The quality of our health is comprised of many elements spanning from head to toe, inside and out, physiological to emotional to spiritual, conscious to subconscious. And though this range of health needs can feel daunting, we can streamline a bit in the knowing that practicing and achieving any element of health starts from the same place: self-love.
What is self-love?
Think of self-love as one large, powerful waterfall flowing into many different pools of water, and each pool represents an area of our lives where we can add health and vitality. When we develop and become full with the virtue of self-love, the momentum of this love naturally fills other areas too.
We literally love ourselves into a healthy existence. How beautiful?
Operating from a place of self-love means tuning in and listening to your mind, body and spirit to understand what each one needs to thrive, which can change, ebb and flow with the seasons of our lives. Again, this can range from balancing enough rest with enough movement to the quality of our relationships and type of people with which we surround ourselves. Luckily some areas are easier to sort out and show ourselves love with than others. In fact, there are specific ways that have been proven by science to be among the most self-loving approaches to living a healthier, happier life. We can start with these to get the better-health-through-self-love momentum flowing, and thus begin the virtuous cycle of listening, loving and becoming our best in mind, body and spirit.
Where do micronutrients come in?
Eating in a self-loving way is one of these tried and true places to start or continue our self-love journey. Every time we choose to eat something, we can choose to love ourselves a bit. It is when we eat food rich in micronutrients that we are sending those loving feels to all our cells and systems. Indeed, micronutrients are one of the human body’s top love languages because it is these raw materials, also referred to as vitamins and minerals, that keep our physical systems running optimally from head to toe, inside and out. Micronutrients work with macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) to provide this support and love to our overall health and happiness.
Micronutrients for Mental Health
According to Dr. Julia Rucklidge, Director of the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group at the University of Canterbury, there are now over 30 double blind randomized controlled trials using micronutrients to treat mental health conditions from low grade symptoms of depression and anxiety to more severe mental health conditions, that show that we can create substantial improvement in mental health using nutrients alone.
B vitamins like B12*, B6 and B9 (folic acid) are particularly important for brain health. Without them, we are much more susceptible to brain diseases from depression to Alzheimers (as well as heart disease!). B vitamins also regulate the mental and physical energy we need to feel good, morning to night.
Minerals iron, zinc, copper and sodium are also fundamental for all types of cognitive function.
*Since plants (or animals) do not naturally contain B12, but rather it’s made by bacteria, it’s one micronutrient that can be tricky.
The secret is: Nutritional Yeast.
About two teaspoons of nutritional yeast per day can give us our recommended daily amount of B12 and other B vitamins as well. If by chance you have not tried nutritional yeast yet, please do and make it a part of your daily regimen. It is a deliciously savory, cheesy flavored seasoning that is a great, clean source of plant protein and B vitamins. It’s wonderful sprinkled on anything that you’d also use salt and pepper with. Having a high quality B12 supplement in your regimen is recommended as well, just in case you’re not on your nutritional yeast game.
Micronutrients for Immunity
Micronutrients are also essential for immune function and warding off disease of all kinds. This is largely due to micronutrients’ antioxidant properties. Excessive oxidation in our bodies, specifically that of “free radicals,” creates inflammation and an acceleration of the aging process, which leads to illness. Our bodies take on oxidation through various forms of consumption, including what we eat, but also the air we breathe, water we drink, how much alcohol we consume and the amount of radiation we’re exposed to. Antioxidant rich micronutrients combat this oxidation and prevent and reverse disease.
The main micros that support immunity are Vitamins A, C, E, D* and B’s as well as minerals Zinc, Copper, Selenium and Iron.
*Vitamin D is the other tricky micro. It’s not found in food in the amounts we need it, and it is best received by our bodies through UVB rays of sunshine; a little bit as regularly as possible. So for those of us who don’t live where it’s sunny and warm all year, taking a high quality supplement is important.
Micronutrients are sexy
Embracing and expressing our sexuality is a crucial element in self-love. We are sexual beings and are meant to thrive in this exciting area of our existence. Micronutrients have a huge role in our ability to achieve our sexual desires like hormone regulation for a healthy libido (and so much more) and efficient blood circulation to all the right parts. Micronutrient efficiency also helps us avoid and push past physical and psychological barriers to having a great sex life like stress, shame and low energy.
These sexy micros include D, A, E, B’s and Zinc.
In addition to regulation of our cognitive health, moods, immunity and sexual health, the love of micronutrients saturate our digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory systems; giving our bodies the fuel to effectively absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins and enhance the life-giving movement of our body’s fluids and air through strong heart and lung health.
Other than D from the sun, we can receive micronutrients from two sources: food and supplementation. There are amazing, life altering supplements out there, but the most benefit from micronutrients has been shown to come from eating a consistent diet of micronutrient rich foods. That is because with foods, you get the whole nutritional package, including the macros and the fiber, in their natural form.
And lucky for us, it’s simple. Eat all or mostly organic plant foods. It’s as if the edible plant world was designed specifically for our micronutrient needs. Eating a variety of veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices (and taking a high quality B12 and D supplement) easily covers all our micro and macro nutritional self-love needs to look, feel and love ourselves best in body and mind.
Loving ourselves means making healthy choices in all the ways we can, as often and consistently as possible. Eating a micronutrient rich diet is a foundation of self-love because it is these vitamins and minerals and the properties they carry, that infuse all the fibers of our physical being with vitality and optimal functionality. When our body is functioning well, we feel good from the inside out. This supports true embodiment of self-love from within, allowing us to then carry this love forth into fine-tuning the more subtle and intricate parts of our existence.
Related: Why You Should Create An Altar To Your Venus—An Otherworldly Ritual For Self-Love
What Having Vitiligo Taught Me About Loving The Skin I’m In
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Illustrations: Beth Klein