A brief explanation of holistic nutrition and ways to change your diet to provide a path to better health now and in the future.

Holistic, or wholistic, medicine is a type of medical practice in which the practitioner attempts to treat the whole individual. Practitioners place great emphasis on the patient's environment, emotions, values, and nutrition, as well as on his/her physical symptoms.

Some examples of holistic practitioners would include general holistic medical, acupuncturists, chiropractors, herbalists, and nutritionists. Holistic practitioners help people use their own capacity for self-healing.

In holistic nutrition it is believed that we need a certain balance of protein, vitamins, and other nutrients to help our bodies reach maximum energy levels and overall physical and emotional health. It is also believed that each individual is different and requires different amounts of these proteins, vitamins, and nutrients to make that particular individual healthy. Holistic nutritionists devise diets that match each individual's health and nutritional needs.

It has been shown that making the right food choices can help to prevent many health problems including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. If you have symptoms of any health problems or disease you should, of course, be under the care of a medical practitioner. If you don't have health problems, you can slowly change your own diet to be most beneficial to your health. However, it is still a good idea to have the help of a holistic nutritionist to make the most of your efforts. Below is some basic information to get you started on your journey to better health now and in the future.

A natural foods diet is very important in holistic healing and nutrition. Locate Natural or Health Food stores in your area. Most large supermarkets even provide a small natural food area. Try to avoid most of the highly processed foods that make up the biggest part of a supermarket. Local farmer's markets or farm stands are great places for finding a variety of natural foods. Take cooking classes and purchase cookbooks that are geared toward using natural foods.

Natural foods that should be a part of your diet include vegetables, whole grains, fish, fowl, and other meats, as well as fresh made juices, herbal teas, and coffee substitutes. Freshly cooked and prepared meals provide more energy (chi) than previously prepared or leftover foods. It is best to try new foods in small amounts until you know that you will not have any allergic reactions.

Holistic nutrition addresses digestion, adequacy, balance, and moderation for each individual.

Foods must be easily digested in order to be beneficial to health. Cold foods tend to be harder to digest than warm or hot foods. Cold beverages can slow down the digestion process and can make your meals harder to digest. It is also very important that food be chewed very well before swallowed.

Keeping the intestinal tract healthy is of great benefit to proper digestion and overall health. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that contribute to intestinal tract health. Many traditional foods such as miso, pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, and beer or wine provide probiotics.

A diet that is adequate will provide enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to replace those that are used during the course of the day. Try to get adequate amounts of these from your diet rather than from supplements unless your nutritionist tells you differently.

A balance in the diet must be achieved by eating a variety of foods daily. Try not to fill up on foods that are high in one vitamin or mineral and ignore others that are equally important. Remember that a diet that is balanced for one person might not be balanced for another person. Experiment and find what balance of foods is best for your health.

There are certain foods that must be used in moderation such as high fat, cholesterol, and sugar items. Processed foods and foods with a lot of sugar substitutes such as aspartame and neotame should be avoided as much as possible. Not only are they full of toxins that can they be detrimental to your health, they are also hard to digest and eliminate.

Two types of essential fatty acids are important to our health. Linoleic acid is provided in sesame seed oil, sunflower seed oil, hemp seed oil, and safflower seed oil. Alpha Linoleic acid is found in hemp seed oil, organic soybean oil, flax seed oil, and ground flax seeds.

Changing a diet for the benefit of health is always a challenging endeavor. Don't be too hard on yourself for making mistakes; this will only cause negative attitudes that can actually make your health take a turn for the worse. Have fun experimenting with different foods. Enjoy making a healthier you.