Foundations for a healthy, happy, abundant life.
When I first began my holistic health practice several years ago, I realized during discussions with some of my first clients, that they weren't aware of some of the very basic tenets of healthy nutritional and other lifestyle choices. As a result, the idea for this blog post was birthed. Below are some of the general, foundational practices for health, from a naturopathic perspective.
Practice #1- Healthy Nutrition/Diet
It goes without saying that a clean/well-rounded diet is very foundational when it comes to the basis of a healthy lifestyle. Many people are not aware of what exactly constitutes a "healthy diet" due to so much conflicting advice varying widely, from the "carnivore diet" to a "raw -food- vegan diet" and everything in between. Although dietary advice is very individual, in general, I advocate eating organically; foods that are as unprocessed as possible; a variety of leafy-green and low starch vegetables and smaller amounts of higher starch vegetables; small to moderate amounts of low-sugar fruits, such as berries (smaller amounts for diabetics and those with other blood sugar dysregulation issues); grass-fed meats in moderation, wild-caught fish, pastured eggs and dairy, etc. Avoiding excessive amounts of sugar, as well as avoiding consuming heavily processed foods with artificial sweeteners and other artificial ingredients is best. Depending on the individual, digestive aids, such as digestive enzymes are sometimes also recommended.
An example of what I might eat in a day, as a naturopath is as follows: Breakfast: grass-fed jerky stick OR green smoothie; Lunch: salad with leafy greens, cucumbers and a few baby tomatoes with 4 ounces grilled chicken; Dinner: Usually is similar to lunch, with veggies and a small amount of grass-fed and/or organic meat. I rarely eat desserts or even much fruit due to a familial predisposition to blood sugar dysregulation. I also do not tolerate grains well, so if I do eat anything resembling a grain, it would be gluten-free (low-carb "keto" bread made with almond flour, almond-flour crackers, etc). I never eat snacks before bed, and rarely snack otherwise. If I find that I need a snack, I would eat a small handful of almonds or some cucumber slices or possibly a jerky stick or small protein shake or celery sticks with almond butter or sunflower butter. Eating healthy can be more affordable than many realize, due to grocery stores, such as Aldi and other less expensive chains carrying more organic and non-adulterated foods than used to be the case.
Practice #2- Hydration
Although this practice may seem elementary, one would be surprised by how many people go through life in a semi-dehydrated state. Drinking purified water (distilled or reverse osmosis), as well as, or in addition to, spring water which has minerals intact, are the best forms of hydration. There is some debate regarding just how much water to drink each day, but I was taught to try to drink one's body weight in water, in ounces, divided by two each day (if one weighs 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water, for example). As a naturopath, I have owned a reverse osmosis system for my water consumption, and which I used for many years, but more recently I switched to a small water distiller that I use daily. I prefer to use glass bottles to transport my water (stainless steel is fine too, but avoid plastic if possible). Since I drink distilled water, I supplement with minerals and eat plenty of leafy greens to help with mineral intake as well.
"People are beginning to realize that it is cheaper and more advantageous to prevent disease, rather than to cure it." Dr Henry Lindlahr
Practice #3- Spiritual/Mental/Emotional health
This practice could have an entire blog post devoted to expounding on it since it is such a large topic. Suffice it to say that, as a holistic health practitioner, my perspective is one of our spiritual/mental/emotional wellness being of vital importance to our overall state of health. Taking time regularly to pray/meditate; to spend time with emotionally safe and healthy friends and/or family; to practice gratitude and thinking patterns that are conducive to good mental health; having fun on vacations and at recreational events, etc are just some of the ways to maintain this practice. This particular aspect of living a naturopathic lifestyle can be challenging when one is in an abusive relationship of any type. I have had patients with toxic parents or spouses or even abusive co-workers or friends, and have observed that the degree of stress that these abusive (narcissistic, alcoholic, emotionally abusive, etc) people inflict upon these individuals can thwart all of the other best lifestyle choices being made by them. I have found that homeopathy, as well as Bach Flower and other flower remedies help people in these abusive relationships, to have the determination to not tolerate further ill-treatment. I have not hesitated to refer clients to mental health practitioners for therapy as the homeopathic remedy can often bring to the surface suppressed emotions that has been the root of the patient's chronic health issues. As the emotions come to the surface, the therapist can help the patient deal with them in a healthy manner.
Practice #4- Fun, Sweaty Activity (aka-exercise)
I am combining a few naturopathic principles under this one practice. Sunshine and fresh air, as well as being close to nature, are basic tenets of a naturopathic lifestyle, and one of the best ways to get exercise/activity, is to walk, ride a bike, or do some other activity outside in natural settings. The health benefits of "forest bathing" and being active in nature are immense on many levels (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually). On a personal level, although I do not live in a climate that is conducive to year-round outdoor activity, I try to get outdoors as much as I possibly can, and feel so refreshed and revived when I do so.
Practice #5- Non-toxic products/Home care
An area that is sometimes neglected when people are trying to live a healthier lifestyle is in the area of using toxic products for things such as cleaning, lawn care, or personal hygiene. It is very important for this aspect to be given attention since various toxic substances can wreak havoc on one's hormonal system and on other body systems, resulting in chronic health issues. Avoiding glyphosate products for lawn care, as well as toxic cleansers indoors is a good start. One can google alternatives since there are many available currently (unlike a few years ago). On a deeper level, women should consider using non-toxic skin-care products and makeup, as well as hair dyes. These products can also act as endocrine disrupters in the body. On a personal note, I use all organic skincare, makeup, haircare, and use natural products for cleaning. I recently decided to discontinue dying my hair, even though I had been using an organic hair dye (it still had some toxic ingredients, although was better than most). On the "links" page of my website, I have the link to some products and websites that I like for this purpose.
Practice #6- Sleep
Although this practice seems to be a given, many, many people struggle to sleep properly. Basic sleep hygiene includes things such as avoiding stressful conversations/television shows, etc before bed; sleeping in a cool, dark room; avoiding screens in general before bed; keep your mattress and pillows updated and supportive, etc. Homeopathy can also address sleep issues, as can proper nutrition, exercise and mental/emotional health support.
To sum it all up, living a Naturopathic Lifestyle is rewarding on multiple levels. In upcoming blog posts, I will expound in more detail on many of these topics, but hopefully this general overview helps to give an idea of what this lifestyle is all about.
Copyright, Holistic Harmony Natural Health Counseling, LLC, Teresa Glick, ND, CHom