Basics of Health
For all the body’s miraculous complexity, its requirements are quite basic. The secret to health is simply making sure it has what it needs and if not dragged down by excesses it can’t handle.
The things we need are oxygen, water, the nutrients found in good foods, a team of helpful microorganisms, movement, rest (blog about sleep), sunshine, human contact and a spiritual connection.
Sunshine is an example of a fundamental need that is often overlooked. When exposed to sunlight, our skin creates vitamin D, a vitamin that acts as a hormone and affects nearly every cell in the body. Insufficient vitamin D (from for example working indoors, using sunscreen or having dark skin) is linked to everything from muscle weakness and depression to multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Another requirement too often ignored is that each of us is actually a community. There are trillions of bacteria in our bodies that are part of our health team…they are in fact required for life. To better appreciate them and to learn how to protect them, read about probiotics. Also see the page on Supplements for more on requirements. We are designed to be well. When we aren’t, the problem can usually be traced back to a lack of something we need or an excess of something that the body can’t handle.
Overloads: The body is prepared for reasonable challenges. Smoking is an example of a challenge that is NOT reasonable. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Tobacco smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals. Hundreds are toxic. About 70 can cause cancer.” Less obvious is the fact that even too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. See other threats on the page on Toxins.
Another overload that is just now being understood is that sitting too much is very hard on the body.
Those factors are all intertwined: For example, if we don’t have adequate nutrients, our detoxification systems are less able to handle the chemical load which contaminates our air, water and food supply. Conversely, if we are toxic, we will have trouble absorbing nutrients. If we get enough sleep, our immune systems work better and we are less likely to take antibiotics which will kill our friendly bacteria that do so many important jobs for us. Exercise builds cardiovascular health but also helps detoxify and improve mood. It may be intimidating to think of changing a lot of things at once, so check out the Goal of the Month Club.
Genetics: These days science and the media are all atwitter about the phenomenal amount of detail that we now have about our genetic makeup. Of course, our genes play an important role. However, while genetic testing may provide a useful heads up, the new knowledge can also frighten us into having unnecessary treatments. That is especially true if we don’t appreciate how much control we have over how our genes behave. A gene is basically a switch that turns on and off in response to its environmental triggers. I’ve heard it described this way: the gene is the bullet, but our daily choices (nutrition and toxins) pull the trigger. Natural methods can even turn off a damaging gene after it has once been activated. For example, a gene that controls cervical cancer can be stabilized with vitamin C. Some supplements (for example resveratrol) help repair DNA and affect cells in such a profound way that virtually all systems benefit.
Being aware: If you monitor your health status with appropriate testing, you can do a better job of staying healthy. Read the page on testing because many tests can be done at home for free. Our health is our most valuable possession but it didn’t come with an instruction manual. So, it seems like a good idea to at least have a repair manual. The pages on this website list a number of good books on certain topics. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine is a great general guide. And, know that there are big differences among approaches to the practice of medicine. See the pages Doctors, Dentists and the one called Quacks.
Being safe: Being healthy isn’t enough. You also have to stay safe. One huge threat to your safety and ours is distracted driving. Two studies showed that adults doubled their risk of crashing or a close call if they were dialing a cell phone. Please watch this video and share it with anyone you know who might be tempted to divert their eyes to their phone while driving.
Book: Fat Free Folly by Martie Whittekin, CCN
Copyright 2014 by Martie Whittekin, CCN