If you consciously consider how the field of medicine works today, you have to face the fact that it is not about keeping you healthy. Instead, it operates on trying to help you minimize the problems associated with illness and disease after they have already set in. There is palliative care of all sorts, such as medical procedures and surgeries, and drugs that are all aimed at reducing symptoms and discomfort without actually treating the root cause. This reductionist approach of modern medicine, however, that attempts to isolate problems to one part or factor and remove them from our awareness as quickly as possible misses the point. It does nothing to address our whole health, future wellbeing, and true healing. Instead, there are countless drug recalls, drug interactions, and adverse drug reactions, and a staggering number of accidental deaths.
According to Physicians for a National Health Program, “Each year more than 2 million serious adverse drug reactions occur in the United States, causing an estimated 100,000 deaths. Many safety problems emerge only after drugs have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.” It is one thing to use a drug for a life-threatening, acute, or emergency and quite another to use it chronically, the way most drugs are used by people today. In countries like the United States and New Zealand, pharmaceutical companies are allowed to advertise their products. If one becomes exposed to their ads, it is astounding to see that there is literally a pill today for everything. You are flooded with promises of how the drugs will alleviate this or that symptom while hoping that you don’t give much attention to the slew of potential side-effects, many of which can be worse than the initial symptom. The saddest part is that most people trust their healthcare providers to offer them proper care and treatment that consists of the safest and most effective options. What they get instead are prescription drugs that provide false security about one’s health, while they create all kinds of side-effects and drain people’s financial resources.
Hundreds of years ago, when the first remedies were made, they were derived most of the time from natural plant ingredients and given to actually heal, and not suppress, a condition or ailment. But that was then, and what we have now is very different. As science grew in arrogance and the medical industry grew in greed, synthetic compounds were created with questionable and often uncertain effects. Gone was the foundational approach of the first physicians whose primary objective was to do no harm. Gone was the concept of true healing, and out came the quick-fix approach that leaves us with a delusion of what true health is all about.
The most critical factors that directly create our health and wellbeing and have the MOST impact on our body’s healing ability were shoved aside and treated as an after-thought. These include our diet and food choices, amount and type of physical activity, quality and quantity of fresh air, water, and sleep in our lives, and the mental and emotional processing of our stresses and life experiences. After the post-war era, when the refined, processed, and convenience food industries set in, our health became more undermined than ever. The ads and marketing campaigns were clear that we should feel good, regardless if that came through sugar, fat, alcohol, or drugs. Illness was dismissed as a regular part of life, and the body’s natural balancing responses and healing ability were pushed out of our awareness.
A New Path Emerges
Finally, around the turn of the 21st century, as more and more people hit dead ends with their health and treatment choices, and became increasingly fed up with being chronically “sick and tired,” something began to change. An increasing amount of individuals started waking up and understanding the importance of taking accountability for their own health. The emergence of the internet made this all that much more possible. All of a sudden, a person could get not just one, but many other opinions about their health and treatment choices. Awareness was growing about our lifestyle choices and how these choices increase or decrease our risks of various health problems and diseases. We were no longer at the mercy of our doctors; we were becoming more empowered about our health and our options. Naturally, healthcare professionals became frustrated and irritated by their patients’ newfound questions and depth of knowledge, but this was a much-needed jolt for the entire medical profession that got too comfortable on its increasingly narrow path. Sure, the information one finds on the internet isn’t always factual or reliable, and I will be the first to point out that the amount of fear-mongering online is outrageously high, but at least people today have options and more choices to consider and ways to empower themselves.
If our path is to eat and drink whatever we want, not pay attention to how or when we move our body, neglect the importance of nature, fresh air, and the sun, while we drown ourselves in our work, digital entertainment, and the online world, then we cannot expect a path of health, protection, or prevention. If you do not grasp the importance of your emotional hygiene and tend to it appropriately, you cannot expect optimal health on a physical, mental, or emotional level. Everything is connected; all of your choices impact the quality of your life, all of your nourishment - physical, chemical, and digital - impacts your health, and all parts of your body affect each other. When we live without this awareness, we are not able to connect the dots between our actions and the resulting consequences we get in our lives. We delude ourselves into thinking that health and how we feel comes from outside of ourselves and is beyond our control when the very opposite is true. You are in charge of how you feel and how much you increase or decrease or can avoid the suffering associated with any illness altogether.
