A Healthy Life Starts With What You Know.
What is the only thing you will possess from birth until death?
We often overlook our own bodies, taking them for granted until it is too late. How healthy you are - the expression of the health of your body - will allow you to have a healthy, active life, or force you to succumb to aging and inability to do what you want to do sooner than you would like. I once read that it is easier to maintain your health than try to get it back when it's gone. I believe that. I try to live by that ideology daily.
Now, when I say I try to live by that ideology, it does not mean denying yourself of some of life's pleasures. I eat well...most of the time. I flat out refuse to be one of those people that nobody wants to have over for dinner because they are a "fussy eater" who has to eat only raw, organic, vegan, wheat free, sugar free, dairy free foods. I like food a lot. Food and I go way back. My mother was a home-economics teacher, she still loves cooking. I was fortunate to grow up eating meals prepared from fresh ingredients. I'm trying to impart the same experience on my own kids. There are foods I do try to avoid due to how my body feels when I eat them, and there are foods I avoid due to how they are made and processed. I have read and researched pretty extensively to come to these decisions. The only thing I wish is that I had known what I do now much earlier in life.
Food is to be enjoyed, not abused. Our bodies are a representation of what goes in our mouths every day. How healthy we are is a reflection of how we cope with the foods we consume. Every food either provides nutrients that help us thrive, or toxins that can make us ill. The hard thing is this: we don't eat something and immediately know if it's bad or good. Our bodies cope incredibly well with what we consume, cleaning up the toxins pretty efficiently. Until it can't any longer. When the cells of our bodies are so heavily taxed by work load to clean up the toxins we ingest (and get from the environment, our cleaners, plastics, breathe in, etc) we start to see and feel symptoms of illness.
There is a great area of study called "Epigenetics" that addresses this exact thing. It simply states that we - as a living animal - are genetically expressing our genes in response to the environment. That environment is also within each living cell in our body. The argument that our poor genetics are responsible for the skyrocketing illness rates of this generation is absurd. Our genetics have not changed over the past 100 years, or 1000, or 10,000 years. What has changed is lifestyle. We eat less raw foods, more processed, eat more sugar, less good fats, exercise less, sit more, breathe in more pollution, less fresh air. We are making ourselves sick. Our health is not due to a lack of medications. In fact, we are sicker as a species of animal than ever before in history, but being kept alive artificially by drugs as we continue to suffer illness.
How epigenetics works is this: toxicity has to be cleaned up, which requires more work by our cells to read from our DNA and transcribe that coding to make more proteins and enzymes to clean up the toxins. That extra work over a half a lifetime means more wear and tear on the genes, leading to earlier transcription errors. Those errors lead to illness, because the cells are no longer able to do what they are designed to do. They become ill, and we start to show symptoms of illness.
However, there is a solution.
We need to limit the toxins that enter our bodies. It's almost impossible to completely avoid every toxin, even if you went to live with the Amish. We need to decrease the stressors that we come into contact with, and the best way to do this is to eat better. Processed and preserved means additives and chemicals. We are intended, just like every other animal on the planet, to eat foods made from raw goods. I agree, cooking makes it so much better, so when I say raw, I mean does not come out of a plastic wrapper, bag or box: food in it's natural state.
Humans are designed to move. It's a black and white discussion here. We have joints, bones, muscles that are designed such that we can move. Sitting has become the new smoking. In fact, as I'm tying, I am standing at a standing work station to avoid sitting. This does not mean you have to run 10k's or go to the gym every day. Some people love exercise, some don't. That's okay. Just walking 30 minutes a day is all it takes. Gardening, mowing your lawn, shoveling snow, even using the stairs at work more often counts. Some light body weight exercise a couple times a week like push ups, crunches and squats will help you maintain your mobility. And of course, get adjusted by your chiropractor regularly! each and EVERY joint in your body is designed to move in a certain way. When it does not move as it is designed, we alter more than just the mechanics of one joint, as we start to accommodate to lack of mobility and create new habits that can lead us into future injury. I could go on about this for a while, but I'll save that for another time. Let's just stick to the obvious: movement is necessary.
The other important item to live a life of wellness is your relationships. We are designed to have healthy supporting family, friends and community around us which contributes to our lives, and to which we also contribute. Unhealthy relationships are a cause of stress, and stress - irregardless of source - leads to physiological adaptation and potential future illness if left unchecked. Keep your good friends and family close. Look for the good in people, find positive things you can do on a daily basis that make you feel better.