Dr Gill is a Broadcast Presenter and Advocate for Mental and Social Health Prevention. She is a beacon of light for every woman over 50 and helps you to shine your light in the world, and leave your own legacy as a healthy, enriched and fulfilled woman.
Why your body is like your garden (or Yellowstone Park)
By Dr Gill Barham
In this article, I am going to make it very straightforward to understand what you need to know, what to do and how best to start to enjoy better health for now and always.
But first I want to tell you a story.
Come with me back to the 1930’s when Wolves were removed from Yellowstone National Park to stop them killing a local rancher’s sheep. Even though there was a presence of cougars and black and grizzly bears there, it was Wolves that were the top predators in the park. However, what seemed like a good idea at the time, resulted in some dramatic and long lasting effects on the environment once the Wolves disappeared.
Without the predation of wolves, the local elk population grew, and more often remained in one place to feed on vegetation by the rivers. With significantly less vegetation, the riverbanks began to erode and the rivers widened. The temperature of the rivers warmed because there was no shade cooling them, so the abundance and distribution of fish species changed. Birds that nested by the rivers, no longer had a riverbank to build their nests on, so numbers dropped. Beavers used willow trees on the banks of the rivers for their dams, but there were no more willow trees by the river banks because of the elk, so the beavers disappeared. Get the picture?
But once the wolves were reintroduced in 1995, the balance returned throughout the park. Over time, the delicate ecosystem of Yellowstone was restored to support the range of plants and animals to a healthy state once more. So why would I tell you this?
Your body is like the ecosystem at Yellowstone or even, your own back garden, and like any environment, if you maintain a healthy balance of the things that it needs, it will flourish and keep healthy too. But if you remove or starve your body of even just one essential element, (like the wolves) over time; and this may take MANY YEARS to be obvious, the effects will be catastrophic.
So, how do we manage to keep everything in good order? If you really look at the messages behind all the advice, the experts, the TV/radio shows, magazine and news articles, and the fads and diets, the thread is similar if not the same.
There are four steps that are common at the root of all the advice:
Get adequate and restful sleep
On average, as adults and children we are sleeping 1-2 hours less a night. Our busy lives and reliance on technology is affecting the amount of time we have in bed and the quality of the sleep we experience.
To find out some simple techniques for sleeping well, watch the short video on sleep in the 14 Days to Fabulous series where I cover the main reasons for sleep disturbances and inadequacies and what you can do about them. (link below)
If you are like me until only relatively recently, you may think mindfulness means meditation, and meditation means sitting crossed legged on the floor, often with your eyes closed making an “ommmmmm” sound in the silence of the room.
Well actually, it is more about giving yourself some space in the day. Just to think, to gain some space and clarity and to rest the brain of the thoughts that keep you on the move. What I know now, is that this can be achieved in whatever way you choose. So, whether you do this with a quiet cup of tea at your kitchen table, a walk, run or cycle, listening to music, playing games with children or animals, taking a nap, laughing with friends, or going to an exercise class; especially those that involve deep breathing techniques such as yoga and Pilates you will benefit greatly from the experience, especially if you make it a daily habit. Meditations do work very well though and I have found some fantastic spoken meditations online, which I use every day and are the best way for me to switch off the mind chatter.
Move your body more often
If you regularly exercise, you will be conscious of the effects that this has on your body and mind already, especially when you stop for any reason! However, if you spend hours at your desk, in your armchair or in your car for example, a couple of weekly sessions at the gym will not balance out your ecosystem, which needs to experience regular movement of even the basic kind to stay in balance. So, although I want you to keep up your regular exercise sessions, whatever they may be, it is the small and regular moving throughout the day that will keep you on track.
Parking your car further from your destination so you get to walk the last bit; setting your alarm so you get up from your desk and move about every hour, taking the stairs, playing ball with your work mates, children, animals, dancing to music when you are cooking or cleaning, doing some squats when you clean your teeth, using small objects to exercise while sitting or standing such as water bottles or exercise bands (I have an example of an exercise on my website for you for addressing sciatic pain) all contribute to keeping your body and mind in balance and good alignment.
Feed to succeed
We are living at THE most exciting time for many, many decades in terms of research, development and the understanding of the science of ELITE health. This is due to the discovery and study of the effect that your body’s microbes have on your very own ecosystem. These little gems that live “in you” and “on you” are responsible for 90% of your health and are therefore a powerful tool for you to PREVENT disease, RECOVER quicker from common ailments and even REVERSE chronic illnesses. HOW COOL IS THAT!
Where we once assumed that it was our genes that were in charge, we now know, because of all the studies, that creating a fine balance in our own microbiome ecosystem is the MOST important thing to do in terms of providing your body with suitable and appropriate nutrition. Much like the Yellowstone project, missing out a vital element e.g. magnesium (wolves) or having an over-abundance of something e.g. processed foods (elk) or changing the dynamics e.g. with antibiotics that change the gut flora (eroding the riverbank) creates a domino effect that can lead to your very own version of devastation, UNLESS you know how to remove a domino and thus, stop the momentum into ill health.
If you think of your body like your garden, you will know how important it is to nurture it by tending to it regularly. Feeding it with love, adequate
water and the appropriate amounts, variety and type of nutrients; avoiding harmful chemicals, sheltering the plants from the sun, wind, (rubbish gardeners) and critters, and learning from what works and what doesn’t so that you can take appropriate steps (removing a domino) before things get out of hand, are all necessary and unavoidable moves towards abundance, beauty and balance.
And ALL of this has been known for centuries. There is nothing NEW about the approach to achieving ELITE health but it is more important than ever before to pay attention to it because of the way we live our lives these days. Our parents and grandparents naturally created the good daily habits that are required to PURIFY, FORTIFY and PROTECT us. The difference here though is the interference of our very own “Yellowstone Park project” in other words, our 21st century living, which upsets the equilibrium and can be harmful to our delicate ecosystems.
Hence, we need to learn to feed ourselves to succeed. If we can become an expert in project managing our ecosystems, just like we manage the ecosystems of our gardens, by landscaping, planting, watering, feeding, and balancing nutrients etc, we will have the best opportunity for an abundant, productive and luscious life.
You can watch Dr Gill’s latest VITALITY HOUR on BYP TV and connect with her to be interviewed on her show www.byptv.live
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