Continuing on from last month’s column, let’s look at three more foundational pieces that are essential to not only feeling well, but truly being well and healthy.
Elements of a strong foundation #4: Reaching and maintaining an ideal weight.
More people around the world are obese than ever before; it is a major health concern affecting men and women alike, regardless of age or socio-economic status. Obesity poses a huge public health problem with excess body fat contributing to an array of medical conditions. Not reaching and maintaining a healthy weight for your height can greatly increase the risk of contracting conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, gallstones, problems during normal hormonal transition and a host of other issues including anxiety and depression. Gentle and consistent progress towards this foundational piece provides a heap of prevention and a mound of wellness.
Elements of a strong foundation #5. Self awareness and attitude
How people think about their health, the beliefs they hold to be true, and their general attitude towards life has a tremendous impact on their overall health and the success of their endeavors. A study in the August 2002 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports that people who expect misfortune and who only see the darker side of life don't live as long as those with a more optimistic view. Researchers evaluated results from a personality test taken by participants more than 30 years ago and compared them to subsequent mortality rates. They found that people who scored high on optimism had a 50 percent lower risk of premature death than those who scored more pessimistic.
Besides a lowered risk of early death, researchers found other health benefits related to positive attitude. In the study, optimists reported fewer problems with work or other daily activities because of physical or emotional health, less pain and fewer limitations due to pain, less interference from physical or emotional problems when engaging in social activities, increased energy and feeling more peaceful, happier and calmer. This is an area that is important for us to deeply understand. Dr. Joe Pizzorno in the 2006 version of Textbook of Natural Medicine suggests “Regardless of the situation, asking better questions is bound to improve one's attitude.
Some examples of questions that can improve attitude and self-esteem when asked regularly are as follows: "What am I most happy about in my life right now?"; "What am I most excited about in my life right now?"; "What am I most grateful about in my life right now?"; "What am I enjoying most in my life right now?"; "What am I committed to in my life right now?"; "Who do I love? Who loves me?" and "What must I do today to achieve my long-term goal?" Ask yourself who you are and each day, wake up just a little more towards your healthy self!
Elements of a strong foundation #6: Quantity and quality of sleep
Adequate sleep is definitely important for long term health and the prevention of disease. Sleep is that place where parasympathetic activity reigns supreme and the body gets an inexpensive and totally available chance to rest, relax and repair. Sleep stimulates the growth hormone which regulates tissue regeneration, muscle building, breakdown of fat stores, normalization of blood sugar regulation, and a whole host of other functions in the body. It functions as an antioxidant for the brain as it is required to ensure minimal neuronal damage from free radicals accumulated during waking. It is fundamentally essential to health and our regular assessment and education of how important it is that this area of a person’s life leads to a continued prevention.
I have these 6 elements of a strong foundation listed on a PowerPoint slide presentation when I lecture. I ask the participants to cut this particular slide out and hang in somewhere where they can view it every day. With any health desire, issue or goal it is important to see where the “cracks” in the foundation are before building upwards by investing in supplements, modalities, or diets to ail what might be getting one’s attention.