First basic of natural health: eat and drink properly
Eating well can be treacherous territory. Everywhere you look, you are getting different advice and honestly, that is because there is no one way everyone should eat. But, there is one way you should eat. You just have to learn your way around your own metabolism and your body’s signals when it comes to foods.
The most important concepts in diet are:
• Proper balance of food groups (for you specifically)
• Portion size
But other key factors include inflammatory foods, food sensitivities and your metabolic type. And to complicate things even more, several different theories on metabolic types exist. Let’s simplify all of this for you. Just remember, you are trying to use your own body as a guide. No one prescription works for everyone.
In general, you’ll want to learn about balances of protein, fats and carbohydrates in your diet. Most people do well to follow the guideline of ¼ of the plate = animal protein, ¼ of the plate = grains, ½ of the plate = vegetable. And fat should comprise no more than 30 percent of your total diet, with limited saturated and NO trans fats at all. But, this is the standard recommendation, right? So pay attention to your body’s signals. If you are feeling hypoglycemic with symptoms that include hunger, anxiety, headaches, perspiration, drowsiness, confusion or amnesia on this fundamental plan, add more protein and take away some carbohydrate.
Or add a protein snack between meals. The important thing is to feed your body regular amounts at regular intervals so that it comes to know what to expect.
When it comes to specific food choices, everyone should learn about foods that promote inflammation.
Inflammation is the No. 1 cause of chronic illness, and the more you can control your inflammatory state the better. Food choices provide a regular opportunity to either contribute to the inflammation in your body or to minimize it.
The best way to identify your specific food sensitivities is to do a six-week VERY basic elimination diet followed by a gradual reintroduction of foods. As you reintroduce foods, the ones to which you exhibit symptoms are your individual food sensitivities. And, by food sensitivities I really mean that your body is having something like a toxic reaction to those foods, not unlike what happens when you drink alcohol.
Last, lots of ideas on metabolic typing exist. The simple response is that each idea has merit, and is a different ways of understanding the same thing. If one speaks to you, let it guide you. Don’t worry about the ones you can’t understand. It is likely a problem of vocabulary, not content, as the underlying content is often very similar in all of these approaches.
Natural health basic 2 – move for better health
Movement isn’t just for aerobic exercise anymore. The body needs to move to be healthy. Our contracting muscles move our blood and lymph promoting detoxification of tissues and decongestion of organs.
In addition, moving our bodies as a whole also moves our bowels. It is no accident that healthy people often have morning bowel movements. After a prolonged period of sedentary sleep, once we begin to move, our bowels are also stimulated to evacuate. Movement increases heart rate and blood flow and is therefore hailed as the key to cardiovascular health, but the increased blood flow does more than just promote heart health and help you lose weight. More blood means more oxygen to every cell. As the primary generator of cellular energy, increased oxygen promotes cellular function on every level and improves overall energy.
Movement also moves the fluid in our joints lubricating them and keeping them flexible and mobile. You do not have to be dripping with sweat to enjoy the benefits of movement – just get out and do it.
Natural health basic 3 – use castor-oil packs
Castor oil applied externally to the abdomen promotes health and homeostasis. This therapy, in use for more than 2,000 years, may be the single most effective tool you will have to influence your future health. Ricinoleic acid (the active ingredient in castor oil) causes contraction of vessels. For this reason, many people remember being fed it during their childhood to promote evacuation of stool. But, internal use of castor oil is no longer recommended.
Instead, we recommend you use it externally to cause movement of fluids within the lymphatic system (just underneath the surface of the skin). The movement of lymph will enhance detoxification of your tissues, increase vigilance of the immune system, and aid in healthy digestive processes by decongesting the abdominal area. In addition, the ricinoleic acid triggers autonomic-nervous-system activity and promotes balanced parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous-system function.
This relatively unknown therapy has helped a patient regain daily stools after 20 years of severe constipation (one bowel movement per week), has eliminated symptoms for countless women with difficult menstrual cycles, has improved sleep in chronic insomniacs and has improved cognitive and social functioning in autistic patients.
It is the single most effective tool I have in restoring normal physiological function, and it aids in homeostasis on almost every level and in almost every system. I highly recommend everyone learn about this simple treatment and find out how to self-administer it at home every night.
Dr. Rebecca Asmar, ND maintains an open, general family practice focused on optimizing health and overcoming chronic illness. She specializes in the treatment of children, autism, diabetes, hormonal problems, autoimmune disease and cancer. She also is on the board sponsoring The Run: Moving Natural Medicine Forward, an extraordinary 3,250-mile run across America by naturopathic physician Dr. Dennis Godby to increase awareness, educate and empower people about natural health care options, preventing disease, finding and treating the cause of illness, and revitalizing the nation’s health. The Run is the primary project of the Institute for Natural Medicine, a public advocacy non-profit organization. http://www.therun.org