The topics of health and healing are commonly found in the media and in our daily conversations. As we all know, there is no shortage of books, articles, teachers, and doctors who tell us what we need to do to remain in optimal health. The problem is, they rarely agree with one another, which typically leaves us without a clear direction of what we might do to live the healthiest life possible.
Physicians pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, into humans of which they know nothing. –Voltaire
So how then, are we to know, what is true and accurate, and what to apply when it comes to health and healing? The first thing might be to figure out what works best for us. Next, it’s a good idea to consider looking for the rules commonly agreed upon between various sources. Another important thing is to consider the sources of our information. For example, it seems wiser to consider the input of that which has been proven to work more so than something that is new and untried. And we might think twice when it comes to a source that has a huge financial investment/gain in our following their advice and/or protocol. Lastly, it’s wise for us to be responsible for our choices, but one of these choices might be to consult with our health professionals.
One thing is certain, however, the concepts of health and healing, as found in the systems of holistic health, are tried and true and tend to have far fewer side-effects than what we find in modern medicine. Another thing that is certain is that holistic health encourages a healthy lifestyle as a preventative, rather than merely reacting to any signs of illness. This healthy lifestyle involves implementing at least a basic level of a healthy regimen, and the results are nearly always astounding.
What is Holistic Health?
Holistic (or whole-istic) and/or Natural Health is generally divided into three groups: Prevention, Maintenance, and Cure.
- Prevention means to live holistically enough to prevent imbalances from arising in the first place. It means maintaining a predominantly alkaline pH level, as well as a healthy balanced regimen of good diet, exercise, nutritional supplements and a stress-free lifestyle.
- Maintenance means that if ever we see ourselves slipping out of our healthy regimen, we shift back as soon as possible. Maintenance (such as that of a car) also means that we understand that no matter how much prevention we use, life still wears down certain parts that need attended to. This means we need to adjust to life’s changes (e.g. hormonally, etc.) and maintain the best health and fitness possible.
- Cure means that if/when there is any form of breakdown in our health or fitness, we would choose the most holistic approach possible to effect a cure—always knowing that there are times when we might even use allopathic approaches (e.g. broken bones, necessary surgeries, etc.). Cure also means to refrain from masking symptoms and instead actually evoking a shift in the condition.
Whatever category we may be addressing, to be truly referred to as “Holistic” (or Wholistic), it generally must fit the following criteria:
- The modality of prevention, maintenance, and/or cure utilizes things that are as natural, organic, and non-invasive as possible. This might include foods, herbs, fasting, nutrients, exercise, tinctures, or even massage, colonics, and acupuncture.
- The practitioner attempts to treat the client as one, whole, being—thus embracing the body, mind, and soul of the client. This might mean addressing our emotional state, genetics, energy-systems, core issues, or even our Ayurvedic constitution.
The Primary Rules of Good Health
The most essential topics to cover here are the ones that cross the borders of all forms of treatment (i.e. Prevention, Maintenance, and Cure)—as opposed to having a more limited application. So let’s simplify all the varying opinions and synthesize them into four simple (but essential) rules to follow:
#1 – Diet
The Best Diet for the Body: It’s all about Alkalinity
When we approach the topic of better health, the single most important goal (according to many) is to achieve and maintain an alkalized body. The body needs to be mostly alkaline (in its pH level), rather than acidic. Edgar Cayce (a popular clairvoyant and the person considered to be “the father of wholistic medicine”) was possibly the first major proponent of having a healthy, alkalized system. One of the ways we can achieve this is by centering the diet around alkaline-forming vegetables and fruits. This can improve metabolic function, maintain a high state of health, promote weight loss, and prevent colds, infections, and other illnesses.
Alkalizing foods are those that supply predominantly alkaline-forming minerals such as calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese. Again, most vegetables, fruits, herbal teas, and green food concentrates are in this category. Acidifying foods supply predominantly acid-forming minerals like copper, iodine, phosphorus, sulfur, and silicon. Meats, grains, fried foods, sugars, processed foods, and most fats and dairy products belong in this group. In fact, most of these are so destructive to the body that they actually rob the body of nutrients as they are metabolized.
Lifestyle factors also influence the body’s pH balance. Prayer and meditation, restful sleep, deep breathing, and aerobic exercise, pump alkaline-forming oxygen into the body. Stress, noise, environmental pollution, and lack of sleep and exercise all create acidic conditions and ultimately disease.
