Heading up to the New Year we get our lists out. We may reflect on the past year and note down our achievements. We make new lists, or in some cases, we just copy the old ones, because they were unachievable or because our heart was not in it (same thing).
We are fed lists as well: We get the top best TV moments, the top something sports moments; the things which shocked us, the people who were most admired, the people we lost…
And after the pivot point which is New Year, we will be flooded by new lists. Everyone has New Year’s resolutions and as I wrote in my blog ‘New year’s resolutions, where are they now’ last year, healthy eating is number one on those lists. Thus right after New Year, we get lists of what foods are best to eat when we need to lose weight (and according to the magazines, we all need to lose weight), we have to detox and we must extend our knowledge when it comes to the latest superfoods. However, there is a bit more to it than that.
Thinking that a top 3, 5 or 7 is going to make a difference for our health is basically thinking from a medical point of view where one pill solves all our problems. And instead of one pill we use the superfood of the month to define and look after our health. ‘All my problems will be solved because I take kale every morning’. Or if we look at it from a negative point of view: ‘I am unhealthy because I cannot stand kale, especially not in the morning, and the thought to have it raw makes me shiver’.
Thinking that a list of superfoods will help us, that is not the answer. It is simpler than that. Traditionally science looked at our diet in terms of the amount of energy and the composition of nutrients intake. Now more and more research points to the importance of food variety, diversity and quality of food. Sure, superfoods are called superfoods because they have an excessive amount of nutrients in them, and we think that is sexy and oh so efficient. But looking at the amounts AND variety we are required to eat, it is futile to think there is a magic top 5 which will provide us with all the goodness and nutrients we need to lead a healthy life.
But when it comes to our health we have to take everything that feeds us into account.
Due to continuous research, it is evident that both extrinsic factors (like the food we eat and our environment) and intrinsic factors (like gender and our age) influence our capability of how we metabolise the nutrients we consume on a daily basis. Extrinsic factors are specifically linked to the efficiency in how we metabolise our nutrients. Take for example the lack of sleep. A 2017 research among over 160,000 participants showed a direct correlation between lack of sleep and central obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. Negative environments, the ones that induce the release of stress hormones, will impair our metabolic system as well, as I described in my last blog, ‘Want to be smart, go slow’.
These researches show that we are not just nourished by food alone. Creating a healthy environment for you in which you say ‘no’ to certain tasks, and ‘yes’ to self-care more often is as important as a healthy diet. Eating healthy but being surrounded by negativity, unnecessary stress and no leisure time, can increase the risk of developing metabolic disorders in the heart and brain resulting in coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s. This indicates that a healthy diet with nutrient dense and low caloric food is imperative for a healthy body, but as important is the environment and surroundings we allow ourselves to live in.
Eating the right foods in the wrong environment, will not do anything for your health, your wellbeing, mental performance and longevity.
So my list of New Year’s resolutions for 2019 is short but sweet: I want to create an environment for you and for me in which we can be healthy. An environment that allows us to do the things we enjoy to do, and do them without guilt. An environment which allows us to go on adventures and explore. To enjoy, laugh and to love.
Create your environment.