The Optimally Operating Body: 8 Aha! Facts

Our bodies were naturally created to thrive. Often, we only need to go back to a more natural and healthy way of living to be operating optimally.

Here are eight truths about the wonderful workings of a well-functioning body:

1.  It hosts a zoo on the inside

Freaky fact: trillions of microorganisms are having a party in your inner parts. And this is great news! A lack of good bacteria in the gut is linked to a range of illnesses from the common cold to cancer.

Keep the gut’s microbiome naturally healthy by eating fermented foods. Unflavoured yogurt is possibly the most popular probiotic food in Western culture – most others have rather outlandish names (and somehow tend to start with a “k”): kefir, kimchi, kombucha, kvass, sauerkraut, miso and lassi. Good to try them!

Watch out – sugars, processed foods and a lack of fibre in the diet, as well as stress and the overuse of antibiotics, are killing these crucial little creatures.

2. It won’t go sour

We all know that “sour people” are unpleasant. Turns out, they are also unhealthy! The perfect bodily pH is around 7.4, which is slightly alkaline. If you are too acidic, all of your bodily systems are negatively affected.

How to ensure the right pH? Same advice for almost any other health-related issue: Eat a proper and balanced diet! Green veggies are great, as always. Cut back on sugars, refined grains and processed foods and do not overdo meat, wine and coffee. Drink plenty of water.

3. It is not a pain in the… wherever!

When you are hurting, there is no need to pop the pills (and face the side-effects) right away. First give your amazing body a chance to deal with the discomfort naturally.

Eating plenty of fruits and veggies enables the body to manufacture its own salicylic acid (which produces the pain-relieving punch in aspirin!). Spicy food (think wasabi and cayenne pepper) also have pain-relief effects.

Exercising and massaging produce endorphins, which act as the body’s natural morphine. Improved posture, good muscle tone and regular stretching are great to avoid and ease unnecessary aches. Furthermore, you can rub natural oils (e.g. peppermint, arnica and lavender) on painful sites or soak in a magnesium-rich Epsom salt bath. And, of course, you should rest well.

4. It fights inflammation

Inflammation is the cause of many chronic diseases. Luckily, our bodies were made with the ability to combat inflammation, but you need to help it out! Feed it inflammatory-fighting foods (e.g. fatty fish, leafy greens, garlic and fermented foods), herbs (e.g. thyme, rosemary and marjoram) and spices (e.g. turmeric, ginger and cloves). Fill up on green tea and clean water. And for that same old, same old health tip – stay away from junk in your diet!

5. It remembers

Your memory function is boosted when your body is in good physical shape. A healthy sleeping pattern is crucial and – yet again – so is a good diet. (Read more on eating to boost your brain here)

6. It is wrapped in a healthy coat

When it comes to skin health, we often invest big money on small containers filled with empty promises. However, nature has provided us with plenty of good stuff to keep our cover radiant and healthy. Natural oils such as coconut, almond, jojoba, tea tree, papaya and avocado – to name a few – are lauded for their skin care functions. So are raw honey, sea salts, aloe vera and apple cider vinegar.

The health and elasticity of your skin is improved (you guessed it!) by a healthy diet, low in processed foods and high in vital nutrients, good fats and anti-oxidants. Water intake is crucial to keep it well hydrated. Be careful – smoking and excessive drinking will soon show their damaging effects on the outside.

7. It keeps calm and carries on

The optimal functioning body is not in a state of constant stress and arousal. Keep your body naturally relaxed by means of regular exercise, deep breathing, hot baths, meditation and prayer. Consume calming foods and drinks, such as chamomile tea, dark chocolate and anything rich in Vitamin B, magnesium and calcium.

8. It has a good relationship with the sandman

Sleep is not a waste of time. Everything in our physical make-up benefits from this recovering activity. Make sure you get enough, quality hours of shuteye every night.

Yet, all of us know that feeling of sleeplessly tossing and turning. Deal with this tiring condition by sleeping regular hours and going to bed earlier rather than lying in. Create a tranquil sleeping space – a dark, quiet room where no work is allowed. You can even humidify it with chamomile and lavender oils. Eat foods (like cherries, bananas and oatmeal) that boost the sleep-regulating chemical, melatonin, in your body. Moreover, get enough exercise during the day.

Relax before bedtime by engaging in all the calming activities mentioned in the previous point or by reading, listening to peaceful music and sipping on a cup of hot milk. Very important – put a ban on all electronic devices long before bedtime and stay away from stimulants such as sugar and caffeine.

Your body is an incredible instrument that is meant to live life to the fullest. However, you can either harm or help its functioning by your lifestyle choices.

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