4 Habits of The Deeply Nourished
The seasons are shifting swiftly here on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the southern horn of New Zealand. As I walk the ridgelines over Aro Ha and lean into the invigorating winds of autumn, I find myself craving more earthy foods that generate sustaining body heat. This includes root vegetables, especially the kumara (an exceptionally nutritious local sweet potato), oils like virgin coconut butter, and warming herbs such as ginger root. While calibrating my diet to the chill, I’ve also been meditating on the many facets of what nourishes us as human beings. What gives us deep vitality and the joy of wellbeing is an open secret – it’s the bare necessities nature has always provided for us. As Damian quotes to all our retreat groups, “Happiness is not something to be achieved, but something to be allowed.”
1 Hydrate for Health
Water composes 80% of a baby’s body, a percentage that tends to decrease as we age and, unfortunately, we settle into unconscious dehydration. Naturopaths now recognize what ancient medical traditions have advocated for centuries: hydration is the foremost remedy for most illnesses, and water is the elixir to lasting health.
No matter what your source of water, the first step towards full hydration is to drink lots of water – at least two to four liters a day plus what your body needs after exercise. Herbal tea counts towards hydration, however alcoholic, caffeinated, sweetened and artificial drinks all cause the body to purge liquid. According to Dr. Batmanghelidj, an author of several books on hydration, many modern ills can be cured swiftly with a simple water regimen. He advocates keeping our digestive enzymes strong by abstaining from drinks during meals, except for small amounts of warm water or herbal tea.
The next aspect of hydration is the quality of water you drink. Here at Aro Ha, we’re blessed with pure, living water straight from the veins of the mountains. Sadly, the sterilization of municipal water and the metal pipes that transport it have adverse effects on its quality. Water is in fact a crystal, and is “programmed” by what it comes in contact with. A Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto, has produced an astounding series of micro photographs of water crystals, revealing that by speaking to and projecting our intentions into water, we actually effect the coherence and beauty of its crystal structure.
So drink the purest water available to you. If living spring water is an option, it’s worth a periodic trip to the source. Otherwise you can invest in a purification or a aqua revitalization system. Consider getting a beautiful glass bottle to carry & remind yourself to drink throughout the day.
2 Support Electrolyte and Mineral Balance
Salt is an often-overlooked ally of hydration. If you’ve ever taken oral rehydration salts after “hitting the wall” during a long hike or intense exercise, you know how quickly it enables your body’s cells to retain water. In addition to hydration, natural salt is a rich source of the myriad trace elements and minerals that we need for peak health. Many naturopaths council that normal table salt, which is refined and contains anti-caking agents, actually leaches minerals from the body. It’s important to take moderate amounts of high quality salt, such as Himalayan pink, volcanic, or sea salt.
3 Know Your Food Intimately
Here at Aro Ha, the gardening team is working towards food independence, while the chefs serve sumptuous farm-to-table vegetarian meals. Part of the retreat experience is to become a “localvore” for your time with us, meaning your diet is as locally sourced as possible. As our head chef Rani says, “My biggest passion is to turn local ingredients into food packed with nutrients and love.”
Back home, it’s hugely beneficial, and surprisingly convenient, to be a localvore. Get acquainted with the farmers’ markets in your area, and better yet, visit local farms to buy food directly. Many farms now offer CSA (community supported agriculture) produce shares, and encourage you to tour the farm to see for yourself what sustainable growing looks like. Of course, the most local food is what you grow yourself! Every gardener will attest to the joy and economy of growing herbs, fruits and vegetables. What tastes fresher and more delicious than a meal from the soil you turn yourself?
4 Fast Periodically
On one of our recent retreats, we had the privilege of hosting Jason Shon Bennett as a guest educator of nutrition. He’s a huge advocate of periodic juice cleansing, and having just done a three-day cleanse following his advice myself, I can attest that it’s a powerful way to shed weight and tone the muscles. Furthermore, fasting brings a deep sense of lightness, wellbeing, and mental clarity. With a wealth of scientific research backing up his insights, Jason teaches that a skillfully undertaken juice fast allows the body to metabolize diseased tissue, purge toxicity as excess fat gets burned, and produce dramatically elevated levels of human growth hormone to build muscle. Fasting has the added benefit of making food even more gratifying afterwards, as your stomach has contracted to be more readily satiated, and your now hyper-sensitive taste buds will discover a whole new world of flavors.
While the typical Aro Ha retreat doesn’t include fasting, our reduced calorie, vegan, mostly paleo diet brings many of the cleansing benefits in a gentle, pleasurable way (not to mention how energizing it is for the sub-alpine hikes!). Our guests have been unanimously thrilled with the toning, weight loss, and increased vitality achieved through an amalgamation of our nutrient-dense diet with hiking, yoga, exercise, and contrast spa therapy.
As the seasons shift, I wish you health, joy, and the best of luck on your own unique journey to deep nourishment.