“Before you heal someone, ask him if he’s willing to give up the things that made him sick.” —Hippocrates
Health, like so many things, does not rely on a secret key that suddenly unlocks the pathway to success. We can’t have instant success, instant loyalty or trust, instant weight loss, or instant health. Success starts with a desire, a vision, and a plan. Success happens due to effort and perseverance. Great health is achieved with everyday decisions that will compound over time to produce results.
Attitude means being determined to make the everyday decisions that add up to great health. It is just as easy to do the right things, as it is to not do the right things. Eating that greasy cheeseburger and fries with a super-size soda is a choice – one that is not likely to kill you today, but compounded over time it will. Just as easy is to eat something healthy. Skipping exercise, again, is easy. So is making the choice to exercise. Great health starts with having the right attitude to make the right choices.
Nutrition is our first medicine. Avoid sugar, high-glycemic carbs, inflammatory trans-fats and hydrogenated oils. Stay away from overly processed, calorie-dense, nutrient poor foods. Be suspicious if food comes in a bag, box, can or jar. Avoid fried or charred foods. Don’t eat unfermented soy. Limit excess caffeine and alcohol. Eat at least 6 to 8 servings per day of fruits & vegetables. Include one green salad entrée daily with many colored vegetables. Berries are the best fruits. Include grains and legumes. Limit meat and focus on lean sources such as fish, venison, grass-finished meats and poultry – all containing more of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fat. Use healthier oils, such as coconut and olive oil. Snack on seeds and nuts. Drink plenty of water and remember green tea is an elixir of health. Practice mindful eating, taking time to stop, savor and enjoy. Seek a balance of food groups. Use a small plate to help with portion control. And stop eating before you are stuffed. It takes about 20 minutes for the mind to catch up with the stomach and we usually eat way more than necessary to be satisfied.
We are designed to exercise, period. Many hormones and enzymes in the body only work when stimulated by exercise. Some exercise is better than none. Strive to exercise every day. Ideally we should divide our efforts equally into working on flexibility, aerobic conditioning and strength training. Walking about 3 hours/week is a good start for aerobic. Yoga is one of my favorites for strength and flexibility. Cross training is a great way to get super fit.
More than simply not being awake, sleep is a very active process and is essential for great health. During stage 3-4 deep sleep our physical body rests and repairs, producing hormones such as growth hormone, sex hormones, and thyroid. During REM sleep our mental body awakens, refreshes and “reorganizes” for another day. Lots of things can interfere with sleep and there are insomnia treatments that can help.
Chronic stress is a killer. It fuels the stress hormone cortisol, which leads both directly and indirectly to consequences that promote disease. We can avoid some stressors, such as situations or people, but ultimately we have to learn to manage the unavoidable stressors in life. This means taking time every day to break the stress cycle – easily done with a few minutes of deep breathing or grounding activities such as mediation or yoga. Simply taking a casual stroll will lower cortisol levels. Good nutrition, exercise and sleep help with stress control.
A healthy gut is truly a foundation for great health. The intestinal tract has the most surface area and most exposure to the “outside” world. Nutrition, detoxification, and immunity begin in the gut. Get tested for delayed food allergies. Learn about the intestinal microbiome and the dysbiosis that occurs when the balance of good and bad bacteria are upset. Recognize and heal “leaky gut” syndrome.
Hundreds of chemicals invade our environment and our body leading to oxidative damage, inflammation and an overloaded detoxification system. Toxins are everywhere, found in personal care and home products, food, water and air. Don’t put anything on your skin you would not eat. Don’t smoke. Get tested for heavy metal accumulation and learn about simple foods and supplements that assist with detoxification. Regular cleanses are a good idea.
Most of us are not getting enough nutrients from our diet. Impaired gut health, toxic exposures, medication side effects, and even aging itself can lead to an increased need for certain supplements. We are learning about genetic mutations common to us all and for some enough to require increased amounts of certain nutrients. Seek a qualified practitioner that can help you avoid the “snake oil” and get on quality supplements.
Last, insure hormone balance and replace deficient hormones. The body is designed to run optimally when our hormone systems oversee every step. A predictable decline in hormone levels occur with aging and replacing them to youthful levels with natural bioidentical hormones will help prevent age-related disease and maintain quality of health. These are the simple keys to great health. Have an attitude that will guide you to eat right, exercise regularly, sleep well, and manage stress. Support healthy gut and detox systems. Seek a functional medical cure to the “root cause” of ailments as they arise instead of relying on prescription drugs that usually only mask the symptoms. Get professional help with supplements and hormone replacement.
Author Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the American Board of Family Practice and the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement for men and women, thyroid and adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia, weight loss and other complex medical conditions. He is founder and medical director of the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com) and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.com). Call (970) 245-6911 for an appointment or more information.