1. DRINK WATER. There is not a more important, or
inexpensive, endeavor physically than replenishing our bodies of clean
water. All of our systems require water to function optimally - our
cells bathe in it, wastes and nutrients flow because of it, our
detoxification systems rely on it, digestion is impaired without it. At
times chronic headaches and low back pain are related to water
deficiency. We are 80 % water in our physical makeup. Two litres per day
for most people is required; or take your weight in pounds, divide by 2
and drink that amount in ounces (e.g. a 150 lb woman would drink 75
ounces daily). I suggest avoidance of chlorinated drinking water.
Re-mineralized reverse osmosis is a good choice.
2. A SALAD A DAY.
At my clinic I routinely conduct a diet review with all new patients. I
consistently find, especially in patients that are chronically
fatigued, chronically pained and/or chronically constipated that, not
only is their water intake diminished, consumption of fresh fruits and
vegetables is much reduced. North American diets are horribly inundated
with refined, packaged, nutrient poor foods, white flour and refined
sugar. Eliminate these, and replace them with fiber, nutrient dense
leafy greens and other vegetables. For those that have a challenge with
gas and bloating from fruits and vegetables, a reasonable approach is
to start with steamed vegetables. A useful intervention is digestive
support, as with enzymes, during meals, and avoidance of food
3. CHOOSE ORGANIC. Organic food
has made its way into the marketplace for healthy reasons. Foods high
on the food chain concentrate chemicals and hormones in their tissues,
and yet we require many such foods for optimal nutrition balance. The
dominance of hormones in our food supply accumulates progressively in
our own tissues, leading to problems with reproductive tissue structure
and function, and ultimately to the worst kind of pathology: cancer.
Antibiotic use in livestock takes place at a huge cost to human health,
affecting bowel flora balance and contributing to reduced
effectiveness of antibiotics when required to fight life-threatening
infections (i.e. antibiotic resistance). Organic food has been shown to
possess 40% more nutrients than non-organic counterparts, since
chemicals negatively impact soil richness. In Canada, our largest
exposure to pesticides comes from our standard diet. One's greatest
defense against environmental toxicity in general is nutrients. Our
diets, therefore, must be sources of nutrients, not chemicals.
4. PAY ATTENTION TO SYMPTOMS.
Ignore, or worse suppress, symptoms at your own peril. Headaches,
bloating, gas, fatigue, muscle pain, frequent colds, skin rashes and so
on are all signs of an underlying disturbance calling out for
correction, not mere suppression. Track symptoms, listen to your body,
and learn to describe them in detail to a health provider who will
listen. The greatest amount of information about one's health comes not
from lab tests or scans, but from symptoms interpreted meaningfully.
5. BE KIND TO YOUR LIVER.
Sub-optimal liver function lies at the core of many medical symptoms.
It is an organ with multiple roles, from detoxification, to digestion,
to hormone metabolism, to regulator of circulation. Being kind to the
liver means avoiding undue exposure to chemicals, both in the diet and
around the household. It means paying attention to healthy intestinal
function, thereby reducing bowel toxicity and autointoxication. It means
using probiotics routinely, and other supplements, particularly
antioxidants and herbs, that are therapeutically supportive to liver
functions. It means understanding Eastern medicine concepts detailing
the liver as an emotional organ, and its connection to anger.
6. PRACTISE ACTIVE LIVING.
Exercise has innumerable health benefits, for mood and sleep, for
immune system strength, for cardiovascular function, for sweating and
detoxification. A sedentary lifestyle is a choice for chronic medical
conditions, and the options for inactive living are far too accessible.
Computers, television and video games, combined with unhealthy snack
foods and drinks, have assisted the development of our current pediatric
obesity epidemic. Over 50 % of adult Ontarians are overweight and
obesity is now recognized by experts as the second-leading preventable
cause of death after cigarette smoking. For most of us, overweight or
not, active living can also mean taking the stairs, raking the leaves,
parking further away, or not driving at all. It is time to get back to
active living, to get off the couch or desk chair, and to breathe some
fresh air outdoors.