We live in a food-crazed world, including how it relates to our health. That doesn’t make us bad people (because we do love our food!), but it’s always important to consider other aspects of our health that can easily be looked over if we let them. For example, how many of us change what we eat because we want to be healthier? Or, we might hear that some new product, food, or food trend will make us healthier. So on a whim, we just decide to overhaul our fridge and lifestyles in hopes of better health. But we don’t need a new product, article, or trend to tell us what we need to be eating; we all know that whole foods, preferably plant-based foods are a smart choice for the long haul. They’re not that exciting, nor do they come with a flashy headline, but they do the job better than anything else.

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Holistic health is about looking at more than just food though; it’s about considering all aspects of our health that we should pay more attention to, just like the food we put on our plates. No matter what we’re eating, if we’re unhealthy in other ways, no food out there can transform us into healthier human beings. We need to strike a balance of health factors for the long-haul, and it’s much easier to do when we’re aware of what those factors are.

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Take a look at these aspects of health that have nothing to do with food, but are important to take care of yourself for long-term wellness.

1. Our Gut Health

While you might think this relates to food, take a step back and consider this: our gut is in control of our mood, immunity, and our overall health. Yes, food does play a part, but even the perfect diet won’t improve your gut health if other factors are affecting it in a negative way. For instance, stress, lack of sleep, exposure to toxic environments, processed foods, prescription drugs and antibiotics, a negative mindset — these all affect our gut health in ways most people aren’t aware of. The gut and brain are directly connected and our immune systems are largely located in our digestive systems as well. Our microbiome essentially affects all aspects of our health and its health is determined by how much good bacteria we have in comparison to bad bacteria. Probiotics and a plant-based diet will help, but sleep is also important, along with stress management, reducing the toxic chemicals in our lives that deplete good bacteria, and avoiding prescription drugs whenever possible. A healthy gut can create a more positive mood, balanced appetites, improve digestion, protect one against sickness and disease, and even change the entire bacteria make-up in the body. See these 5 Steps to Build and Maintain a Healthy Gut for some special tips.

2. Our Ability to Adapt

One of the biggest parts of our health people overlook is our ability to adapt, yet throughout history, human kind have had to do this on a consistent basis. Adapting to change, challenges, new ideas, and even new schedules or new food choices are all important for us to maintain a healthy mindset. Overly stressing about anything, including change, is just as detrimental to your health as eating something unhealthy. It’s also not worth your mental energy; remember, life is about change and that’s the only thing that never changes. The more we can accept this and roll with the punches, open our mind to new ideas, and continue to be willing to adapt and grow, our health will thank us in major ways for years to come.

3. Be Cultural

No, you don’t have to visit a foreign country, but being cultural is about opening yourself up to others, new places, new ideas, and being a part of an ever-changing world. All different cultures make up the world, and one way we can benefit our health is to learn benefits each one has to offer. If you’re still thinking about food, consider this: without cultural spices and cooking techniques, we’d be missing out on some amazing dishes! The same goes for exposing ourselves to people from other cultures, learning how our habits affect others, practice kindness to people everywhere, and trying new practices by other cultures. For example, yoga or meditation aren’t derived from American culture, but they are two practices that many people use daily here to help them stay healthy. These are just two examples of how being cultural can benefit our health, so get cultural — you’ll be glad you did!

4. Rest and Relaxation

Our sleep is another issue that affects our mood, heart health, and even our weight. No matter how great the food on our plate is, if we don’t get enough down time and enough zzzz’s each night, we will ultimately suffer. Pulling all-nighters might work occasionally, but it’s certainly not good for us in the long-run. A lack of sleep has been shown to be one of the most negative choices one can make for their health, and yet many of us don’t give ourselves this pleasure enough — but we should. And we should also take more time to relax, spend time talking with others, taking it easy after a long day, or just taking a nice walk outside to relax a bit when needed. These are all ways to keep our minds healthy and our bodies. Put them into practice however needed.

5. Activity

And of course, we can’t forget that being active is just as important as down time. Our bodies were meant to move, and they love doing it too! Our digestion, mood, and our joint health all benefits when we are active. It also simulates the brain since it improves blood flow, improves heart health, relieves anxiety, and can even help keep your blood sugar stable since insulin can rise the longer we remain sitting and inactive. Don’t fret about activity; just be mindful of your choices throughout the day. Maybe you could take the stairs more, stand and work, do a little leisurely activity around the house on the weekends — you get the drill. Activity is good for us, so let’s do it more often!

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For a complete 30 day calendar to get you well on your way to long-term wellness, check out our 30 day plan here. And if you’re still concerned about the food (which yes, still are important), then check out our Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for every kind of resource you could need.

Let’s always be mindful of things beyond our meals that help us stay healthy for the long-haul. We’ve only got one life to live, so we better make it count!

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