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Life is A Balance By John T G Nielsen General Manager & Nutritional Advisor of Fivelements Retreat Bali.


We have bounced back from a global pandemic that caused 2020 and 2021 untold damages to many people’s health and businesses around the world, but the sad fact is that we have over the past two to three decades been experiencing a pandemic that has been causing massive damages to people’s health with little or no interference from governments.

I was driving to the launch of a mental wellness clinic in Denpasar on the island of Bali a few weeks ago when my colleague asked if he could stop at a famous fast-food place to get a soft drink. We parked and walked in. As I gazed over the floor, I saw a “restaurant” that was full, which is great for business, but sadly in this case it only highlights the pandemic of nutrition. 

We have known for decades that having a balanced lifestyle will improve many aspects of a person’s life. Eating well and healthy with a balance of whole foods and a higher percentage of vegetables, exercising regularly and drinking limited amounts of alcohol will have excellent long-term benefits to your health and personal wellness. The wonderful expression attributed to Hippocrates (BC400) “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food” says so much about how having a balanced and healthy diet can have so many positive effects on our lifeCountless research from universities, be it Harvard Medical School or The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine or books from leading medical authors including Dr Michael Greger’s “How Not To Die” or The Longevity Paradox by Dr Steven R Gundry highlights the relatively simple things we can all do to lead a healthier life or as Dr Gundry writes “How to die young at a ripe old age”.   

Getting off first-base.

Modifying your diet to include foods packed with antioxidants (Green tea, dark chocolate, prunes) and polyphenols (berries, olives, beans) and cutting down on processed food can play a positive role in starting the journey, but equally as important is the key ability to move and create a regular workout routine. No, you are suddenly not going to be training for a triathlon but build up your fitness level and start a new chapter in your life. Ms Julie Bach, founder of Wellness Four Cancer makes it clear that by simply being active for a minimum of 22 minutes per day “you suppress the cancer cells' ' which cause us so much harm and damage. 

Living foods, often referred to as dining on plant-based foods, have numerous health benefits. A senior chef at Fivelements Retreat Bali had a very personal story when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. He started her on a mainly plant-based diet with only small percentages of fish and white-meat and over a six-month period saw many positive changes and after 12-months the Doctor informed the couple that she had won the fight.  Today his wife continues the diet and has recovered completely. 

The plant-based diet includes fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, kale and spinach, almonds and walnuts, olive oil, tomatoes, and whole grains. There is no need to become a vegan, other than for personal preferences, but having a ratio of 75% plant-based and 25% fish or high-quality meat will greatly assist you. Fish including salmon and sardines have shown many benefits to aid your general health. As I often say to people, when buying your foods, look for locally sourced foods that support a local economy and are often grown with much love and dedication and in many cases are also grown using organic philosophies. Seek to avoid high sugar and processed foods that include refined carbohydrates, like pastries, fried foods, and processed meats.

Get the body moving.

There have been countless studies showing the positive effects on regular exercise and what it can help prevent including type two-diabetes and obesity. The good news is it's never too late to start and there are many ways to start the process. The old saying of “eat like a King or Queen for breakfast, a Prince or Princess for lunch and a dinner like a pauper” still rings true. Instead of settling into a sedentary post-dinner routine, consider taking a 30-minute stroll with your dog or partner in your preferred park. This simple practice can effectively jump-start your metabolism, enhance the quality of your sleep, and offer the added benefit of engaging in pleasant conversations with friends. Supporting Julie Bach’s statement is the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who found that regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent or delay many of the health problems. At least 150 minutes a week (for example, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) of moderate activity such as brisk walking or if you prefer more vigorous-intensity activity such as hiking, jogging, or swimming. Join a local yoga studio or gym and join in a class where you will meet other like-minded friends.

There is numerus of fun events to join or fun activities such as the World Wellness Weekend which takes place every September and you will soon the many positive effects

Final thoughts

Finding a good balance will give you many benefits and joy. You will see gradual changes and often just feel better about yourself. You can still have that coffee with friends, but maybe slow down on that delicious cake or almond croissant and have an apple instead! Walk to the cafe or even try riding on a bike. As with all things in life it’s a balance and starting the process is the best way forward. 

If you have any concerns, see your local Doctor or at a gym speak to personal trainer who will guide you and set a schedule. Wellness is not meant to be a chore, but something fun and long-lasting. As Nike says, “Just Do It”.