp seeds to enhance recovery.
Mindfulness – Be mindful...
Mindfulness is in my opinion one of the most important nutrients, but it is so often overlooked.
Mindfulness teaches us to be present in anything we’re doing - whether it is working, speaking with others, eating, expressing ourselves, etc. Without mindfulness, we’ve seen that we’re less attentive to what we do, say, hear, and think. The simple act of being mindful has shown to be an inflammation killer, stress reducing, and anxiety-reducing tool. Mindfulness Nutritional Tip: When it comes to food and what to eat – challenge yourself in planning the next 2 or 3 days worth of meals, and make them all plant based! Mindful eating can lead to some really great wins!!
Breathe – Deeply and often...
Breathing - we all have do it, but is there intention behind it? When we practice the art of breathing - whether it is during meditation, training for a big race, calming nerves during times of stress, or simply just getting us through our day - it is essential to properly breathe. I’m not just talking about breathing in and out, as we do a billion times per day. Rather, I'd like to emphasize the importance of deep and conscious breathing. Research has found this to be one of the most important tools to prevent stress and anxiety. As you may know, stress is one of the main causes of inflammation that triggers sickness and disease and (truth be told) is a leading cause of death.
Breathing (something we all can do) is an effective anti-inflammatory tool! Breathing Nutritional Tip: Practice Bellows Breath (here's a guide if you're interested) for energy and increased alertness. For more stressful situations, practice the 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise. I've greatly improved my health and well-being by using both of theses types of breath work techniques.
As we all know, nutritional intake is essential - from food, to movement, to sleep, to breath work - we need to ensure we are getting all of the nutrients we possibly can. Certainly, there are other methods of getting essential nutrients - i.e. simply doing what you love, listening to music, learning new things, etc. It’s important to look at all of the touch points in your day. As you can see, proper nutrition becomes more about lifestyle than just about eating a clean or a well-balanced diet.
Balance is hard to achieve; it’s something we all have to practice daily. We all will fail, but the success comes from sticking to it, trying new things, and keeping in mind that nutrition is fuel, nutrition is energy, and nutrition is information. Use these additional nutritional tools to support your day and ultimately to support your life.