Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes — What You Need to Know About the Six Pillars of Health

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Hello there! This week’s hot topic on Nutrition Notes, is the six pillars of health. These six pillars are the building blocks for a solid foundation of a healthy body and a healthy life. Each pillar plays a crucial role in maintaining a well-rounded healthy lifestyle.

Leah Gardner, EPH Registered Dietitian

The six pillars of health include:

1. Nutrition: What we eat significantly impacts our overall health and well-being. Pay attention to your dietary choices and choose whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and healthy fats like fatty fish, olive oils, nuts, and seeds. A balanced diet rich in phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals is key to a healthy you.

2. Movement: Regular exercise enhances both our physical and mental health. It supports our heart health, muscle strength, flexibility, and mobility. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and at least 2 days of strength or resistance training per week.

3. Sleep: Quality sleep is foundational and supports cognitive function, immune health, and overall vitality. Prioritize consistent sleep patterns and aim for 7-9 hours each night. Turn off blue light sources such as your phone, laptop, tablet, and TV at least an hour before bedtime.

4. Stress management: The ability to cope with and reduce the negative effects of stress is vital. Effective stress management techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing exercises, relaxation, and time management create better health outcomes.

5. Sunlight: Exposure to natural light affects our circadian rhythms and improves our mood and overall health. It helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which is important for bone health and supports our immune system. Spend time outdoors and allow sunlight to regulate your body’s internal clock. Try getting 10-30 minutes of direct sunlight when you first wake up in the morning.

6. Relationships/social connection: Meaningful social connections contribute to emotional and physical well-being. Building and maintaining positive relationships with family, friends, and community members contributes to emotional wellbeing. Loneliness and isolation can adversely affect our health.

Remember that these pillars are interconnected, and nurturing each one optimizes our health and vitality. I offer outpatient nutrition counseling and education services at Estes Park Health. If you are interested, contact your healthcare provider for a referral. If you have any questions or if there are any nutrition-related topics that you would like me to discuss here on Nutrition Notes, please reach out at