The Best Diet for the Soul: Healthy Thoughts, Words, and Deeds
Just as important as the foods and supplements we ingest, are the thoughts and attitudes that most consistently fill our minds. The body maintains a higher level of alkalinity through attitudes of love, peace, and forgiveness OR is made acidic through attitudes of stress, anger, and judgment. As Edgar Cayce once put it, “What you think plus what you eat make who you are.” Simply stated, love heals and hate kills. In other words, peace and love are the primary source of both the prevention, maintenance, and cure of disease. Fear and hate, on the other hand, are the primary source of stress, which is considered by most health professionals to be the number one cause of disease/illness.
#2 – Better Health Through Exercise
One of the best ways to increase our level of peace and balance is that of exercise. The best exercise is not any form of routine that involves pushing ourselves too hard nor making exercise into an addiction. In other words, more is definitely not better when it comes to exercise. Instead, it’s best to only do exercises that help us remain connected with ourselves—inside and out. In other words, for most people, walking is better than running. Therefore, some of the best forms of exercise involve slow movements, rather than fast, such as chi kung and yoga (to stretch and open up the body). Of course some faster moving exercises are also helpful for specific things, such as some form of cardio workout for 20 minutes minimum.
#3 – Therapeutic Modalities
The range of physical and emotional therapies is almost as numerous as that of supplements, and can range from internal therapies (e.g. colonics, chelation therapy, and violet ray apparatuses) to external therapies (e.g. massage, acupuncture, rolfing, craniosacral healing, myofascial release, reflexology, and herbal wraps). The purpose or goal of these modalities varies from one to another, but can include, cleansing the system, reducing stress, deepening relaxation, improving circulation, and supporting better elimination. And, although some of these modalities date back less than 100 years, many of them were practiced thousands of years ago.
#4 – Supplements
Generally, the term “supplements” refers to supplementing whatever we are not ingesting through or diet. The foods we buy today rarely have the nutrients they once did, which means supplements are turning into necessities. And besides the standard supplements of vitamins and minerals, it’s important to also recognize and honor our need for a regular intake of clean water (6-8 glasses of spring or filtered water but never within 15 minutes of a meal), fresh air (as often as possible), and sunlight (which is a primary source of nourishment for our pineal gland and energy-systems).
- Multivitamin/Mineral: Most practitioners of health now agree that everyone should find a good source for a multivitamin/mineral that includes the proper ratio for their particular needs (e.g. extra B vitamins or Iron, etc.)
- Ascorbates (which includes vitamin C, calcium, and other essential minerals): These alkalize our body, as well as combating and preventing many diseases. Ascorbates replenish valuable electrolytes and muscle minerals, and act as an anti-oxidant to fight free-radical damage.
- Protein (which includes essential amino acids): This nourishes and tones our muscles. Protein is also required for proper metabolic function and endocrine balance.
- Enzymes (usually only available in fresh, raw foods): These are important to assist with digestion and assimilation of food and therefore allows for the best absorption of nutrients.
- Omega Oil Complex (many say this should include Omega oils 3, 6, and 9): These are essential for boosting metabolism and burning stored fat. Also improves memory and is important for normal functioning of all the body’s tissues—especially in the brain.
- Other supplements that many health professionals believe are essential for most people include: DHEA—for the body’s rejuvenation, B-Complex—especially to combat the effects of stress, Probiotics—particularly for people who have had digestive problems or who have taken antibiotics.
A summary of the things that most people might consider to attain and maintain the most optimal health and wellness is as follows:
- The Best Diet for Body and Soul: Maintain an alkalized system—through a diet of alkalize-forming foods.
- Better Health through Exercise: Choose a balanced regimen of slow (e.g. yoga) and fast (e.g. cardio exercises) that can be practiced at least 5 days per week and for at least 30 minutes.
- Therapeutic Modalities: Make it a point to receive at least 1-2 sessions of therapy (e.g. body-work) per month.
- Supplements: Despite the seeming onslaught of information (usually conflicting) on supplements, don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed. Most people end up only needing a half-dozen supplements to fill most of their nutritional voids.
Important Note: Although you might choose to follow these four rules for optimal health, it’s wise to consult an experienced and reputable Naturopath (or other health professional) in your area to see what they recommend within these four areas.