I've recently returned from a Fasting Fiesta trip to Spain and can only describe the experience as an opportunity to reconnect with the stillness within. A beautiful space shared with inspiring individuals all giving ourselves a chance to rejuvenate. It couldn't have been a more perfect place to be! My role during the week was to make raw food for everyone on the first & last days, I also ran a few workshops in between then the rest of the time I immersed myself into the juicing, yoga, jogging, daily hikes and a whole host of naturopathic detox techniques. The Nutritional Healing Foundation teachings are based on cellular health and no matter how many times I hear the cell talk, I always find it fascinating to think about what we need in order to thrive. I thought I'd try to share a few of the key points with you.
Fundamentally, we are our cells. All 80 trillion of them. These cells make our tissues which make organs and entire systems within the body. As much as we may at times ponder what's going on internally, we can rest assured in the knowledge that each one of those cells is doing the best it can given the environment it's in, our cells are hard wired for survival and to feel joy, they are not out to make us feel crap or to destroy us. The key is to ask what state our internal environment may be in. There is no separation between body, mind and spirit so whatever is happening at a cellular level will be reflected on any and every level of our being. If we're feeling tired, angry, sad, anxious or isolated then it's good to stop and ask ourselves why our cells might be feeling the way they are and what they might need in order to thrive.
Primarily, we want to feel safe, to feel loved and to have a sense of purpose. In order for this to be realised, our cells need a combination of energy, hydration, essential fats and for us to eat real unprocessed food.
Stress is the main culprit robbing us of energy. There's the type of stress which is external and to a certain degree, out of our control - missing a flight, deadlines at work, stepping out in front of bus etc! but after a stressful situation has passed, our body will return to a relaxed state relatively quickly. It's the internal stresses that can keep the hormones adrenaline and cortisol active and then we find ourselves in a constant state of high alert both physically and mentally prepared to fight or run away from an imminent threat. These internal stresses are mainly triggered by powerful biochemicals such as pesticides on food, synthetic beauty products, prescription and recreational drugs, alcohol, sugar, caffeine, chocolate and modern wheat. Internal stress can also be caused by dehydration, lack of sleep, overeating and negative unloving thoughts. The science is all there showing that pessimism, anger, worry and anxiety all release stress hormones and keep us on high alert preparing for an imminent threat to our survival.
If our diet, lifestyle or thoughts are keeping our body in a state of fight or flight then healing & repair cannot take place. Lets just take that in for a moment - our cells are either in the stress response or they are healing and repairing, they can’t do both at the same time. Stress leads to lower immunity, weakened digestion and a loss of water. Reducing the internal stress factors may sound like a huge task to face but if we want to feel full of energy and allow our cells to be in a state of growth, this is a sensible place to start.
We can't think properly when we're stressed and the longer we're stressed, the more dehydrated we become. Blood moves from our frontal cortex to the reactive part of our brain, we lose the ability to be reasonable and to assess situations with clarity. We don't need to make rational decisions when we're facing danger, we just need to be able to react quickly It can be a vicious circle because the more dehydrated we are, the more stressed our cells become and the less able we are able to think!
Why is it so important to get our stress levels and response to stress under control…. because this is the potential long-term impact:
Adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, fibromyalgia.
Prolonged stress can deplete nutrients required for energy (especially b-vitamins and magnesium) and damages our mitochondria
Mental health problems - depression, anxiety and personality disorders
Cardiovascular - heart disease, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, heart attacks, stroke
Weight gain, diabetes, obesity
Inflammation - arthritis etc.
Menstrual & fertility problems / sexual dysfunction / impotence / loss of libido
Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, and permanent hair loss
Gastrointestinal problems - heartburn / acid reflux, IBS, leaky gut, SIBO. ulcerative colitis, and crohn’s
Hydration is also essential for movement and vibrant life is all about movement. Our cells need to be able to move and we need to be hydrated in order for that to happen. To move food along our digestive tract, to metabolise food, eliminate waste, think clearly and to have a healthy immune system, we require fluid. We need sufficient water to transmit the amino acid tryptophan into our brain which then converts to serotonin (an important neurotransmitter that affects mood) so hydration is essential for good mental health. If it's not present, we can potentially end up feeling stagnant, fearful or unloved, alone and stuck in our lives. Reducing stimulants which stress us out and focusing on hydration can create huge shifts on all levels.
And then there’s fat. Our cell membranes are mainly made up of essential fats, especially cells in our brain. Essential fats mean omega 3 which we need to make prostaglandins which improve brain health and memory, support heart health, help clean our blood, prevent clotting and are anti-inflammatory. What amazes me is that we also need essential fats in order to feel and have emotional expressiveness - to have the ability to digest and move through emotions. Healthy cell membranes help us to feel a sense of connection to our environment.
Detoxing somewhere beautiful was the perfect way to remember how vibrant and full of energy we can feel after we’ve rested, hydrated and felt the sun on our skin.