Are you a gardener? If so, you may know that rotating crops is an important strategy for a good crop, but why is it so important and what can we learn from it?
While it’s nice to have a variety of vegetables to eat from year to year, the strategy is intended to keep the soil rich in nutrients. When the same crop is planted over and over it can deplete the soil.
According to Soil Health Academy, “more diversity increases the variety of root exudates produced by the plants and this attracts a much broader array of soil microbial species.” In simple terms, this means that “diversity increases resilience” in the soil.
This got me thinking about how important diversity is for us. We all want to be resilient in both our physical and emotional health. Could diversity help us achieve it?
Let’s explore why diversity is so important and how it can increase resilience in you!
What Does it Mean to be Resilient?
The dictionary explains resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.” It’s a sort of toughness that allows you to bounce back from setbacks or challenges.
Hard things happen in life! There is no way to prevent all challenges, but we can build our resilience so that when trouble comes, we can recover in the best way possible. In order to build resilience, we need to establish diversity.
In a very real way, the more diversity we have, the more resilient we are in both our physical and mental health. So, in a very real way, diversity makes us more capable of moving through these trials in a healthy way.
Diversity in our Diets
As I'm sure you all know by now, I am a big fan of eating real food. One of my goals with everyone that I work with, however, is to eventually be on the most diverse diet that they can tolerate. Different foods have different components. They have different vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. If a person is only consuming chicken and broccoli every day, while they are eating "real food," they do not have much diversity in their diet. This means that they are likely not getting the full spectrum of all of the nutrients that their body needs to thrive.
Having a variety of meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats is going to bring about not only more diversity in the nutrients for you, but also different components to feed a variety of gut bacteria so that the different species can all be taken care of!
I challenge you to eat the rainbow and to try to have fruits and vegetables of every color throughout the day!
I challenge you not only to eat chicken breast, but to eat proteins from beef, eggs, fish, and shellfish. I'd also love for you to eat different parts of the animal (not just muscle meats, but organ meats and bone broth), as they are especially nutritious.
Organ meats specifically are one of the most nutrient-dense parts of the animal in terms of vitamins and minerals. Eating liver is like consuming nature's multi-vitamin! And bone broth has a different amino profile than muscle meat that can be incredibly nourishing to your gut lining, skin, hair, nails, and joints!
Step outside of your comfort zone and try to add some diversity to your real food diet! Let me know how it goes.
As you all know by now, I love to think about how our ancestors lived, and how we can mirror this in our lives.
Most of us do a lot of sitting throughout the day. Then if we do move, we may go for a walk or a run. We wear shoes. We walk on flat grounds in our homes, and mostly flat streets, sidewalks, paths, treadmills, and gym floors. We have certain exercises that we enjoy doing, but often don't stray much from that.
Without diversity in your movement, not only you will be prone to injury, but you won't have the mobility and strength that you likely could have with more diversified movements.
Katy Bowman, author of "Move your DNA " and many other books, talks a lot about this topic. In the same way we think about eating a varied diet to get all our nutrients, she talks about having diversity in our movement to get different movement "nutrients"
What are some ways that we can incorporate more diversity in our movements?
- Go barefoot (especially outside on irregular surfaces). Let all of those tiny foot bones gets some movements instead of being trapped in a shoe on flat grounds.
- Get out in nature. Go for a hike and get off the beaten path. Find a hill so you can incorporate an incline into your walk.
- Ditch the chair or couch. If you are at home, instead of just sinking into your comfy furniture, think about how much more your core/body would have to be engaged if you were sitting on the floor. If you took a time lapse video of you sitting on the ground while watching a movie, it would likely look like a stretching routine with you constantly varying your position. On the other hand, a time-lapse video of you sitting on the couch would probably show very little movement or muscle engagement.
- Play! What did movement look like when you were a child? How could you incorporate more of that into your life? Running? Chasing? Climbing? Swinging? If it's been a while, go slow, but you will be surprised at how quickly it can start to feel more natural again.
- Play a sport. Is there a sport that you love? Tennis? Golf? Pickleball? Dancing? Most sports will give you much more variety of movement than simply going for a run, a walk, or even working out on an Elliptical machine.
- Take breaks. If you have to be at a desk for many hours a day, set a timer so that you get up and move around often. I have one day a week that I get caught up on all of my computer work. Since I am sitting more that day, I set my timer for every hour. Each hour I get up and go for a 5-minute walk around the block. At first, I was worried that I'd be wasting time, but in reality, I feel more focused and productive when I return from my walk! It's a win win!
- Add variety to your exercise routines. Sometimes focus on lifting heavy things (weights, odd objects, etc.). Other days try more body weight movements and mobility work. Use your whole body.
Remember, movement doesn't just apply to what you are doing for exercise, but really the sum of all of your moving in a typical day. Think about one or two ways that you could add more diversity to your daily movement!
A person who is emotionally healthy experiences a variety of emotions. They are not happy all the time, sometimes they are sad. They are not peaceful every minute of every day, sometimes they feel angry.
A range of emotions is normal and natural. It shows that you are in touch with your inner world. People who aren’t able to feel a full spectrum of emotions are often stuffing their difficult emotions. And this comes at a cost!
Pushing these harder emotions down can lead to depression, anxiety, resentments, as well as a host of physical problems.
Allowing a variety of emotions to be experienced can help you move through the difficult ones more effectively. This creates emotional resilience you can’t get if you only allow yourself to feel “good” emotions.
Diversity can also bring health and resilience to our relationships. Typically, the best relationships are reciprocal ones where we both give and receive.
When one person is always giving and never receiving, that person can feel taken advantage of and resentment can build up. If there is give and take, both people feel valued, and they are more easily able to work through the difficulties every relationship faces.
Diversity in the people you interact with can also create resilience and lead to a rich relational experience. When we only have one person that we expect to “be everything” for us, it can put a lot of pressure on the relationship. This can lead to an unhealthy dependence or enmeshment.
Having many people in our lives will also expose us to different perspectives. This diversity of opinions makes us more well-rounded individuals. It can both make us more confident in our convictions and give us the opportunity to explore new perspectives.
Overall, diversity enriches our lives. It allows us to grow and take more chances because we know we are resilient and can make it through things that don’t go as we plan. What areas would you like to create more resilience? How could diversity help you do so?