MND Fitness

Core Principle 5

Breathe! Use your lungs, use them fully. Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine

Core Principle 5
One of the great problems with diet and nutrition is that we all tend to put far too much emphasis on FOOD. We need to think about food as one element of nutrition, not the whole story. Perhaps it is because so many people spend all their time thinking about food, not air, water and exercise, that they have so much excess weight they want to lose! People ask me about what they should eat more often than any other aspect of health and lifestyle.

Weight loss tip #1: Try to take your focus off food!

It is worth remembering:

  • We can live for about 3 months without food.
  • We can live for about 3 days without any water.
  • We can live for about 3 minutes without any air.

I should also add sleep to that list. Humans start becoming very unhealthy after just 2 or 3 days without any sleep, serious illness such as hallucinations start after about 5 days and death occurs within less than one month, much sooner for many.

Breathing properly, drinking plenty of water and sleeping well are all more important than food. Not enough air, not enough water and not enough sleep, will all make you feel like crap and will all make you ill, lethargic, weary and unhealthy much faster than eating the wrong food.

We need to consume these vital nutrients in appropriate proportions. We are overloading our digestive system (and people wonder why IBS and other gastro-intestinal problems are so prevalent today) with hundreds of different food items every week, many of which contain dozens and dozens of chemicals, additives, preservatives and things with weird names and numbers that we don’t even know what they are.

Look back to Core Principle 3 – and Ingredients label – Sample 4. Just one bowl of that breakfast cereal contains 36 ingredients, and then the milk that goes on top. So if we start the day with that breakfast, we have consumed 37 substances in just one meal – and then we expect our digestive system to just deal with it, and not ever complain! Add coffee and a mid-morning snack, and it’s easy to see how we can clock 50 substances before lunch!

We combine far too many foods together, and the net effect is that some foods pass from stomach to gut too fast and some too slow. Foods get stuck in our stomach or gut with too much sugar and start to ferment, other foods pass through partially undigested, and often we are failing to absorb all the available nutrients that the food can offer us.

Stop and breathe!

Instead we should be trying to breathe more clean fresh air (hint: it would be cleaner if we walked a little more often and left the car at home, there’s another weight-loss tip right there!), drink more clean pure water and eat basic, natural FRESH foods (because the fresher they are, the more natural health-giving fresh watery juices they have inside), organic foods, foods that are locally sourced, seasonal and untouched by machines and chemicals.

Breathing is a vital element of the nutrition mix, and it is the most overlooked one for many people. We Westerners are so culturally conditioned, in the name of vanity, to walk around all day holding our stomachs in that we rarely breathe properly. We hold our stomachs in, squashing up our diaphragm, and this limits our ability to really use our lungs fully.

We need to learn how to breathe fully, dropping our diaphragm to allow our lungs to really fill, maximising oxygen delivery to the blood. So many people complain of being tired, having low energy, feeling fatigued and weary all the time. Just breathe!!! Your body needs oxygen above all else…that Mars bar or Snickers isn’t the energy boost you need, it’s not chocolate cake or biscuits you need, it’s oxygen.

Mixed signals

All too often, the body needs air or water, but people mistake those little signals as hunger, or a ‘sugar low’ and they reach for a snack when it’s not what they really need. False hunger pangs pass in about 10 to 20 minutes. Real hunger won’t go away. Often we feel what we think is hunger, but if we just took a few deep breaths, move our body a little to stimulate blood flow and perhaps drink a glass of water, that hunger will pass. So get up, move your body, breathe deeply, get out, take a walk, fill your lungs with good clean cool fresh air…that’s the energy boost most people need.
Too many people spend most of their day slumped at a desk, they don’t sit up properly, they are crunched up, slouching in their chair, compressing their lungs even more. Your diaphragm cannot possibly work properly in this position, so all your breathing is shallow, just using a small portion of your available lung capacity, using the bit at the top of your lungs. Combine this with the air-conditioned air of modern offices, the stale dusty air from hundreds of whirring computer fans, or the dirty industrial air of factories and workshops, and too many people are breathing too shallow, too quickly and breathing horribly low quality air.

We should all focus on incorporating good quality breathing into our daily lives. It is important to get out of the office and walk around in fresh natural air and natural sunlight every day. I have already thrown out my office chair, and raised up my computer monitor, keyboard and mouse, so that I now stand at my desk all day, instead of sitting. I have been standing for 7 years now, and I could never go back to a sit-down job. Practice deep breathing every day and ensure you are using your lungs fully, and try to engage in regular aerobic exercise to stimulate your chest cavity, working your lungs and increasing their capacity. If you are new to exercise, just a brisk walk is enough to get you started.

Summary

  • Nutrition is about more than just food
  • Any ‘diet program’ that only talks about food is far from holistic
  • Breathe, tummy out, fill your lungs
  • Get outside, get fresh air and sunshine, exert yourself with a brisk walk and breathe deeply