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This article describes 10 essential practices for good health. These recommendations are based on my training and experience in Modern Medicine and Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the oldest known system of healthcare, which evolved in India, and is based on holistic and natural methods. These recommendations are generic and do not apply to everybody. Please consult your healthcare provider before commencing, especially if you have a chronic disease or take any medications.
1. You are what you eat
To be fit and healthy you need to not only eat good food, but also know when and how much. I recommend eating a freshly cooked, organic, plant based, whole food diet, with fruits & vegetables, grains and legumes, dairy, oil, spices, and nuts. Eat three meals: breakfast, lunch and a light dinner (nothing after 7:00 pm or at least 3 hours before going to bed). Eat slowly and mindfully, in the company of family and friends and avoid eating while in front of a screen or behind the wheel. Food should occupy approximately half of the stomach after a meal. Drink room temperature or warm water to fill another quarter of the stomach. Avoid meat, processed food, white bread, white sugar and deep fried foods.
2. Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine – Slovakian Proverb.
For good health drink plenty of water during the day, about quarter to half gallon (1-2 litres). Avoid ice cold water, sodas and store bought juices. Juice organic fruits and vegetables at home and use as a snack or a meal. To lose weight, drink two glasses of warm to hot water upon awakening. Keep your alcohol intake in control by drinking no more than a couple of times every week and 1-2 drinks per episode only.
3. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise
There is now enough evidence to support this statement by Benjamin Franklin. A good night’s sleep (7-8 hours) is absolutely essential for health and wellbeing. It restores body and mind, and improves cognition, memory, and productivity. Sleep deprivation causes irritability, anxiety, weight gain, depression, and contributes to a high risk for hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. Avoid day time naps and late nights.
4. Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity – John F. Kennedy
Edward Stanley, Earl of Derby said “Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Moderate intensity physical activity performed 5 days a week for 30 min or more is recommended to maintain ideal body weight and as a primary preventive measure for chronic diseases. If your job is sedentary, take frequent walking or standing breaks throughout the day. Develop a home based practice of Yoga-Pranayama. These techniques relax the body and mind, improve strength and flexibility, slow aging, prevent and heal chronic diseases, and improve mood, memory, and learning.
5. Cleanliness is half-health
Napoleon said “Water, air, and cleanliness are the chief articles in my pharmacopoeia.” Personal hygiene starts with brushing teeth, having a bowel movement and taking a bath in the morning. I recommend that you floss and brush your teeth twice a day using a spin brush. We eat three times a day and we have gotten used to feeling hungry at these meal times. Similarly, the time of a complete bowel movement is in the morning. Drinking two glasses of water first thing in the morning and walking around will develop the urge for bowel movement. Ayurveda and Chinese medicine believe that all diseases start from the intestines. Modern science has only recently begun to recognize the importance of bacterial flora in the bowel and the link between dysbiosis, leaky gut syndrome and chronic diseases. Hygiene applies not just to the body, but also to the mind and to our surroundings.
6. Caution: Cigarette Smoking May Be Hazardous to Your Health
The above was required on cigarette packages and cartons by the 89th US Congress. The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) states: “The adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Smoking causes an estimated 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women. An estimated 90% of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease are caused by smoking. Compared with non-smokers, smoking is estimated to increase the risk of: coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times, stroke by 2 to 4 times, men developing lung cancer by 23 times, women developing lung cancer by 13 times, and dying from chronic obstructive lung diseases (such as chronic
bronchitis and emphysema) by 12 to 13 times.” For good health avoid tobacco in all forms. Also avoid recreational drugs, artificial sweeteners, and excessive tea or coffee consumption.
7. Moderation in all things, especially moderation – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Appreciate the balance and interconnectivity of everything in nature. The essence of being human is described by the word “Ubuntu” in an African language. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says “Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” Try to conserve, save, recycle, reuse, live thriftily and donate for a good cause. Once in a while remember to indulge as they say “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”
8. Gratitude is the best attitude
Be thankful to the Almighty and develop a relationship with God. Life is a win-win situation. Trust in God and he will take care of you. Accept your current situation to invite positive forces. Don’t worry about the past or the future, live in the present. Change is the only constant. Accept love, peace, moderation, humility and be positive. Reject anger, hatred, envy, violence and fear. “Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny” – Lao Tzu. “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none” – William Shakespeare.
9. Learn to listen to what your body is saying
Urges are the body’s way of telling us what it needs to heal. Listen to your body carefully, you will hear it clearly when you sit in silence and observe your breath. Meditation and deep relaxation techniques have been shown to change our bodies on a genetic level. In long-term practitioners of relaxation methods, the ”disease-fighting genes” were active compared to those who practiced no form of relaxation. Some health benefits of deep relaxation include improved immunity, emotional balance, improved fertility, improvement in symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, lower blood pressure, anti-inflammatory effect and tranquillity. Avoid suppressing natural urges to eat, drink, sleep, rest, urinate, defecate, pass gas, yawn, sneeze, cough, vomit or to have sex. Avoid any illegal activity to pursue these recommendations.
10. An investment in knowledge pays the best interest
Find time to watch the following movies (most available on Netflix):
- Food Inc.
- Hungry for change
- Escape Fire
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
- Food Matters
- Forks over Knives
- Food Fight
- Killer at Large
- The Gerson Miracle
“Walk the talk” and “Spread the word”. Be an example for your family and community. You cannot afford to fall sick. If you survive your illness, the medical bills or the overutilization will get you. Be healthy and be happy.