Lifestyle Foundations That Build Resilience
Forget the 'quick fix' main stream ideals targeted to our desire to happiness in an instant. In the natural health world, let's just call it the real world, results and goals are more sustainable when a realistic and multi-faceted approach is used. Revolutionary, I know.
So whether your own goal is to improve your body composition, sleep better or reduce any digestive issues, it is possible to improve all three areas of health at the same time with a strategic approach. Here's some information to help you bring your health goals together with a plan.
The four foundations for resilient health
It's not rocket science. We all need stress reduction, nutrition, exercise and some level of supplementation to thrive. This does not mean one needs to go to a gym every day and make a 20 oz smoothie after each session that they drink while sitting in a sanctuary in a full lotus yoga position! There is an expression in exercise physiology that can be applied to most things pertaining to health – “Reps Over Time”. What this means is that consistency is the key. One example of this would be if you do 300 reps of push ups spread over one month (maybe 3 sessions per week where you do 25 push ups per session) that would be superior to just doing 1 session per week where you do 75 push ups. The option of 3 days @ 25 pushups per session is much more manageable mentally and will support other bodily functions – like insulin sensitivity and nutrient uptake – both of which are important for overall health.
Improving insulin sensitivity, while also increasing nutrient uptake and nutrient partitioning, will allow your body to learn to better use macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) and micronutrients which in turn equates to improved physical and mental health, as well as improved feelings of well being.
Stress reduction in every day moments
How one person goes about reducing stress can be very different from how another person reduces their stress. Meditation, walks in nature, preparing food for family and loved ones, vigorous exercise, taking a break from social media, a yoga class or just sitting and talking with friends over tea are just some of the ways people de-stress. But whatever method one uses, it is important to try to shift your body into a parasympathetic state so the body can prioritize physical healing and mental health. Are you really relaxing when you're relaxing is the question we need to ask.
Adam hiking in Strathcona Park at ~6000 ft elevation.
Use your supplements wisely
Using high quality, natural supplements to help address ones health concerns continues to become a more popular practice by ever growing numbers of people. As many people are looking to be more proactive with their health and prevent disease instead of treating it after it hits. We also know that soil health is declining and much of our food is less nutritious than it once was. When thinking about supplements that support the four foundations there are some standouts.
Protein. Protein is necessary for optimal human function, yet how much each individual needs can vary greatly from one person to the next. A fit 25 year old training and competing in sport will need more protein than a much less active 65 year old. Most nutrition experts will agree that safe protein intake ranges are between 0.5 and 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight REF. And it is well understood that seniors should prioritize protein in order to help preserve as much muscle mass as possible – with the goal being to protect the body from falls or other injury which can result in long, and possibly challenging, recovery periods. Protein powders are one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to increase protein intake. There are many options out there, but quality should be prioritized wherever possible. PURICA – a local company from the Cowichan Valley that has been in operation since 1999 – has a product called Power Vegan Protein, and it combines 2 high quality vegan protein sources – Fermented A-Grade Pea Protein Isolate and Organic Sprouted Brown Rice Protein (both are tested for heavy metals and other contaminants) to provide a good protein quality score. It also contains 800-1480 mg of full-spectrum, micronized, organic medicinal mushrooms per serving, plus a powerful digestive enzyme and it uses monk fruit extract as the sweetener. Many people find that this formula of quality ingredients makes for a smooth and delicious taste and minimal or no GI distress or bloating.
Digestive Support. Optimal digestive health can be elusive for many people, but there's hope. Specific modifications in diet combined with proper supplementation can work wonders. Anyone suffering from IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) knows all too well the distress of irregular digestive function. A clinically supported supplement by PURICA is the Intensive GI Probiotic. What makes this product different is that the clinical trials were done on the exact formula that is in the product and not just 1 or 2 of the multiple (up to 18 sometimes) strains that are often contained in probiotic formulas. This means that every microscopic bit of good bacteria is working for you to combat your IBS. And one of the best things about probiotics is how fast they can work for some! There may be some trial and error depending on what your concerns are, but if it is for straightforward IBS then PURICA'S Intensive GI Probiotic is a reliable place to start.
Good Sleep - we all need it, but it can be hard to catch the good z's. Before considering a supplement, one would be wise to take other (might I add 'free') steps to improve their sleep quality. Some known ways to help prepare your body for a good nights rest are, though not limited to:
- avoiding blue light from devices 1-2 hours before bed or utilizing blue light blocking glasses if screen use will happen within 2 hours of bedtime
- exposing the body to the natural elements (sunshine!) throughout the day when possible
- exercising regularly, and timing this so that it doesn't rev you up before bedtime
- practices such as meditation or just belly breathing to calm the mind and body
- maintaining good sleep hygiene with a cool sleeping environment and noise reduction
- pre-bedtime snacks, to help promote sleep hormone production, such as some easily digestible carbohydrates (ie tea with honey or local grassfed yogurt) in the hour or two before bed
If you're doing all of this and still having trouble sleeping then supplements that help with sleep may be helpful. Just remember supporting the entire sleep cycle (preparing for sleep, staying asleep and sleeping well) is something that often requires a combination of ingredients to achieve. A new product from PURICA called Sleep Support may be worth a try if you are looking for a formula that acts on various systems in the body to promote relaxation and better sleep. PURICA Sleep Support contains ingredients that are known to calm the body and mind, relax our nervous system and help regulate stress hormones. This formula addresses multiple causes of poor sleep.
Now over to you and setting your plan in motion
Incorporating some of the information in this article may seem daunting at first, but if these practices are slowly incorporated over time it becomes a routine and I promise your body will thank you (often loud and clear) for the effort. Many of us are already doing, or trying to do, some of these things, but it is best for each individual to find the practices, approaches and supplements that resonate with them and, perhaps most important, can be successfully incorporated into ones current life without causing more stress. If something doesn't work for you, change it! But don't give up altogether.
Adam waking up with the sun and getting ready to summit the highest point on Vancouver Island.
And for those who are already doing well and doing some or many of the things I've mentioned, you can take your health to the next level through 'adding' to your foundation with researched practises such as cold therapy, different breathing techniques (box breathing for one is great), sauna, infra-red light, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), intermittent fasting (but don’t under-fuel yourself!) and other modalities that have been shown to elicit a healthy response for most people. It is very important to begin all practices with caution, the body can be slow to respond sometimes remember so be patient, and also commitment. It's important to ensure you find what works for you and give new habits a solid chance to kick in.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy lifestyle you love living!
Photos and Article by Guest Writer Adam O'Meara
Cover Photo: Adam takes his shirt off at ~6800 ft elevation to snap a fun pic!
Adam O’Meara is the Vancouver Island sales representative for PURICA – he has competed in over 15 Ironman Triathlons around North and South America and is passionate about health and wellbeing.