About

Hi!

We are Ana and Christoph, two scientists  passionate about a healthy and natural lifestyle!

In Living in Natural Harmony, we share information about healthy lifestyle topics as well as our original recipes. We want to spread this so important information to help people keep or achieve health, while caring about the environment. We really believe that, if truly implemented, lifestyle changes can make a huge difference in people’s lives by preventing and overcoming certain diseases. Because we are scientists, it is very important for us that all our articles are based on scientific facts (you will find the references in the end of each article), but at the same time we provide this information in an easy way accessible for everyone to read!

 

Ana Coito, PhD

I hold a PhD in Neuroscience from the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, an MSc and BSc in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and a CAS in Nutrition for Disease Prevention and Health from the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Switzerland. I am currently undergoing a Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching course.

I have been very much interested and passionate about everything concerning nutrition, healthy lifestyle and natural medicine for almost 7 years now. I have been reading many books and scientific articles about these topics and implementing what I have been learning in my daily life. I want now to share with the world this important information! I consider healthy eating a very important topic and the basis of our health. In fact, I have been seeing that my health has really improved since I eat real food. But my interest on Natural Medicine goes beyond nutrition. I do also believe that other factors play a role in maintaining or achieving health, namely stress management techniques, exercise, a good quality of sleep and trying to minimize exposure to toxins (at least the things we can control). For instance, I realized that many body care products that we put everyday on our bodies contain aluminum, parabens, phthalates, plastics and many other chemicals and metals, which are toxic for both us and the environment. So, I decided to stop using them and for the past few years I have been making my own body care products, such as toothpaste, deodorant and body creams, using only natural products (which, besides being healthier for me and the environment, they are also much cheaper).

 

Christoph Hofstetter, PhD

I hold a PhD in Neuroscience from the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, an MSc and BSc degrees in Biology from the ETH Zurich, Switzerland. Currently, I am studying for a second MSc degree in agronomy at ETH Zurich.

I have always been fascinated about nature, life and health. During my studies of memory and emotion for my Neuroscience degree, my interest for health-related topics grew stronger. One important aspect of it was food. Having been a vegetarian for many years, I was already conscious to some extent about what I was eating. However, reading about raw food opened a whole new world for me. My passion for healthy food ultimately led me back to plants, and to questions about how our food is produced. I came in contact with the concept of permaculture, a way of thinking in sustainable ways for agricultural production and with an emphasis for the care of our Earth. This interest in our food led me to study agronomy to better understand current strategies for food production in order to find sustainable ways to produce healthy food. I like to think in a holistic way, finding optimal solutions, seen from many different angles. Besides Neuroscience and Nature, I am also interested in spirituality as well as physical exercise. I think that in order to be balanced in life, many factors are important to be included in our lives. Since a healthy body and mind are both very much dependent on healthy eating, which in turn depends on how the food is produced, as well as on emotional and stress management techniques, we decided to incorporate our knowledge together in the same blog  as a complete package for a natural, healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Previous Contributors: Marjan Biria, MSc

I studied psychology during my BSc years, followed by an MSc in Neuroscience. I always loved people and wanted to make them feel better. That was my main motivation for starting a BSc in psychology, because I wanted to help people overcome their mental and emotional issues. At the end of my BSc, I realized I could solve the problem more profoundly if I only knew how these bad things happen to some people in the first place and what happens in their brain that leads to such negative outcomes.

During my spare time, I do a lot of research about the part of neuroscience and psychology that deals with the power of our mind and the things we can change about ourselves by training our brain. I have done a lot of research about the effect of meditation and all the things we can do to help us have a healthier and happier life. I have traveled to many countries in different continents and for some reason the majority of people I have met did feel comfortable enough to open up their heart to me and I am grateful for that. I have talked to people from different races, ages, and social economic background. I am amazed how similar we all are in terms of our basic needs and we all tend to forget that. We are all in pursuit of a better, happier and safer life and the only different factor is the means that we use to get there.

My participation in this blog did involve posts that shared these experiences with you. However, I have recently started a PhD in Neuroscience and unfortunately I won’t have enough time to contribute to the blog anymore.

Why have we started this blog?

We know that physical and mental health can be achieved and maintained by taking care of many lifestyle aspects. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about natural health approaches in general. Many consider them as “alternative” or “not scientific”. Well, this is simply not true: literally thousands of studies have been performed about the benefits of a healthy nutrition, exercise or meditation.

Virtually everybody has already understood that something has to change. We are polluting the environment and ourselves, while getting distant from our roots. We are becoming sicker and getting the so-called “civilization diseases” that used to be either non-existent or much less prevalent. And the way we are living nowadays is not sustainable anymore. We see all kinds of products which are not only unnecessary, but they also damage our health and the environment. And for many of these products, there really are many healthier and environmental-friendly alternatives.

