“The key to creating health is figuring out the cause of the problem and then providing the right conditions for the body and soul to thrive. It isn’t taking another medication.” – Mark Hyman, M.D.
Modern solutions to illness and disease are treating the surface, rather than resolving the root problems. In particular, as a society we know how to eradicate many chronic illnesses, which would not only alleviate overburdened healthcare systems but would also create new possibilities for human potential to contribute skills, innovation, and ideas to the global economy. Education is key from instilling knowledge early to toddlers to teaching how to change behavior and habits to adults.
Learning how to cook is the beginning to kitchen skills; however, learning how to cook certain foods in accord with retaining and maximizing its nutrients for the mind’s and body’s nourishment makes the difference between eating for survival and eating to thrive. For example, if broccoli crowns are boiled, then they lose most of their nutrients as demonstrated through the green water that is drained afterward. If instead broccoli is steamed, then they retain more of their nutrients. Some vegetables hold their nutrients best when eaten raw; others require certain cooking methods, whether boiling, steaming, or roasting to activate all of its nutrient supply.
Knowing what to consume and what to avoid is just as important to understanding how the right nutrition leads to the right overall health and wellness, since food affects more than just the physical body; food influences mental well-being such as anxiety and depression too. First, the more a food item is in its natural state, then the healthier, so vegetables and fruits are examples. When packaging is present as well as nutrition labels (notice vegetables, fruits, and meats do not have nutrition labels), one must not let manufacturing companies lie to us regarding the nutritional value of their products and get away with it, which is why power of the purse and in this case abstention can usher change in the food industry.
The 3 major culprits leading to obesity, heart disease, and premature death are fat, sodium, and sugar. Trans fats and saturated fats are the unhealthy fats, whereas monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (not containing saturated fat) fats are good fats, which are found in nuts and avocados for example. The more sodium content a food item has and is consumed, then the more water retentive an individual is, which causes weight gain. More importantly heightened dietary salt intake wreaks havoc on blood pressure. As for sugar, it is the only line-item under the nutrition facts that omits its daily value percentage. The reason is undeniably attributed to its harmful reach on the entire physiological system. Then, as far as reading the ingredients list, an easy rule to abide by is if it is difficult to pronounce, then avoid it. Also, manufacturers found giving fat, sodium, and sugar ingredients different names in order to list them further down the ingredients list as means to show its lesser use as a loophole to FDA regulations. However, combine all the different names of sugar in a product’s ingredients list, and the truth is sugar should be listed as the first and most used ingredient on the ingredient’s list.
In addition to mastering nutrition, other ingredients such as water, sleep, and low stress tolerance are also part of integrated health and wellness. Briefly, altruism contributes to health too, since it is found to trigger the same neurological response that sugar delivers. Meditation practice influences our nervous system too and aids in relaxation, focus, and clarity. Then, mobilizing the imagination for creative play also balances and increases our health. The ultimate ingredient for health and wellness, arguably of course, is love, community, and faith or the objects that animate an individual’s living experience. Feeling connected to others, feeling connected to something greater than oneself, or both are ingredients for transformation and growth. Medical doctors derived from spiritual shamans and monk Bodhisattvas, which both had spiritual healing as part of their practice’s foundation. Spiritual healing occurs by working on oneself in search for truth, which can emerge into articulation by defining meaning and purpose to one’s life.
The first step toward eliminating illness and disease is to recognize that its missing presence is not indicative of its corollary: robust health. Many individuals are not sick daily; yet, they are also not healthy in all aspects of their life: physical, mental, social, emotional, intellectual, financial, environmental, and others. Thus, in order to join the movement toward all encompassing health and wellness, one must begin with changing our consciousness from the antiquated model of a science of intervention and disease to a science of prevention and health and well-being.
“The part can never be well unless the whole is well.” Plato