Love Is A Superfood! Keeping Your Spirit Fit Too

At Meaningfull Foods, we talk a lot about getting plenty of exercise and the right types and amounts of food for your body’s needs.  Diet and exercise are interrelated and work in connection with one another, and if you need some help with your food game, we’ve got you covered on our order page.  However, there is a third part of this equation that we don’t spend a lot of time talking about: our emotional,  mental & spiritual health.  As we head into fall, the days get darker and it becomes even more important to feed your soul as well as you feed your body.

That’s why today we’re introducing the idea that love is a superfood and needs to be incorporated into your daily diet as much as kale and broccoli.  Although the term ‘superfood’ is mostly an invention of marketing and advertising execs, we think it’s a great way of understanding the idea that there are foods that are more concentrated with nutrients and  beneficial phytochemicals that keep your body running at its peak performance.  Similarly, your body needs super-workouts like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to get the biggest bang out of your fitness buck.  But since all of the systems in your body are connected and work together, your mental health actually impacts your physical health.

We are starting to see more research that provides us with a clearer picture of just how these systems work together.  The studies that interest us most include ones that look at how our emotions and thoughts affect our physical bodies.  Actual scientific research studies show the positive effects of happy thoughts, physical affection and love on our overall mental and emotional health, so get as much of it as you can!  Here’s the basic idea as described by the blogspace Daily Superfood Love:

“Every emotion stimulates a chemical response in your body. Positive emotions cause the production of 'feel good' hormones -serotonin and dopamine. Negative emotions cause the production of 'stress' hormones -cortisol and adrenaline.”

How To Master the Mind Body Spirit Connection

Since our mind body and spirit are all interconnected, it makes the most sense to approach taking care of those systems with balance and wholeness.  You may be excellent at getting the right amount of exercise for you, but if you're feeding your body garbage food, then the exercise is not going to do much for you.  Conversely, if you are eating really well but never get out of your chair or off the couch and move around, the food you eat isn’t going to benefit your overall health as well.

The same goes with your mental health.  I have personally gone through periods of my life where I’m so diligent about eating really well and sticking to a regular exercise, but there is so much stress, and, at times, negative feelings like sadness, loneliness or depression that it nearly cancels out the benefit I’m getting from good food and movement.  When this is the case, it doesn’t matter how much exercise I get or how well I eat, if my mind and spirit are starving, I will add weight, get bloated, have headaches, poor digestion and not sleep well.

It’s all about the balance of your mind, your body and your spirit!  Here’s a secret: being a human is hard... and negative thoughts are inevitable.  When you’re trying to eat well and your friend calls to say she wants to go to the new pastry shop down the street, you just have to reach into your toolkit to be able to help you find the best way to say, “Ya know that sounds great but I was hoping we could try the new smoothie cart instead!”  It is the same with fighting negative thoughts and emotional patterns...they are going to come up, you just have to build up the tools to turn the negative into the positive.  

Here are a few tools that we really like to use to keep our cortisol levels down and keep the smiles coming:

Gratitude

Next time you feel frustrated or angry with anything or anyone (especially yourself), acknowledge that you are angry.  Then, say hello to the anger.  Hey anger, it’s you again.  Great to see ya, not!  Tell your anger how unnecessary it is in this situation….say goodbye.  Next, find something, anything, to be grateful about.  It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the situation you are angry at.  Invite gratitude in.  You’ll be surprised at how much more calm it makes you feel than frustration.  

Brené Brown is an amazing social science researcher who has found amazing connections between joy and gratitude.  The interesting thing that she’s found is that it’s not joy that makes us grateful, its gratitude that makes us joyful.  Please, please check out this TED talk on this topic...Brené Brown’s work is fascinating!

Emotional resilience

Just like rubber bands, we are capable of stretching our emotional limits and also have the ability to return to the same state we began in after being stretched.  It is this return to normal that measures our emotional resilience.  How well do you recover after discovering someone has hurt you in a way you may have never expected?  Resilient people can go through a range of deep emotions without throwing in the towel.  Dr. Karen Lawson says, “positive emotions have a scientific purpose—to help the body recover from the ill effects of negative emotions. Thus cultivating positivity over time can help us become more resilient in the face of crisis or stress.”

It may seem impossible to make it through some situations in your life.  But, if you can begin to see the most challenging times as opportunities to change your life in necessary ways, you will begin to naturally have more optimism, hope and knowledge that these times can lead you into unexpected growth, love, connectedness and that sounds like joy to me!  

Forgiveness

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Spiritual Healing reported from their study that adults who were trained in forgiveness over six weeks time had 70% reduced feelings of hurt, 13% reduced anger 27% fewer physical complaints such as pain or gastrointestinal upset.  They also found that the practice of forgiveness is linked to better immune function and a longer lifespan.  Wow!  

Learning to forgive is not an overnight battle.  It is a practice.  Every day you have the opportunity to find new ways to embrace and utilize forgiveness to free your emotions and live lighter!

Essential oils for the limbic system

The oldest and most primitive part of the human brain.  The whole system plays many complex roles in the brain and controls many of our functions.  The limbic system is said to control our emotional behaviors thanks mostly to the amygdala.  The hippocampus, which is responsible for our formation and retention of memories and plays a huge role in learning and development.  The limbic system collects information through sensory inputs and is especially receptive to smells.  Essential oils are so essential because they contain it’s natural essence which contain great powers to heal you in various ways.  As you inhale their scent, microscopic molecules travel directly to your bloodstream.

For more great knowledge on why essential oils are so beneficial for you, check out Dr. Josh Axe’s Guide to Essential Oils  Or if you’re more into the science and history side of things, look at Collective Evolution’s History, Medicinal Uses and Science Behind Essential Oils

Get Involved in the Local Scene!

Our pals at Fitlandia Portland have a great program that is based right here in your city!  It’s always a great idea to get involved in healing practices with other people with the same goals.  The motivation and support it can provide will help you to move forward at whatever pace you are at!  Fitlandia’s program “will help heal and fortify the mind–shifting negative “I can’t” thoughts to “I absolutely can and will!” affirmations. Reduced stress, improved sleep patterns and increased overall vitality are just a few of the side affects. As you begin to manage the emotion-based food cravings, enhanced self-esteem and other positive emotions will take its place.”  Visit their website for more info on how to get involved.  

As always, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!  Check these sites for way more info than we can give you here!  Take care, be well!

https://www.fitlandiafitness.com/about-mind-zoning/

https://draxe.com/limbic-system/

https://youtu.be/iCvmsMzlF7o

http://dailysuperfoodlove.com/4871/how-negative-emotions-affect-your-health/

https://draxe.com/10-ways-chronic-stress-is-killing-your-quality-of-life/

http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/health/thoughts-emotions/how-do-thoughts-emotions-impact-health