Today is World Health Day – a day started by the World Health Organization, or WHO, to celebrate health milestones that have advanced global health over the years. In honor of this day, we are sharing 5 things we think are vital to living healthy. Before we get to the list, it is probably important to define the word health.
The WHO states: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
The key here is the last part of the definition, “not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Many people only do things to improve their health if they have symptoms, and are experiencing things like pain, disease, or infirmity. They are taught that suppressing and eliminating their symptoms is the path to health. Once symptoms are gone, they believe they are all better and they stop doing the things that helped them get healthier.
The problem with this path is that pain shows up late in the symptom, sickness, and disease process. It is estimated that for most conditions, the first 80% of the process is actually symptom-free. Only after the body has exhausted all of its resources, does it then give pain signals to let us know that change must be made. Pain is the last thing that shows up before permanent damage starts to occur in the body. So, if someone only addresses their health when they are in pain, they are typically dealing with an issue that has been going on for a long time.
The perfect example as to why this is not a good approach to health is to look at the leading cause of death in the US. Heart disease is at the top of the list. 1 in 5 deaths in this country are from heart disease, and a person has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Over 70% of the time, the first symptom of heart disease is a fatal heart attack. We know that a person with heart disease does not go from perfect heart health, to imperfect heart health. It is a process that takes time to develop. Unfortunately in this situation, it can go undetected until someone has a life-ending incident and it is why heart disease is known as “the silent killer.”
No one would recommend to wait until you had a heart attack to start addressing your health. Yet, when it comes to pain, people have been taught to address it only once it shows up. Instead of living in this reactive way, we recommend a more proactive approach. You don’t have to be sick to get well and you don’t have to feel pain to do something good for your health. We would much rather see someone living to their full potential instead of on the verge of having a health issue.
Which brings us to our list. Here are 5 things you can do now for better health.
1. A Clear Nervous System – This is the chiropractic profession’s calling. As you probably know, your brain controls everything in your body through the 40 miles of nerve pathways inside of you. It is how you adapt to real-life stress, and how you function. The goal of chiropractic care is to keep your entire nervous system as clear and balanced as possible. This is necessary if you want your body to heal properly and feel good. Having your spine checked on a regular schedule keeps this system clear.
2. A Balanced Diet – You are what you eat. Garbage in = garbage out. If you want your body to function at a high level, then you must give it good-quality fuel. In general, we advise you stick to things that grow from the earth – lots of fruits and vegetables and lean meats. Avoid sugar, soda, and anything processed. You wouldn’t put unleaded fuel in a Ferrari and expect it to perform to its full potential, would you? A couple of great resources for better eating are The Obesity Code by Jason Fung and The Paleo Diet by Dr. Loren Cordain.
3. Daily Movement – The human body was designed to move and not be sedentary. If you enjoy exercise, stick with it. If you enjoy sports, play away. If you are not as keen on these things, even going for a daily 20-30 minute walk is enough to stimulate your body in a positive way. You can find stretching and/or yoga classes online. Movement helps the muscles contract and expand as they are designed to do, and we also need movement for the lymphatic system to clear out waste products. Just move in a way that you enjoy!
4. Get Enough Rest – On average we sleep between 6-8 hours a night. This is the time when your body should heal the most. Try to set a general schedule to make sure you get enough rest. If you wake up in the morning and don’t feel like you have had a good night’s rest, you should evaluate why that is. Is your bed supportive? Do you have a pillow that facilitates the proper curve in your neck? Should you go to bed earlier? Are you eating late-night snacks? There are many things to consider here. Watch the following video as Dr. Rick explains the importance of spine position when we sleep.
5. Stay Positive – There is a lot of current research which shows that having a positive mental outlook improves our health. A simple example is to try this: slouch over, cross your arms, and force the muscles of your face to create a frown. Now after holding this position for 10 seconds, be happy. It is not possible. Everything about your physiology vibrates lower emotions. Now, we don’t want to leave you like this, so stand up tall, stick your chest out an shoulders back, and smile as big as you possibly can. Hold for 10 seconds, and now be sad. Again, you can’t do it. You are vibrating higher emotions now. The more you can vibrate in the higher emotions, like happiness, joy, duty, love, kindness, patience, etc., the more you will facilitate health in your body. Stay positive! A great resource for this health habit is the book Rays of the Dawn, by Dr. Thurman Fleet.
We all experience varying degrees of physical, chemical, mental, and emotional stress on a daily basis. If stress runs rampant, health starts to decline – and as we discussed above, symptoms don’t show up for a while. How we respond to stress has a huge effect on the body. Your best bet is to eliminate the stress you know you can eliminate from your life. Obviously, it is not possible to eliminate all of it, so your next best option is to help the body adapt better to it.
The list we provided above helps your body function more optimally and closer to its full genetic potential. If your goal is to truly be healthy, then every day you should strive to do the things that help you better manage your life’s stresses. Don’t wait until you have a problem, just keep taking small steps in the right direction, and before you know it those small steps will lead to big strides in your health!
Happy World Health Day!