The choices you make, every day, have a direct impact on your health and well-being.
Your diet, mindset, level of physical activity, and much, much more, all impact your overall health wellness in some way, shape, or form.
However, despite being concepts and practices that have been around for thousands of years, holistic health and nutrition have only recently begun gaining mainstream popularity across North America, and around the world.
But the truth is that a holistic approach to life helps you examine your daily choices, improving your mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being.
The Truth - How Junk Food Impacts Health
When you make better life choices, you’ll see incredible changes in your health and wellness over the short and long term.
However, in today’s fast-paced consumer society, more people than ever are eating fried foods, fast foods, convenient pre-packaged microwave foods, and all sorts of other junk food that is extremely high in sodium, fat, and preservatives.
In turn, all across North America, we’re seeing increasing rates of diabetes, oral health issues, and cardiovascular disease in our younger population.
Here’s the truth about how junk food impacts your health.
Long-Term Health Effects
According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, “in Canada, about 1/4 of those 5 to 19 years of age reported daily consumption of sugary drinks.
Research shows that soda, energy, and sports drinks are the top calorie source among North Americans ages 12 to 50. As children get older, they drink more sugar from soft drinks.”
In another Canadian study, 44.49% of respondents stated that they ate fast foods one or more times per week.
This frequent and prolonged use of sugary drinks, and the intake of processed foods and other poor health choices, increases the risk of many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, digestive issues, tooth decay/loss, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and premature death.
The primary causes of heart disease and stroke are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. High blood pressure is often caused by a high sodium diet. Diets high in saturated fats often lead to higher cholesterol levels.
So when you think about the fact that nearly 1 in 4 Canadians consume sugary drinks every day, and that 1 in 2 eats fast food at least once a week, it begins to paint a grim picture of our nation’s actual state of health.
And yes, poor nutrition is also responsible for a higher mortality rate in young people, which is a shocking statistic when you think about the mass consumption of sugary drinks amongst this age demographic.
Short Term Health Effects
There are also many other poor lifestyle choices, such as a lack of exercise, and an inability to properly manage stress, which can cause multiple short-term, second, and third-hand autoimmune complications.
With that said, it’s truly shocking to learn that roughly 1 in 10 (40%) Canadians between the ages of 25 and 64 get less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day, including another 6% who get none at all.
Plus, because our lives are now busier and more action-packed than in previous decades, according to another study, 42% of Canadians say they feel more stressed than they did 5 years ago.
However, the scary part is that these poor lifestyle choices are known to exacerbate existing conditions, such as Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, skin rashes, and more, making them even worse to deal with.
Smoking, for example, really puts a tax on your entire system.
In fact, according to the American Lung Association, one cigarette has roughly 600 ingredients. When lit, those 600 ingredients release approximately 7000 chemicals. Approximately 69 of those chemicals are known carcinogens.
And to make this all worse, additional poor daily living habits make it even more difficult for your body to breakdown and rid itself of toxins.
In other words, it’s not just your lungs that are negatively affected; your heart, kidneys, and liver are also largely affected by the toxins you put into your body and don’t make an effort to expel.
So when you consider both the short and long term effects of poor lifestyle choices, such as not exercising or smoking, it becomes increasingly clear that holistic health and wellness is the best solution to many of the health issues we experience on a daily basis.
Embracing Holistic Health
Holistic health and wellness cover a vast spectrum of practices and habits, which involve the physical, emotional, spiritual parts of you.
What this really means is that there’s a large number of ulterior factors that can affect your health and well-being, in addition to diet and nutrition.
Therefore, when it comes to holistic health, being mindful is just as important to your health as eating your fruits and vegetables.
Essentially, this means being aware of both your mental and physical feelings and emotions at all times. Mindfulness is often thought of as a form of meditation, which keeps its primary focus on acceptance.
So in other words, to be mindful is to constantly remain aware of your thoughts and feelings, both mentally, physically, and spiritually, all without any form of judgment.
