Veterans – you have always been and will always be a critical part of our nation’s wellbeing. And there are many of us – although not all who say it out loud – who greatly appreciate all you do, inclusive of the many sacrifices you make. You serve, and you come back to a country that is perhaps not doing the best job of taking care of all of your needs – your physical health, your emotions, your thinking, and your spirituality, to name a few.
However, do not worry – you can learn to take such great care of yourself that you can get all your needs fulfilled in a safe and efficient way with you, yourself, paving the way to wonderful health and wellbeing. In fact, you can read about various excellent strategies to build up your health in a meaningful way.
Are you an individual or parent, or perhaps you a professional needing continuing education seeking a more holistic lifestyle? Are you struggling with addiction issues, or do you know someone who is? In this article, you will learn much more about how a healthy diet, together with a few well-placed supplements, can help you make such significant strides to your overall health (think your emotions, your thought processes, your physical body, and your own brand of spirituality), that you will be able to pick up when you return from military duty and forge a wonderful, happy, and exciting civilian life journey.
Did you know that the health of your physical body also supports your mental health? Well – it’s true! In fact, some foods are so unhealthy, they become addictive in your body, just as drugs do. (Think anything with table sugar, high-sugar fruits, and anything with wheat like pasta and bread!) There has been significant research conducted which proves that the food we eat has a profound effect on our moods. It is clear that anyone who has sacrificed like our hero veterans do is vulnerable to moods changing in a significantly dangerous direction. Well – food to the rescue! Moods like anxiety, depression, excessive anger, stress, overeating, and even drug problems can be great improved by changing your diet. If you’re eating a typical American diet that is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, and this encourages you to eat too much food, as well, this can result in elevations in your blood sugar resulting in fuzzy thinking and sleepiness. And if you eat too little food, your blood sugar can drop with a potential result of your getting irritable, aggressive, tired, and/or feeling weak. This diet, plus all that you hero veterans deal with serving our country, can leave you more vulnerable to chemical dependency/addiction. Did you know that around 200 genes in our brain are impacted by drinking alcohol, and judgment and decision making are usually negatively affected?
So instead, think about eating more salads with fresh brightly colored, various veggies – raw – with a healthy fat-based dressing. Some examples would be romaine lettuce, tomatoes, spring onions, red-leaf lettuce, cucumbers, etc. At times, the difference in price between organic and conventional produce is marginal, and buy organic especially when it’s on sale. However, if you just eat more fresh vegetables, regardless of whether it’s organic or conventional, will put you far ahead in the health race. Eat more of your carbs from this delicious list (to be expanded) instead of breads and pastas and mac and cheese.
Try eating wild-caught fish, free-range poultry products, and grass-fed beef. Do you think you can’t afford these? Watch for them in the mark-down sections of your grocery store. Buy them at reduced rates and toss them in your freezer, where they will keep fresh for a long time! Also, nuts and seeds are extremely helpful in terms of taste and nutrition. In fact, you can really dress up a salad with them, or make a meatloaf with them that gives you a delicious and different taste plus texture. Remember, we eat with our eyes too, so make your meals pretty!
Some immensely helpful and well-researched supplements to build your health and your mood and general outlook on life (as well as your behavior) are Vitamins D, E, C, all the Vitamin B’s, and Omega-3’s (think fish oil or Icelandic cod liver oil), but there are many more, and it is a great idea to find out what your individual body needs to function more optimally. And did you know that many people are having great success being treated with amino acid therapy rather than mental health meds? Yes – they work for many and are quite healthy!
A word about immunity – about 2/3 of your immune system resides in your gut, so it is essential, especially in the current day and age, to keep it healthy. Sugar is an enemy of gut health – be aware! So are processed foods, and especially grains like wheat in its various forms. Your gut needs fresh and lightly steamed produce on a regular basis, and fermented foods are an excellent way to beef up your immune function. Think miso soup, even pickles (especially if they have no chemicals or sugar in them), sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, yogurts with live cultures, etc.
When returning from active duty, you may not be in the mood as much for positive social relationships, but please understand that those with stronger social relationships have a much higher likelihood of survival. Good friends are good for your health, especially during traumatic times. Adults with a strong social support group have reduced risks of depression, high blood pressure, and generally live longer (and happier).
Well – there’s a whole lot more to this story, but you get the idea that food is directly linked to your mood – and so much more when it comes to your health. Feel encouraged to learn more!
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
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Dr. Donna Poppendieck
Health and Wellness Online, LLC