What are some of the most important things you can do for your health?
Many people, including some doctors, would say that having regular medical checkups and taking medications as prescribed are crucial to health. However, these measures only help to detect and manage existing disease. Medicine is not health care, it is sick care. Food and lifestyle choices are health care. What are some things you can do to attain, regain, and maintain health in the first place?
The keys to health are avoiding that which is bad and taking in and doing more of that which is good. The bad things are toxins of various kinds, and the good things are nutrients as well as such things as sleep and exercise. Diet is the source of almost all nutrients and some toxins, so diet is one of the most important aspects of true health care.
Food doesn’t just contain calories, it contains information and instructions to your body. Some foods heal, some harm, some boost or suppress metabolism, and some are addictive. Choose wisely.
Diet and disease
Doctors are starting to recognize the importance of diet in the development and treatment of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. As time goes on, the connection between health, other diseases, and diet will likely become better known and more accepted.
About the only category of illness that doesn’t appear to be related to nutrition seems to be genetic disease. However, much of what looks genetic, since the person had the illness from birth, can be attributed to poor maternal nutrition. And even with a disease that’s clearly genetic, good nutrition can optimize health to the greatest extent possible. And what about infectious diseases such as colds? Some people exposed to a cold will get it, some won’t, and some will not only get it but develop complications. The difference is the overall health of the body and immune system, which leads us back to diet.
If you want to build or repair a house, you must have building materials. All the labor in the world won’t help without the materials, and the quality of the materials is just as important as their existence in the first place. The same is true of your body: you must have building blocks to make the cells, tissues, and organs, and to have them function properly. And as with building a house, quality is important. Although pretty much anything with calories along with air and water will sustain life, quality food and nutrients are much more likely to lead to a healthful quality life.
Increase the good
What kinds of foods are best? Both the categories of food and the types of food within the categories are important. The main kinds of food that are beneficial are fresh living vegetables, whole non-gluten grains, and meat and eggs or their vegetarian protein equivalents. Some dairy products such as real unsweetened yogurt with bacterial cultures, cheese, and fruit are also in the beneficial category, although not everyone can tolerate them.
Organic food, although it usually costs more than its conventional counterparts, is well worth it. Organic produce, meat, eggs, and grains contain more nutrients and fewer toxins than conventional. If food isn’t organic it should at least be non-GMO (genetically modified organisms). Meat, eggs, and dairy should be from facilities that allow the animals to be free-range and grass-fed.
If you have any existing health challenges, you may need more nutrients than even good quality food can provide. Nutrient supplements can help you get caught up on your nutritional needs and will help you towards your goal of optimum health.
Decrease the bad
Certain food components should be eliminated or at least reduced. These include the so-called white foods: sugar and high fructose corn syrup especially, flour, bread, pasta, and white rice, along with corn and soy. Fried foods and those with rancid oils, as well as margarine, should also be removed from the diet. Become an avid label reader and avoid additives, which is pretty much anything on the label that isn’t recognizable as healthy food. If you wouldn’t have jars of disodium inosinate, propyl gallate, potassium sorbate, or carrageenan in your pantry, you shouldn’t have these things in your food and your body either. Avoid artificial colors, bleaches, flavors, textures, softeners, waxes, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners.
The detox diet is a good start
The detox diet or cleanse, promoted at CAM and described in the book Detox or Disease, is a great way to start a new program of eating more healthfully. The diet is nutrient-dense but limited, which is why it’s intended for eight days only, with fresh vegetables and whole grains as well as oils and nutrient supplements. In addition to providing beneficial nutrition, the diet also eliminates the toxins: those things listed above as well as foods that are most likely to be allergenic or contribute to health issues such as arthritis. After the eight days, a maintenance diet that increases the variety of allowed foods with an emphasis on quality can be followed indefinitely.
But what kind of diet is best?
There is no one best one-size-fits-all diet or nutrient supplementation regimen. The best thing to do is to get advice tailored to your specific situation and health needs. Practitioners and nutritionists at CAM can help you do that.