How to boost health — and happiness — holistically

With cold and flu season lying in wait, I’ve started thinking about methods to boost our family’s immunity systems — oil of oregano and mandarin oranges, anyone?

Herbal image

With cold and flu season lying in wait, I’ve started thinking about methods to boost our family’s immunity systems — oil of oregano and mandarin oranges, anyone? At the same time, I started to wonder — could we take a holistic approach to improving our happiness levels?

While we know that some foods help boost our moods, I called on Sue Skillins, a Toronto-based instructor at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, to get her thoughts on ways to holistically boost our happiness.  

How it works

“Reducing our pursuit of happiness to popping a few supplements or mixing a couple or herbs does not do justice to, nor honour, the innately perfect, incredibly complex organism called us,” Skillins notes. She adds that a healthy, balanced lifestyle — consisting of exercise, fresh air, and healthy eating — also helps.  

What you put into your body

“We can exert more control over our food choices by choosing organic fruits and vegetables rich in the 21 minerals that are essential to our health,” Skillins suggests. Opting for whole, unprocessed grains also supports our energy levels, our brains glucose requirements, and a regular digestive tract. Bumping up your B12 levels as well, via organic animal proteins, can also help form a healthy DNA/RNA, red blood cells and a strong nervous system.  

And don’t forget the (healthy!) fats — “omega 6 and omega 3 in the proper ratio to ensure that every cell in our bodies has a healthy cell membrane, allowing necessary nutrients in and unwanted wastes out,” she says. “Omega 3 oil from cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout, contains high levels of eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).” Those fatty acids support our brains, eyes and adrenal glands — the glands that handle our body’s response to stress.

How to supplement

Beyond our whole-food choices, supplementation with the B vitamins, especially B5 (pantothenic acid) can help support our stressful existence, suggests Skillins. B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacinamide (B3), pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid, folic acid (B9), cyanocobalamin (B12), biotin, choline, inositol and para-amino benzoic acid (PABA). While these can be found in a variety of food sources, you may want to consider supplements if you struggle with particular mood issues, such as severe stress or depression.  

Suffer from anxiety or depression? St. John’s Wort tea might help ease your mind and lift you up.     

“5-Hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) is a supplement that supports our tryptophan needs and the serotonin/melatonin levels in our brain needed for that ‘feel good’ sensation we all seek, and to support the rest and regeneration/healing time our bodies must have,” notes Skillins.

However, before you do stock your medicine cabinet, talk to a certified holistic nutritional practitioner or holistic pharmacist to discuss dosages and what’s best for you, especially if you’re already taking medication or have special conditions to consider, such as pregnancy.

Follow me on Twitter @AstridVanDenB

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