Holistic Health Choices
Better, more holistic health choices, start with what you put in your body. So instead of sugary drinks, junk foods, and fast foods, try drinking water, eating fruits and veggies, or a nutritious meal instead.
Drinking plenty of water helps the body naturally cleanse itself of toxins and keeps us hydrated.
It’s also crucial to understand that our bodies are molecular machines, and in order to function properly, they need to be kept in motion. Let’s take a quick look at how movement and motion can help keep you in shape.
- Muscles - Roughly 40% of your body consists of muscles - 600 of them. So by keeping these muscles active, you’ll be strengthening them, in turn, improving your balance coordination, and stability.
- Bones - Physical activity helps maintain stronger, healthier bones. In fact, exercises like jogging, lifting weights, and yoga can even help build denser, more durable bones.
- Joints - Exercise like yoga is great for helping you improve your mindfulness, while also improving your joints’ flexibility and range-of-motion.
- Brain Function - Studies have shown that walking just 30 minutes per day can help improve and “regrow” certain structures of the brain, which have been linked to cognitive decline in older adults.
- Heart - Our hearts keep our blood pumping, and in turn, keep us alive. Regular exercise and physical activity can reduce a person’s risk of heart disease by as much as 50%.
The Benefits of Healthier Choices
Making healthier life choices truly benefits you both in the short and long term.
Simple diet changes will give you more energy, improve your skin, hair, and more! But ultimately, making healthier life choices and staying active will help you live a longer, happier life.
Making better health choices can be hard, but well worth the effort.
After all, making both small, short term, and big, long term changes will decrease your risk of serious health problems in the future.
Above all else, the most important thing you can do is to keep yourself informed.
Learning more about better choices and adopting a more holistic approach to everyday life, will help you to decide what works best for you.
So before you hand your money over to companies that claim to offer “effective natural health solutions”, make sure to do your research and find out if their claims are true or not.
Talk to experts like my friend, Jenna Walsh, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator, who can help you uncover the truth about the factors that are impacting your health.
What To Keep An Eye Out For?
Unfortunately, there tends to be some misinformation surrounding the holistic health industry. And combined with the dissemination of information on the internet, this means that there’s a whole lot of “fake news” out there about supplements and other natural or holistic health products.
This only goes to reinforce the fact that individuals need to be well-informed and keep themselves up-to-date on the latest health information.
Don’t let yourself be a victim of another “snake oil” salesman, especially when it comes to taking or considering taking any type of herbal or alternative health supplements.
If supplements must be taken, first make sure to speak with a trustworthy dietician, who has the knowledge and experience to help you find the right products that will actually benefit you.
Aside from the use of supplements, a certified holistic nutritionist will also help you make better, more informed food choices, as well as helping you make healthier lifestyle choices, such as getting outside more often to breathe in the fresh air!
In the end, remember that there really are no quick fixes or easy solutions when it comes to good health. But with a little bit of consistent time and effort, and the help of a qualified holistic nutritionist, you’ll be well on your way to better health and well-being!
Need Some Help With Your Nutrition?
Like most of you, I’ve not only seen firsthand the results of poor diet and exercise but have experienced it myself.
While making healthy choices isn’t always difficult, putting a nutritious meal on the table can be.
My friend, Jenna, of Walsh Nutrition, is a great resource to help you with your health and fitness goals.
She’ll work with you to develop a program specific to your needs, coach you on meal planning, and provide tips and tricks on healthy snack options to help you ditch those fried and sugary foods.
You can contact Jenna via her website www.walshnutrition.ca.
Jenna Walsh of Walsh Nutrition
Jenna Walsh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with a passion for normalizing food for people of all ages, supporting health and wellness for all body sizes, and rekindling a love for enjoyable, whole foods by bringing families back to the kitchen. She believes eating well, moving our bodies, and balancing our mental and spiritual health are the keys to overall health.