Healthy tips from Leonardo da Vinci

Recently I came across a short article, describing the wonderful artist, Leonardo da Vinci.  Although times have changed tremendously and our world is filled with electronics, electricity, and so on, maintaining a healthy lifestyle has not changed. I have written about healthy eating habits, exercising and general well-being before.  Today I decided to share, with you, the healthy tips from the artist himself.

  • Do not eat when you have no appetite; and dine lightly;
  • Chew your food well;
  • Whatever you are eating, should be well-cooked and of simple ingredients;
  • He who takes medicine is ill advised;
  • Beware of anger and stuffy air;
  • Stay standing a while after you have eaten;
  • Do not sleep at midday;
  • Mix your wine with water and take little sips at a time;
  • Never drink wine on an empty stomach, nor between meals;
  • Neither delay nor prolong your visit to the toilet;
  • If you exercise, let it not be too strenuous;
  • Do not lie on your back when you sleep;
  • Make sure you are well covered when you sleep;
  • Rest your head and keep your mind cheerful;
  • Avoid wantonness.

Here are my thoughts on Leonardo’s tips.  If you are unsure whether or not you are really hungry, then drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes.  If you are hungry, your stomach will let you know, but many times we are not really hungry; but thirsty.

Chewing your food well is important, because the saliva must mix with the food in order for it to be broken down and used, by the intestines.  When we don’t chew properly, we tend to feel bloated after a meal and/or uncomfortable.  Many Yogis believe that you should chew each bite 40 times! 

There is a saying: “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.”  Indeed, this is not always viable, as many households are out the whole day, thus dinner-time is the main meal of the day.  I think the best tip, that I can give here, is to eat dinner (if possible) before 20:00; preferably before 19:00.

Taking medicine…the jury is still out when it comes to traditional vs pharmaceutical medicines.  I do not want to step into a hornet’s nest, so to speak, but I am a firm believer in the natural, holistic medical practises.  Homeopathy, for example, don’t just treat the symptoms, but also the cause of the illness (allergy).  Many people are prescribed too many medicines without doctors checking to see if the medicines clash or not.  If you change your lifestyle, then you are halfway there.  However, there are certain illnesses that require medical intervention and that is ok.  As long as you know what the pros and cons are of the medicine, you should be fine.

Ahh yes; I have written blog posts re anger and how to get rid of it; not to carry it with you but to forgive and forget.  Too much anger is not only detrimental to your body, your health and your emotional state, but it can cause havoc in your everyday relationships as well.  Never go to bed angry; always clear the air if you were in a fight.  Otherwise, you will either have a bad night’s sleep (as it is stuck in your subconscious mind) or, what will you do if something happens and you don’t get the chance to apologize?  Then guilt follows and that is just as bad as anger.

There is a German saying, that says “after you have eaten, you must stand or walk a thousand steps.”  This is good advice, because it will help the digestive system to work at optimum level, especially if you had a big Sunday-lunch!  This, I believe, is also why Leonardo didn’t believe in taking a nap at midday.  It is better to go for a walk, or stand a while, after your lunch, for example, than to nap.  Why?  Because the body’s clock does certain things at certain times of the day.  In the daytime, for example, the body needs the food for energy to carry you through the day.  In the evening, when we (if possible) have lighter meals, then the body uses the food not just for energy, but to nourish the cells and organs.  If you do take a nap, try not to nap for more than 20 minutes.  A power-nap is 10 minutes and does wonders to “recharge your batteries.”

Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach – that is self-explanatory!  Mixing your wine with water?  Some will say yes, others no way!  However, drinking it slowly and not gulping it down, is, of course, far better and more polite.

When you need to go to the restroom, go.  Regular bowel movement is also important; listen to your body at all times.

Exercising:  strenuous or not strenuous?  I believe both form of exercise routines is good for you; the main thing to remember is to do what you can and, if you do have an injury, to be careful with certain exercises.  For example, if you have knee injuries or knee problems, rather walk, swim or bounce on a trampoline, instead of running.

Leonardo didn’t believe that it is good for you to sleep on your back.  Many people, however, do find it comfortable.  I personally prefer to sleep on my side; again, you choose what works for you.  And yes, do make sure you are well covered; especially during winter. It is important, as he believed, to “rest your head.”  Quiet the mind, let go of worries, stress and anything that is bothering you.  Meditate or have some quiet-time, before you close your eyes. 

Clearing the mind is important for a good night’s rest, otherwise you will wake up the next morning feeling as if you never slept.  At the end of each day, think of at least 5 things that you are grateful for.  Whether it is being grateful for what you have, or whether it is what happened during the day, always say thank you for what you have.  Being grateful for what you have will make you more positive and change your outlook in life.  It will also “rewire” your brain and make your mind more cheerful.

The last tip that Leonardo gave, was to avoid wantonness.  This, I believe, is self-explanatory, but very true.  Leonardo da Vinci lived in an interesting time of our history, although not always an easy time period. It was a time of renewal, which I believe, that we are heading to.  The above tips were written, by Leonardo, in 1515, four years before his death.  He was an artist, scientist, inventor, mathematician, engineer, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer.  A man before his time!

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