When your body speaks, listen!
“I am just not a crybaby.”
This was the response of one reader to last week’s article “Tears help”. I then reflected and said, “Point taken”. How unique and complex, though, the body is — people respond differently to the same thing. Therefore, instead of following the one-cap-fits-all narrative, find the cap that fits you. And, in such a search, your body is probably the greatest speaking guide.
Do you listen when it speaks?
Different strokes for different folks
Universally, garlic, lime, and peanuts are foods good for the body. Yet, strangely, whenever I consume lime alone my throat gets sore to the point of developing a cold; yet honey and lime work wonders for me.
Many have sung the praise of raw garlic, but some remark a nauseating feel “riding” their stomach, and those suffering with low blood pressure may do well to avoid it. An aunt lamented inadvertently killing her nephew. The lad, who was allergic to peanuts, had a deathly reaction when he came home, saw the juice his aunt made, and drank it. The point — one man’s meat may be another man’s poison.
A heuristic approach
This approach involves self-discovery, learning and carefully experimenting. We try out relatively safe dietary practices, but we must watch the effect it has on our body. Try to learn how much of one thing is good for you.
Dehydration is dangerous, and the body gives signs such as thirst and headaches. But so, too, is hyponatremia — too much water or water intoxication. This may cause inside the cells to flood, owing to abnormally low levels of sodium in the bloodstream. Though rare, severe cases have led to seizures, coma, and even death.
Slowly breaking into a habit
Humans are creatures of habit. Our bodies may easily become accustomed, for example, to a sedentary lifestyle, which is clearly not recommended vis-à-vis an active one. However, the transition from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one can be dangerous.
I recall not having exercise in my routine, only to do half an hour vigorous exercise one day. I nearly died. Immobilised on the ground, I begged for water to hydrate myself to normality. The thing is, my body alerted me to the overexertion but I felt I had to go harder. I needed to listen to my body. I then went for shorter, less vigorous 15-minute exercises, until now being able to comfortably do one hour, four days a week.
A neighbour’s son wasn’t so fortunate. He went exercising vigorously one morning and never returned. He had a weak heart. Again, something as good as exercise can be bad if poorly handled.
Obey warning signs
The body is probably the best doctor, because it has the the ability to signal when something is wrong. Any changes in your ability to think, talk, or see clearly could signal all is not well internally. So, too, any unexplained pains or shortness of breath should not be overlooked.
Is there dizziness or unsteady heartbeat patterns? Could a medical check-up be in order? What about feelings of fatigue? Could we slow down and take needed rest? Are you less flexible or agile than before? Could it be old age and the need to be a bit more active? Do you have stomach upset? Are you paying attention to how what you eat makes you feel?
Are you feeling down? Could tears help, or maybe laughing or just having a listening ear? Know what illness you have or are predisposed to having; this is crucial knowledge in our approach to dieting and health.
Remember, what works today may or may not work tomorrow. Your body is an ongoing research, know it well, care for it, and see how it cares for you.
Warrick Lattibeaudiere (PhD), a minister of religion for the past 22 years, lectures full-time in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Jamaica.
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