There are a few different variations on the 4 pillars of health and most of these variations have just been created so a doctor can put ‘their unique spin’ on the same principals and use this twist to sell copies of their new ‘life changing book’. My personal favourite of the 4 pillars are; Nutrition, Physical Activity, Sleep, Stress management. If you have all 4 of these in check you will be a long way towards living a very healthy life!
Most of us are weaker in at least 1 of these areas, but we should remember that continuing with the pillar metaphor, 1 pillar being weaker jeopardizes the stability of the entire structure. You could be eating – on point, exercising – on point, but you are stressed out of your mind and as a result are struggling to sleep and I can guarantee you no number of salads or runs on a treadmill are going to make you feel better. I will go into each area and how we can best control them in a separate blog each over the next 4 weeks, but for now let’s look at the equation as a whole.
Okay so bare with me here because stuff is about to get a little tangled! No 1 pillar is completely independent of the other:
· If you eat a bad diet you will struggle to properly fuel physical activity and as such will perform to a lower level and get tired quicker. Poor nutrition and poor nutrition timing can result in reduced duration of sleep and lowered quality of sleep and additionally nutrient deficiencies can massively affect our mental states and lead to lowered self esteem!
· Exercising properly and sufficiently can help to improve the quality of sleep in addition to helping cope better with stress and making you feel better as the exercise prompts the release of endorphins! Exercising also helps the digestion process of food helping food to move through your body more efficiently.
· Sleep – trust me the blog post on sleep is going to be a blinder! Sleep is the forgotten hero of health! A lack of sleep hinders our physical and mental performance since sleep is important for physical and mental recovery. A lack of sleep has been linked to increased hunger and craving for unhealthy snacks making it more difficult to stick to a healthy diet. A lack of sleep has also been linked to lowered mood.
· Stress management, how many people do you know who are highly stressed but healthy? Stress is like a very slow acting poison which just drips into our blood bit by bit. After a while people become ‘used’ to a particular level of stress and accept it as normal, unfortunately their body doesn’t, stress causes increases in blood pressure, disrupted eating schedule as stress makes some people want to eat non stop (often called comfort eating), while other people avoid food all together. Stress can lead people to other lifestyle problems such as addiction in efforts to escape the feeling of stress and the accompanying negative emotions. Stress can cause disruption to sleep duration and quality and has been linked to insomnia.
Okay so you made it through that tangled web of links and interactions, the point that I am trying to make is that each of these pillars is affected by and relies on the other 3 in some way. While it is often impossible to be completely perfect in all of these areas all of the time we should make an effort to acknowledge the value of all of these areas and make sure we are not ignoring or neglecting any of them, otherwise our health as a whole will suffer!
Over the next 4 weeks I will go through each of these pillars one by one and explain in more depth not only the value of the pillar but also ways in which we can optimise and improve it to overall enhance our health!
Next week’s topic – Sleep