If these three principles are adhered to we are more likely to develop a diverse microbiome in our gut. The health and diversity of our microbiome is now thought to be a huge basis of our longevity. A fact that traditional natural medicine has known for many years - our gut is the strength of our wellness. Years ago little was known about any relationship between the gut and the brain, and the gut and the immune system. It is now recognised that there is an important relationship as the gut influences the brain and immune system in a positive physiological way.
So, could depression be linked to our food choices? Yes it certainly could, however this is not to ignore personal circumstances. Fresh whole food will support emotional wellbeing and help us make better choices. When we feel we have lost choice in our lives it will generate stress, why not try replacing 'should' with 'could'. 'Could' allows us choice, hence less possible trauma. We will not age well if stress is ongoing, because simple things like digestion shut down while the body increases its coping mechanisms to cope with the stressors.
Diversity in our microbiome is more likely when there is a variety in our diet i.e. a broad array of nutrients provided on a daily basis, not the same food day in and day out which increases the likelihood of nutrient deficiencies. Fresh food of course will have higher nutrients, and whole food provides much needed fibre - fibre is a must for making some of our own gut bacteria. A healthy diverse microbiome is enhanced by plant fibres plus ‘good guy’ bacteria (if supplementation is not desired, fermented food is your best choice), which in turn helps make short chain fatty acids (SCFA) - these SCFA’s help make their own anti-inflammatory compounds for the gut, and fuel up the colonocyte (gut cells).
If we take our wellness back to a cellular level - and each cell in our body is functioning at its optimum, it makes sense that our longevity will be enhanced. Yes fresh, whole and variety are key players, however we cannot omit water. Without adequate water (this could be high water based vegetables, not just clear liquids) our cells will not detoxify correctly through the liver and we will not generate energy at a cellular level. 'I am tired all the time', is probably one of the most common comments I hear as a naturopathic practitioner. Look at your water intake if this is the case for you. We could take all the pills and potions in the world but if your water intake is inadequate you may be wasting a lot of money. We do not see dehydrated bodies living long lives.
Being physically active, is vital to living a long, healthy, productive life. It offers a lift to our alertness, helps with a positive outlook on life, while lightening our attitudes and lessening mood swings. Exercise can trigger a number of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that offer us a feel good, life is great attitude. Feeling down? Then get moving, preferably out amongst nature.
Antioxidants can be likened to cellular protectors - very important in our diet. They are found in all those beautiful bright colours in our food, i.e. beetroot, kumara, yellow fruit/veg etc. Fruit tends to carry a higher array of antioxidants, ideally organically grown. The sprays that are often used on our fruit and vegetables can carry an extra burden for our liver and kidneys to deal with, so certainly would not be the best for a long life. While organic veg might not look as perfect as some sprayed veg you can purchase, you can be rest assured that it is highly likely the organic will have a greater range and amount of nutrients.
Naturopathic principles often involve dietary changes, if undertaken, any alteration is best done slowly. Lifestyle changes are difficult for most of us, so be kind to yourself, think about your gut more and stay hydrated. If you enjoy tea, coffee and alcohol, a good habit is quench your thirst first, and you may find that you will not go back for more, quite so often.
We are all a product of our own genetic inheritance, some being luckier than others. This does not however mean a shorter life. It may just mean that we need to find the right choices for our own genetic makeup. Many herbal medicines can support your inherited body, these choices however are best made with your own registered natural health practitioner, so that it suits your own biochemical make-up.
There is no one answer to our wellness or longevity - there are many answers that complement each other. Seek out support where necessary. Nature can, and does heal.