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Natural Medicine

Natural Medicine

Holistic Nutrition

Holistic Nutrition
Holistic nutrition recognises that there’s more to nourishing the body then just what we eat. There is a complex connection between the physical, chemical, mental, and emotional, as well as spiritual and environmental aspects of our existence. All systems in the body are interconnected, nothing works in isolation, so to truly nourish the body for optimal health, it’s more than just food that needs to be considered. 

Food of course, is a crucial part of nourishing the body, as we are what we eat and food can be, and should be used as medicine. Holistic nutrition considers a whole-food based approach to eating that emphasises the importance of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods to support overall health and well-being. Unlike conventional nutrition, which often focuses solely on meeting recommended daily allowances of individual nutrients, holistic nutrition considers the unique needs of each individual. What works for one person might not for another, so it’s about finding the right types and balance of foods that are going to enhance your vitality. 

Other things factored into holistic nutrition outside of the food we eat are relationships, home environment, home cooking, spirituality, career, joy, stress management and movement. The right nutrition can only go so far, if other areas of your life are causing stress or feeling lacking, the body is not likely to benefit from even the best quality and balance of foods. 

Holistic nutrition fits into a larger functional medicine approach to healthcare, which emphasises treating the root causes of health issues rather than just addressing symptoms. By taking a holistic approach to health and wellness, individuals can achieve optimal health and well-being.

How can holistic nutrition improve digestive health and alleviate digestive issues?
Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, irregular elimination, stomach/gut pains and acid reflux can all be improved with holistic nutrition. 

It’s first crucial to look at what foods cause these symptoms, then eliminate them for a period to heal the gut and digestive system whilst incorporating foods or techniques to aid digestion. From there, it’s important to include foods that are high in fibre and rich in gut-friendly bacteria, such as fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, to promote a healthy gut microbiome and continue to support healthy digestion.

Too many of us fly through meal times, not stopping to truly focus on eating, which can be the cause of many digestive issues. Holistic nutrition teaches techniques that should be simple, but we’re not often taught from a young age so aren’t something that become an auto pilot part of eating. 

The process of cooking your own food helps to kick start your digestion; the smell of food whilst you chop and cook it begins to let your body know that food is coming - another reason why home cooking has such an impact on our health. Stopping to take a few deep breaths before eating gets the body into rest and digest mode (an activation of the parasympathetic nervous system) so your body knows it’s time to put focus into digesting food as opposed to using your limbs to move around. Placing some focus and importance on correctly chewing your food will also support your digestion, as when we don’t chew enough, it makes it more difficult for our stomach to break down food, which then presents problems for the gut. 

What is the role of nutrient-dense whole foods in holistic nutrition?
The role of nutrient-dense whole foods is crucial in holistic nutrition. This is food it it’s mostly unaltered or unprocessed state; the more you process a food, the less nutritional value it contains. Whole-foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and other important nutrients that are essential for optimal health. 

When foods are processed, there is often a need to then make them shelf stable, and that’s where different things are added to the foods which can have a varying effect on our bodies and digestive systems, in some instances being the catalyst for problems presenting in the body. Food additives like preservatives, colours, emulsifiers, stabilisers, flavourings and texturizers can be fine for some, but can wreak havoc for others and can be the cause of digestive issues.

By focusing on consuming nutrient-dense whole foods, you can ensure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function properly, provide optimal energy and support overall health.

How does holistic nutrition take into account the mind-body connection and emotional eating?
Emotional eating is a complex state of which is linked to the mind-body connection. The need to binge, over eat or reward oneself with food doesn’t come from a lack of willpower or inability to control what one eats. Emotional eating stems from a place of feeling lack, filling a void or linked to trauma one has experienced in the past, or even currently experiencing. 

By uncovering and understanding the root causes of emotional eating, such as stress, anxiety, or trauma, holistic nutrition can help individuals develop a healthier relationship with food and improve overall health and well-being.

What natural remedies can be used in holistic nutrition to treat common health issues?
When trying to bring the body back to a state of optimal health, natural remedies are a great inclusion and complement to holistic nutrition. In times of prolonged stress or disease in the body, it’s likely that certain systems aren’t functioning to 100% which means vitamins and minerals from foods might not be absorbed as much as they could. It’s also likely that not every meal eaten has all of the nutrient value you require, which is where natural remedies assist the process. 

Things like herbal teas can be used to support immune function or alleviate inflammation. Certain herbs can have antioxidant benefits for a healthy digestive system, circulatory system, and tissue regeneration. Herbs, seeds and other oils provide the body with essential omegas to help support brain function and cognition and support hormone balance for healthy menstrual cycles and fertility. 

Natural remedies come back to the concept of food as medicine, and there is so much benefit we can get from whole-foods, both plant and animal, that support and nourish our bodies. 

What is the impact of organic foods on holistic nutrition?
The impact of organic foods on holistic nutrition can be significant. ACO Organic foods are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilisers, and use natural alternatives to these substances. Synthetic compounds used with growing conventional foods can be harmful to both human health and the environment, potentially contributing to things like digestive issues and other states of dis-ease in the body. 

By choosing organic foods, individuals can reduce their exposure to potentially harmful synthetic chemicals that may be contributing to a worsening of their health whilst also supporting sustainable agriculture practices.

How can a holistic nutritionist help individuals achieve their health and wellness goals?
Changes to one's health incorporates much more than what we eat and how we move our bodies, and a huge part of that requires habit change. A holistic nutritionist can help individuals achieve their health and wellness goals by providing personalised nutrition recommendations and support. They can also work with individuals to develop healthy habits and lifestyle changes that promote optimal health and well-being, creating new habits that last a lifetime. 

Practical tips for incorporating holistic nutrition principles into everyday life?
Here are some practical tips for incorporating holistic nutrition principles into everyday life:
  • Focus on consuming whole, minimally processed foods.
  • Incorporate a variety of fibre-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet.
  • Choose organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised animal products when possible.
  • Include clean, ‘healthy fats’.
  • Try to balance carbohydrate, protein and fat intake with each meal. 
  • Incorporate probiotic-rich fermented foods. 
  • Slow down to eat, chew food 20-30 times before swallowing. 
  • Drink plenty of water and herbal teas to stay hydrated.
  • Prioritise sleep and stress management for optimal health and well-being.
  • Moving your body daily, a 15-30 minute walk is incredibly powerful for your health. 
  • Work stress management techniques into your day, even if it’s only five minutes. 
  • Work with a holistic nutritionist to develop a personalised nutrition plan.

Finding a Holistic/Functional Nutritionist
If you're looking for a holistic nutritionist in Australia, here are some websites that can help:
  • The National Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA) has a "Find a Practitioner" directory that lists qualified herbalists and naturopaths who are members of their association.
  • The (Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS) is a professional association for natural medicine practitioners in Australia, and their "Find a Practitioner" directory lists qualified practitioners who meet their membership requirements.
  • The Australian Holistic Health Association (AHHA) is a not-for-profit association that represents a range of holistic health practitioners, and their directory lists practitioners who meet their membership requirements and adhere to their code of ethics.
  • Bodhi Holistic Hub provides a few options for Holistic Nutritionists, all carefully vetted and verified, giving you peace of mind you’ll be in good hands.

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