2. A SALAD A DAY. At my clinic I routinely conduct a diet review with all new patients. I consistently find, especially in patients that are chronically fatigued, chronically pained and/or chronically constipated that, not only is their water intake diminished, consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is much reduced. North American diets are horribly inundated with refined, packaged, nutrient poor foods, white flour and refined sugar. Eliminate these, and replace them with fiber, nutrient dense leafy greens and other vegetables. For those that have a challenge with gas and bloating from fruits and vegetables, a reasonable approach is to start with steamed vegetables. A useful intervention is digestive support, as with enzymes, during meals, and avoidance of food sensitivities.
3. CHOOSE ORGANIC. Organic food has made its way into the marketplace for healthy reasons. Foods high on the food chain concentrate chemicals and hormones in their tissues, and yet we require many such foods for optimal nutrition balance. The dominance of hormones in our food supply accumulates progressively in our own tissues, leading to problems with reproductive tissue structure and function, and ultimately to the worst kind of pathology: cancer. Antibiotic use in livestock takes place at a huge cost to human health, affecting bowel flora balance and contributing to reduced effectiveness of antibiotics when required to fight life-threatening infections (i.e. antibiotic resistance). Organic food has been shown to possess 40% more nutrients than non-organic counterparts, since chemicals negatively impact soil richness. In Canada, our largest exposure to pesticides comes from our standard diet. One’s greatest defense against environmental toxicity in general is nutrients. Our diets, therefore, must be sources of nutrients, not chemicals.
4. PAY ATTENTION TO SYMPTOMS. Ignore, or worse suppress, symptoms at your own peril. Headaches, bloating, gas, fatigue, muscle pain, frequent colds, skin rashes and so on are all signs of an underlying disturbance calling out for correction, not mere suppression. Track symptoms, listen to your body, and learn to describe them in detail to a health provider who will listen. The greatest amount of information about one’s health comes not from lab tests or scans, but from symptoms interpreted meaningfully.
5. BE KIND TO YOUR LIVER. Sub-optimal liver function lies at the core of many medical symptoms. It is an organ with multiple roles, from detoxification, to digestion, to hormone metabolism, to regulator of circulation. Being kind to the liver means avoiding undue exposure to chemicals, both in the diet and around the household. It means paying attention to healthy intestinal function, thereby reducing bowel toxicity and autointoxication. It means using probiotics routinely, and other supplements, particularly antioxidants and herbs, that are therapeutically supportive to liver functions. It means understanding Eastern medicine concepts detailing the liver as an emotional organ, and its connection to anger.
6. PRACTICE ACTIVE LIVING. Exercise has innumerable health benefits, for mood and sleep, for immune system strength, for cardiovascular function, for sweating and detoxification. A sedentary lifestyle is a choice for chronic medical conditions, and the options for inactive living are far too accessible. Computers, television and video games, combined with unhealthy snack foods and drinks, have assisted the development of our current pediatric obesity epidemic. Over 50 % of adult Ontarians are overweight and obesity is now recognized by experts as the second-leading preventable cause of death after cigarette smoking. For most of us, overweight or not, active living can also mean taking the stairs, raking the leaves, parking further away, or not driving at all. It is time to get back to active living, to get off the couch or desk chair, and to breathe some fresh air outdoors.