If you are on your path to improving your eating choices and lifestyle habits, then way to go! Every effort and every step in the right direction makes a difference. The point is to keep going and be consistent with your efforts for successful and sustainable outcomes. During this time, it is essential to be patient while you give your mind time to change and update its beliefs, and give your body time to initiate deep healing, cleansing, and re-balancing process. Remember, it took years to get you to the state you are in, be willing to give yourself at least months to initiate some of the foundational changes that are required by your mind and body. And don’t get offended or defensive either if someone tries to give you some advice or inspiration to help you on your path. For the sake of your wellbeing, try to keep your Ego mind out of your healing journey and be open to the insights and points of illumination that others may offer. In the end, you still get to decide what you will choose to do or not do and deem as the right thing for you at any given time.
The Path of Prevention
We’ve gone down the path of disease and disempowerment long enough. The time is now to wake up and make a choice about whether we choose the path of suffering and sickness or healing and prevention. Yes, it will take some discipline at first to start changing our thoughts and habits, but with time your new choices will become your new thoughts and habits. The best part is that these habits will be ones that help you rather than hurt you. As renowned holistic doctor Pam Popper shares, “you can invest now, or you can invest later.” The choice is yours, but there is no avoiding it. Either we invest in prevention and protection via our lifestyle choices in the present, or we invest in dealing with diseases and treatments in the future. The decision, again, is yours.
To conclude, here are five lifestyle choices that are the most important ones to pay attention to and put into action to ensure a path of prevention and wellbeing:
- Hydrate yourself with sufficient high-quality water. This means drinking enough pure water for your needs, factoring in your body size, sex, diet, activity levels, and environmental conditions. Don’t drink just for the sake of it or gulp huge amounts of water at once. Rather, spread out your water intake throughout the day, as needed, with the highest intake being first thing in the morning after you wake and before you consume any other drink or food. Rely on home water filters and safe well or spring water from the Earth as your top water choices, over any tap or bottled water.
- Nourish yourself with whole plant foods. These are the best foods for the human body because they offer superior protection, and have the most healing and prevention power that surpass any processed or refined plant foods or animal foods. The latter groups always provide more risks than benefits, aside from being a source of calories in times of malnourishment. This means that you create a diet that revolves around or consists solely of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole, unprocessed grains, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. The variety in these food groups and the types and kinds of meals that you can create with them are endless!
- Strengthen yourself with balanced physical activity. Both too little and too much exercise is harmful to us. Too much wears out our body prematurely, causes it stress and damage, creates elevated acidity, inflammation, and immune impairment, and can even lead to iron deficiency. Too little interferes with proper metabolism, bone and muscle formation, and maintenance, and puts us at increased risk of weight problems, heart disease, diabetes type 2, cancer, dementia, and other chronic diseases and states of inflammation. Find a way to move your body in ways that you enjoy daily. The most basic, natural, and beneficial form of movement for our human body is walking, but some flexibility exercises and strength-training exercises should be included as well.
- Enhance your wellbeing with time spent in nature. The importance of fresh air, which means outdoor air in areas that are not subject to extreme levels of pollution, is essential for proper health. Likewise, regular sun exposure without any chemical products on our skin in a smart and balanced way paves the way to good health and prevention. In general, the more time you spend in natural areas, like ones dense with trees, bodies of water, or rocks, and mountains, the more health benefits you reap on a physical, mental, and emotional level. Nature is healing in numerous ways for us and today helps us more than ever offset our sedentary, digital, and indoor lifestyles.
- Reduce your stress response and increase your coping abilities with meditation. In addition to all of the above, one of the most powerful and beneficial ways to nourish, strengthen, and enhance our wellbeing is by paying attention to our mental and emotional health. We cannot do this, however, if we are constantly busy, preoccupied, and externally focused. For effective psychological consolidation and release, our mind requires silence, reflection, and introspection that can be achieved through meditation. The meditation process need not be done in any one specific way. There are many forms of meditation, and the point is just to have some time for ourselves each day to turn our focus inward. This allows us to process our emotions, experiences, and life events in effective ways. It also provides us with the opportunity to become more self-aware and in charge of ourselves by learning how to take charge of our thoughts and emotions and use them in constructive, rather than destructive ways.
To your best health!