As a qualified pharmacist, Miriam Kerins Hussey has identified a healthcare epidemic among people living in our Western society. Throughout Miriam’s career, she has witnessed a fateful rise in food-related illnesses including obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. While observing this trend Miriam became convinced that it was time to transform how we view our personal health and well-being.
Although Miriam acknowledges that the pharmaceutical industry can play a vital role in the management of our health she has now developed a firm conviction that in order to thrive we must adopt a holistic system of living. This insight inspired Miriam to further her studies and so she trained as an integrated health, wellness and nutritional coach. In addition, Miriam qualified as a yoga instructor.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Miriam to explore how we can increase our energy, live vibrantly and nourish our bodies so that we may obtain the best that life has to offer. Miriam’s beliefs are serendipitous to that of Hippocrates who famously stated: “let food be thy medicine”. Unfortunately, much of the food available in supermarkets, cafes and restaurants today lack the nutritional, mineral and antioxidant value that is crucial for the basic functionality of our cells. As a result, our cells are starving, they are absent of the amino and fatty acids necessary for cell repair, mental clarity and overall well-being. Instead, the food that many people consume is processed and brimming with carbohydrates. Miriam explains that abiding by this diet results in our cells becoming increasingly overfed and worryingly undernourished. In fact, “the more we eat food made by people in white coats, the more we will need to visit other people in white coats” she explains.
Everybody is aware that they should avoid problematic foods but resisting sugar cravings can be a difficult task. A major reason for this is because our cells are continually deprived and yearning for the right nutrients from good food. Undernourished cells frequently lead to stress on the body. This stress state induces the sympathetic nervous system and what is commonly known as the fight/flight response. From an evolutionary perspective, the fight or flight response requires an enormous amount of glucose. In a panic to quickly restore glucose, the body once again craves carbohydrates to release sugar into the bloodstream. Indulging in these cravings causes a spike in sugar levels but only offers temporary relief before the body is once again craving for more sugar and so the vicious cycle continues.
Fortunately, Miriam believes that it is possible to break this cycle by focusing on five key areas and executing a simple routine.
Asking questions such as “what is the root cause of my illness?” and “How is my lifestyle nourishing me?” can be an extremely revealing exercise. By repeatedly asking these questions one can develop a sharp awareness of their habits and the impact that they have on both mood and energy.
Food and Hydration:
In recent years diet has become a regular discussion among healthcare professionals. Unquestionably, diet is an essential factor for healthy living but it can often be a struggle to sift through the enormous amount of conflicting information available on the subject. As a general rule, Miriam suggests that a healthy diet should be primarily plant-based and recommends that our plates should contain a wide variety of colourful foods. By eating fruit and vegetables that contain the colours green, yellow, red and orange we can ensure that we are consuming foods that nourish our cells with the nutrients that they require. Along with a healthy diet, we should aim to drink approximately a litre and a half of water each day.
Our modern lifestyle can be stressful for many and a good night’s sleep is one of the most effective ways that we can assist our bodies recovery. To obtain a good night’s sleep we should avoid eating three hours before bedtime, within two hours of sleep we should begin to unwind from work and start to relax and within one hour of sleep, we should unplug from all technology including TV, phones and laptops. This practice allows the brain to unwind for gaining much needed quality sleep.
Deep breathing, yoga and meditation are all great ways of inducing the parasympathetic nervous system and the associated relaxation response. Although many people may feel they are too busy to integrate a breathing or meditation practice into their lives the truth is that breathing exercises can be done anywhere. Miriam suggests that we can take five deep breaths many times throughout the day, – “when we wake up in the morning, before we start the car or before we open our laptop”. Breath in through your nose to the count of 4, pause for a brief moment and exhale through the nose or mouth.
Exercise is paramount for reducing weight, combating chronic disease, boosting energy levels and stimulating clear cognitive function. Establishing an exercise routine can be one of the most practical tips for fighting off illness and for living robustly. Exercise promotes blood flow and cleanses stagnant energy from the body.
As a final word, Miriam highlights that we must never underestimate the health benefits of a joyful soul. Feeling good has immeasurable advantages. By embracing laughter, connection and creativity one can stimulate the “feel good” brain chemicals of serotonin, endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin. – “Do what you love, whether it be painting, playing golf or walking in nature”.