One of the most empowering ways to take back control of your health, reduce healthcare costs and prevent costly chronic disease is to participate in your own health creation.
What does this mean and what would it look like?
It means there are certain undebatable laws or “fundamentals” of health creation you can follow to prevent disease while enhancing your health; like good nutrition, movement and stress management. And once you master these, you greatly reduce your risk of future illness.
What is looks like is: you practicing these fundamentals regularly and having great energy, better clarity of mind, sounder sleep, easy digestion and better overall health.
And, despite what you may have been led to believe, creating health doesn’t have to be difficult, cumbersome or complicated—all you have to do is master the basics one by one.
To help make this easy, our medical director and functional medicine doctor Dr. Jeff Gladd and director of Health Coaches Tracy Harrison, MS have distilled the key principles of self-health creation into these “7 Laws of Self-Health Creation”. Each of which can be applied to your lifestyle to start creating massive shifts in your health straight away.
Without further ado, let’s get started with:
The 7 Laws of Self-Health Creation
Self-Health Creation Law #1: Optimize Food and Nutrition
If there’s one area we’ve been expertly-advised-and-deceived to death on, it’s food and nutrition.
From low-fat, heart-healthy, plant-based eating to paleo-inspired high-fat, low-carb dieting it seems everyone has an opinion (and even the science) on what it takes to “eat healthy”.
Want a bit of good news that speaks to commonsense?
First, there is not one perfect diet for everyone.
With so many variations in ancestral backgrounds, health conditions, food sensitivities, stress levels and availability of food how could there be? So put the idea of a “perfect diet” out of your mind.
Secondly, eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated, extreme or unpleasant. Food is as much about nourishment as it is about enjoyment and pleasure.
That said, here’s how to get the most out of your food to optimize overall health:
Avoid processed and packaged foods (if it comes from a box or bag, opt for something fresher).
Buy organic and naturally-grown food as much as possible to reduce pesticide consumption.
Eat plenty of vegetables, aim for 5-7 servings a day.
Cut back on sugar.
Avoid artificial sweeteners which have been linked to a variety of health issues including obesity, diabetes and heart disease (to name but a few) 1.
Opt for moderate amounts of unprocessed fats like olive oil, butter and coconut oil.
If you have a chronic condition or autoimmune disease, take gluten out of your diet and you will see a difference.
If you’re looking for help implementing a specific nutrition regime or need some extra motivation to eat better, our medically-supervised Health Coaches can help. Click here to learn more.
Self Health Creation Law #2: Avoid toxins and enhance detoxification
Toxins are everywhere, it’s true. But avoiding the most hazardous every-day toxins is remarkably easy to do by following these tips:
Avoid toxins in your food by limiting process foods and buying organic and/or naturally-grown whenever possible.
Avoid toxins at home by quitting smoking, investing in a air purifier, opening the windows to let in fresh air, choosing natural personal care products, using non-toxic, natural cleaners and adopting a no-shoe policy (studies have shown shoes carry in a ghastly number of germs, bacteria, heavy metals and other unsavory toxins2).
Avoid toxins in your environment, though we can’t control the outside world you can avoid key toxins in your environment by choosing non-toxic gardening and lawn care services, using an air purifier in your car, drinking filtered water and getting out into nature to breathe fresh air as much as possible.
Self Health Creation Law #3: Stay hydrated
While experts debate on the “perfect” amount of water to drink daily, Dr. Gladd and our health coaches recommend drinking 8-8oz glasses of pure filtered water per day.
If you live in a very hot climate, exercise vigorously or consume coffee and/or alcoholic beverages, you will want to increase that by 1-3 glasses.
Drinking enough water ensures all your bodily functions run smoothly, and helps enhance cognition and focus, detoxification, digestion and promotes healthy skin.
Self Health Creation Law #4: Remember to breathe
This law is so simple it’s easily forgotten, but the quality of your breath is central to the quality of your health.
For example, it has been shown that just a few deep breaths can stop your stress response in its tracks3.
To get the most out of your breathing, practice deep belly breathing where you breathe in deeply through your nose filling your belly with air (without raising your shoulders), and then exhale fully through your mouth…ahhhhh.
Repeat this every hour or two and you’ll see a remarkable change in your stress levels.
Self Health Creation Law #5: Exercise and move
Though exercise is important to maintaining a healthy heart, weight, digestion and more, natural movement is equally important in self-health creation.
For exercise, choose something you enjoy doing for 20-30 minutes a day like walking, dancing, yoga, burst training or cycling.
To increase natural movement, look for opportunities to move more whenever possible. Try a standing desk or sitting on a yoga ball at work, park further away from the store and walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, stretch for 5 minutes, when you wake up or cancel your lawn service and mow it yourself.
Self Health Creation Law #6: Make sleep and restoration a priority
In our fast-paced, 24/7 electronic world, sleep and restoration are perceived as more of a nuisance than a welcomed necessity. Those who value them are seen as weak or “unproductive”, when the reality is the less you rest the weaker and even less intelligent you become.
This has been proven of late by the discovery of the glymphatic system, a newly-discovered system in your brain that acts as a garbage collector of old cells, proteins and waste…and it’s only activated by deep, natural sleep (pill-induced sleep doesn’t count)4.
Moreover, sleep is the time your body engages in what’s known as synaptic pruning, where old knowledge is pruned away to make space for new information5.
Sleep is also the time the rest of your body repairs and rebuilds itself, so if you’re getting less than 7.5-9 hours a night you’re weakening your entire body and brain.
If you have trouble sleeping, try any of the following solutions:
Get enough exercise early in the day.
Shut off devices 2-3 hours before bed.
Naturally enhance melatonin production (your master sleep hormone) by getting 20-30 minutes of bright morning light and keeping your room completely dark at night.
Meditate and/or journal before bed.
Stop caffeine consumption after 2PM.
Drink calming herbal teas before bed such a chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, skullcap or valerian.
Eat protein at dinner to avoid blood sugar crashes at night.
Avoid alcohol before bed for deeper, uninterrupted sleep.
If after trying the above strategies, you’re still struggling to get enough rest, contact us immediately so we can look at how we can support you in creating healthier sleep hygiene.
Self Health Creation Law #7: Connect through community
Our country is the midst of a social-health crisis. One where, despite our many means of communication, people are feeling lonelier and more isolated than ever.
Fortunately, experts like Dr. George Slavich, director of the UCLA Laboratory for Stress Assessment and Research, are helping shed light on the pathology of this social-health-crisis through the emerging science of Human Social Genomics.
Through this research, Dr. Slavich’s team, and others, have discovered our social environments, and how we perceive them, have a direct impact on our basic biological processes—including gene expression6.
So how to do we remedy this amidst the lonesome world of social media friendships and work-a-holism?
Use online resources to create offline connections.
For example, sites like Eventbrite and Meetup offer a free online platform to search for local events and groups like fitness groups, health talks, hiking clubs, mom’s groups, new comer’s clubs, etc.
You can also search online for volunteer opportunities, churches or other spiritually-minded practices like meditation groups or intentional communities.
The point is to get offline and make face-to-face connections as much as possible, make it a goal to spend time with friends, family or a like-minded group of people at least once a week.