We have heard many times people saying “but actually, life expectancy is rising”. Well 1) this is not true anymore, life expectancy is now actually decreasing in the United States of America [1] and 2) even if it is true in other industrialized countries, what quality of life do we really have? Living longer than our ancestors but with diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, depression and other disabilities, is not really what people aim for. One thing that we already have heard is “because we live longer, we now have all these diseases that our ancestors didn’t have, they just didn’t reach our age”. If it is so, how is it possible that these diseases are showing up in younger and younger people, even in kids?!!! Do you really believe it is because people grow older now?! We don’t.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the leading causes of death in 2015 worldwide were [2]: heart disease, stroke, lower chronic respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease… the so-called “civilization diseases”. Can they, at least in most of the cases, be prevented by lifestyle changes? Most likely.  Many people think “oh, I just got bad genes”. This is not true. Genes can be turned off and on by environmental triggers (if they are not turned on, you will never get the disease). This is called epigenetics. For example, it has been found out and published in one of the most renowned scientific journals, Nature, that cancer risk is heavily influenced by environmental factors (90%),  while genetic factors contribute little (10%) to cancer development [3]. Why is this good news? Because it means that you actually have a high probability of preventing cancer by lifestyle changes!!

There is currently the mindset “I got the disease, I go to the doctor, he/she prescribes me a pill, and I will be fine”. In fact, in the case of acute diseases, drugs can be lifesaving (for example, in the case of an acute allergy). However, in the case of many chronic diseases, the use of drugs can lead to the disappearance of some of the symptoms or to the “control” of the disease, but rarely to the cure (therefore, it is called “chronic disease”), because the root cause was not addressed. And many times, you get other health problems due to the side effects of the drugs, and sometimes you might even take other drugs for minimizing the side effects of the other pills that you are taking.

Natural Medicine aims to find the root cause of chronic diseases, considering the body as a whole. When you treat the real root cause, the symptoms of all diseases will consequently disappear. We believe that in order to prevent and overcome many chronic diseases, and achieve a higher wellbeing, it is very important to take natural medicine approaches into account, which involve lifestyle changes, including primarily (but not only):

– eating real food. Change your diet, eat real food free of toxins (organic vegetables and fruits) and you will improve your health. Did you know that Hippocrates, the father of Medicine, said:

Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food

– being more active: at least moderate exercise every day (such as walking) is very important.

If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” Hippocrates

– sleep – among many other benefits, during sleep you are detoxifying your body.

– emotional and stress management techniques, such as meditation, relaxation and engaging in activities that you enjoy.

– minimize toxin exposure and consider certain detoxification methods (our body already naturally detoxifies when you provide it with real food and other healthy lifestyle habits, but sometimes the burden of toxins is so heavy that it needs help – and we are not talking about those “miracle detox” products you see in the shops).

– taking care of your gut health (the gut microbiota has been linked to almost every disease)

– spices, herbs and essential oils.

It is of course much easier to take a pill than changing our whole lifestyle. But if we want to live healthier, and most likely to an old age, that’s what we should do. We have to reconnect to Nature, because we are from Nature! We want to let you know that it is still possible in our modern and busy world to achieve this. We hope that our posts will inspire you to become healthier and happier while caring about the environment! We should all take the responsibility of caring for ourselves, the environment and our future generations.

Also, we must realize that each time we go shopping, we are voting. Anything we buy is a vote for the good or for the bad. If there are a lot of “votes” for sustainable lifestyle choices, it is certain that things start to change. A very good example is the fact that organic farming has been growing a lot in the past few years as a result of people’s demands for organic vegetables and fruits.

For us, implementing the lifestyle aspects mentioned above in our life has been a real journey. We continue to get informed, read and try to implement what we have been finding in our personal lives. Every day is a new and interesting discovery.

Now we have reached a point that we do not want to just do research and keep the information for ourselves. We actually want to do something about it. Therefore, we decided to create this blog. We want to raise awareness and spread important and interesting information about natural lifestyle and health-related topics in order to help people improving their quality of life while caring about the surrounding environment. As scientists, it is important for us to provide the scientific evidence of what we are writing. In the topics covered in this blog, we review the scientific literature, summarize what we have learnt and try to write in a way that is easy to understand by everyone. You will see that these natural lifestyle / natural medicine topics are very much backed-up by science.

 

For every topic, you get all the sources and references so that you can read further and get more informed about that particular topic.

We would like to emphasize that the information on this blog is supposed to be only suggestions for improving your health and wellbeing. They do not aim to replace your doctor’s advice.

All posts are available in four languages: English, Portuguese and German.

For us, this is a very important project, and we truly hope it does make a difference in people’s lives. We are doing the best we can to provide you with the best information about each topic. We hope that you will like the blog and that it will somehow help you and the ones you love 🙂

Please help us spreading this information by sharing our posts, as it can change someone’s life! 🙂

And you are very much invited to comment below each post!

Thank you so much for reading and sharing!

Live healthy and happy 🙂

 

References

[1]     https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db267.htm

[2]     http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/

[3]     Wu S, Powers S, Zhu W, Hannun YA. Substantial contribution of extrinsic risk factors to cancer development. Nature (2016). 529(7584):43-7.