As I enter mid-life, I can now say that I have spent most of my life learning about health — how a body becomes diseased and degenerated; and how it can be made to resist becoming diseased and degenerated.
My learning is from formal training (Doctor of Chiropractic degree), numerous seminars, clinical experience in private practice, reading medical journals, subscribing to “natural” health authority sites, and sometimes trial and error. When you are in a field for this long, all the bits of information come into focus.
Here is what optimal health basically boils down to:
#1 – Mindset: All the knowledge in the world can be of no use if you do not have the right mindset to get healthy. We humans are a product of a lifetime of environmental programming. We tend to cling to routines that we are comfortable with. We even tend to adopt the mannerisms of those who we hang out with the most. So if one is unable to break free of health-destroying habits, then the battle is lost. In order to open the door to optimal health, one must find a way to change his or her mindset and replace unhealthy habits with healthy ones.
#2 – Nutrition: It’s simple: Out of all the things you can do to influence your health, the food you choose to eat has the strongest influence, hands down (if you don’t include stopping tobacco and alcohol habits). You’ve got to make whole, naturally-occurring, unadulterated food staples form the bulk of your diet in order to achieve optimal health. If it needs a food label to identify “ingredients,” then it doesn’t meet the definition.
#3 – Movement: Our bodies were designed to move, not sit. We are bi-pedal with long legs, compared to other mammals. This means lots of walking, and occasionally running. Movement strengthens our musculoskeletal system. It burns body fat. It improves cardiovascular fitness. So, if you don’t have a physically demanding job that involves using your whole body, you’ll need to exercise regularly to make up for it.
#4 – Rest: Humans need 6-8 hours of sleep per day. It helps maintain a good circadian rhythm. It makes it easier for your body to regenerate itself. It gives your organs well-needed rest.
#5 – Social Well-Being: We are also social creatures who benefit from contact with other humans. Being isolated and not being able to communicate with others can have a detrimental effect on mental health. Recall how it feels when someone puts their hand on your shoulder as a genuine gesture of support. Or when you had a long day, and get a hug from someone. It’s energizing.
That’s about it; everything else is secondary. Satisfy all five of these pillars of health, and you may not have to visit a doctor for decades. Seriously!