What is health? What does it mean to you?
Dictionary.com states health as soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment. However, in America we seem to link health directly to a person’s physical appearance and strength and this couldn’t be further from the truth. Just because someone is thin or fits into a specific size jeans does not make them healthy. Usually, the opposite is true. People are killing themselves internally trying to achieve or maintain an unrealistic physical appearance because of unrealistic cultural and media expectations. Now, we all know that I am not a doctor, but I would like to share the platform of what I believe health is and how each of us can achieve optimum health.
In order to look at what health means, we need to first realize that we are individuals. We each have a set of parents who have their own DNA, toxicity, and health ailments they have passed down to us. For better or worse, it’s a fact. Before we were even born, our health had some pre-determining factors. It is important to realize this because this is what makes us amazingly unique. I didn’t quite understand this until I had my own children.
See, logically I knew people were different (duh!), but I didn’t truly understand how little control individuals have over their DNA and how this affects your baseline of health. I have three kiddos. My oldest looks like my husband in the face, but has my side’s body type. My youngest has my husband’s look and build. In fact, their feet are almost identical. My daughter looks like me in the face, but has my husband’s long legs, but my small feet. Physically speaking, my children can do very little to alter how their body’s were constructed. They can however make choices to improve or ruin their health.
To take this one step further, my mother and father have mercury fillings, (they were all the rage in the 70’s-80’s). Unbeknownst to them, the toxicity in the mercury was passed down to me. Just like my own children, I have to make choices on my health even if I cannot make choices on what has been handed down to me genetically speaking.
It’s important to understand and appreciate that we are all unique individuals. We will each react differently to the foods we put in our body, how we build muscle and burn fat, how we handle stress, and what happens to our hormones as we live through the day to day life and as we age. Everyone is different and they need to be treated as such. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach.
Before you begin any health program, it is important to talk to your doctor and get some baseline blood work. The scale is one of the worst ways to measure your progress. Make sure your doctor is treating you as an individual and not trying to fit you into a particular box because of government standards. If your doctor doesn’t understand bio-individuality, please find a doctor who will. You will achieve greater health when your practitioner understands your unique make-up and health needs.
Now that we all understand that we are different and will react differently to our environments, I want to introduce you to the basic foundation of all health and wellness.
The five areas, sometimes I call them pillars, you work in and between at all times are nutrition, hormones, exercise, brain and spinal function, and emotional well being. Through all four areas we make choices everyday. We either add to these areas of in a positive or negative way. How we move through these areas determines our day to day health.
Let’s take a quick look at each of them. In the posts to come, I will dig deeper and share more research in these areas.
Our body requires nutrients to function. The higher quality the nutrition, the better we will function. Some foods are nutrient dense, such as vegetables, eggs, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Other foods have very little nutritional value and hurt our bodies in different ways such as sugar, soda, alcohol, chemical additives, and high fructose corn syrup. Foods are not good or bad. They are just food. It is how our body responds and reacts to them which makes them important.
Hormones may play one of the strongest roles in our health. Doctors and scientists are just beginning to uncover and understand how the many hormones our body has interact with our foods, organs, and stress to affect our health. Some of these hormones include, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol. It isn’t enough to mention the hormones, but also the organs that control them. Your adrenals, pituitary, liver, kidneys, and pancreas do so much more than we give them credit for. As we all come to the table as individuals, it is important to know that the function of our hormones is unique to us all. It is important to ask your doctor to run a hormone panel on you as well as a baseline bloodwork panel.
There are so many different kinds of exercise! Each type of exercise is used for different reasons. Some of them include yoga, Piyo, and pilates for strength and flexibility. Running, swimming, biking, tabata, dancing, HITT, plyo are great for cardio. Lifting weights is what is needed for strength training and creating greater bone density. Each of these can be used exclusively or combined for greater effect and results. Exercise can be used as a tool to change how we look on the outside, on the inside, and our emotional well being. They way it is used can change from person to person and on a daily basis. Exercise is as ever changing as our hormones.
Brain and Spinal Function
Your brain and spinal cord are VITAL for your survival. I cannot not stress enough how important it is to have great “communication” between your brain, the spinal nerves, and the rest of your body.
We have been seeing chiropractors regularly for the last 10 years. The best analogy I can give you for having clear nerve pathways is this: If you have a garden and there is a watering hose weaving through the entire garden, you expect all your flowers to be in beautiful bloom. However, what happens when there is a kink in the hose and it isn’t fixed? The flowers in that area start to wither and die. Their fragrance or fruit isn’t as plentiful as the rest of your garden. In this analogy, the garden is your body and the hose is your neurological pathway connecting to your organ systems. If your organ systems cannot receive the correct information from the brain to function correctly, you will not perform at optimum health.
Emotional wellbeing is more than living a life without mental disorder. Emotional wellbeing can trigger various hormones in our body, mainly cortisol, which can affect our overall health. There has been a huge movement lately in “mindfulness” or being present in the moment to enjoy life and make decisions that are meaningful rather than “off the cuff.” Some people look at emotional well being through a lens of spirituality, meditation, emotional stability, and calm. Emotional wellbeing is as different for the individual as our DNA. What is important to understand is that it’s role in our health should never go unnoticed.
There they are. The five pillars to health. As time goes on, I will delve into each of these over and over again. It is important to know that individual health cannot be achieved without looking at all of these systems as a whole. The nutrition we provide our bodies directly relates to our hormones, emotional well being, and exercise. Each time we exercise we affect the hormones, spinal health, and nutrition. As our bodies age, hormones change and continually affect our nutrition, exercise, emotional well being, and spinal health. Have you noticed the pattern?
There is a lot of information here. My hope is to NEVER overwhelm you, but only to inform you. I am all about the baby steps. Those small sustainable steps that will make a huge impact over time. I am excited to have you on this journey with me as we strive for greater individual health.
What do you already know about your health? What would you like to know more about?