The Five Lifestyle Factors for Health and Healing

Q: What can I do to heal faster?

A: There are several things that you can do to speed up the healing process:

  • Do not miss your weekly acupuncture visits for the first 6-9 weeks (6-9 weeks is our standard recommendation to see initial results)
  • Do not “forget” to take the supplements that we recommend to you, as they are a vital part of your healing process.
  • Follow the Five Lifestyle Factors: Diet, Get More Sleep, Exercise, Avoid Negativity, and Toxin Avoidance.

The Five Lifestyle Factors constitute the necessary habits to both regain health as well as to maintain it.  Almost all chronic illness can be attributed to neglect of at least one of these factors, and restoring health requires that you adhere to these five factors.

No, you don’t need to be “perfect”, but your level of results will be directly proportional to how strict you are with these five factors.  As the saying goes “you get back what you put into it”.

Factor One: Diet.  Avoid all flour and sugar, eat the way our paleolithic ancestors ate.

Eat “off the land” the way that our ancient ancestors ate.  This means a diet of proteins, vegetables, healthy fats, and clean water.  Food should be FRESH, unprocessed, and you should eat ORGANIC as much as your budget will allow.  I know organic food is expensive, but being sick, lethargic, and unproductive is even more expensive.  Do the best you can with the finances that you have because your health is worth it.

Strictly avoid all junk food and processed foods such as breads, pastas, cereals, and alcohol.  Stop justifying your daily alcohol consumption with disproven studies (funded by wine companies) that say that a glass of wine a day will reduce heart disease.  It won’t.  It will however, damage your liver and set you up for moderate to severe hormonal imbalances.

Here’s what to eat in a nutshell:

Proteins: chicken, fish (all kinds), meat, eggs (as much as you like, don’t worry about the cholesterol), whey protein, Greek yogurt

Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower) are best, spinach, green lettuce, asparagus, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, arugula, sweet potatoes, etc.  Stay away from white potatoes as they are more of a starch and will make you fat.

Healthy Fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts), raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax), fresh butter (yes, butter)

Clean Water: We prefer reverse osmosis (we use Hague brand) if you can afford it, but do the best you can given your budget.  Get the best water filter you can afford, even bottled water is good.  Just stay away from tap water as much as possible.  Other non-calorie beverages such as green tea, black tea, herbal tea, and even organic coffee (no sugar) are fine in moderation.  Stay away from juice because it has too much sugar.  Obviously stay away from all soda (especially diet soda) as it is full of garbage and chemicals.

Factor Two: Get More Sleep

Sleep is extremely important on a healing program.  It is not just the body that repairs itself during sleep, the subconscious mind and psyche heals old mental and emotional wounds during sleep.

I’ll write more about this later, but good acupuncture re-aligns the mental and emotional body and thus heals you from deep psychological and emotional trauma…without doing talk therapy.  I’m not saying talk therapy is bad, it’s actually very useful.  I’m saying that this is an “alternative” approach to healing emotional wounds that has been around for thousands of years.  However, this healing process takes place during the sleep that you get after the acupuncture treatment.

How much is enough sleep?  That varies from person to person and depends on how stressful your lifestyle is.  That being said, most people should shoot for at LEAST 7-9 hours of good sleep per night.

We understand that some of you may find this difficult to do because of time commitments.  We ask that you MAKE the time to sleep and do your best to minimize distractions such as TV, internet surfing, and other time wasters that are cutting into your sleep time.  It is important to get good sleep during the healing process…otherwise you won’t heal.

The criteria for good sleep:

  • “Enough” sleep is waking refreshed in the morning without the need for an alarm
  • Getting up more than once per night to urinate is a sign of ill health
  • It should not take longer than 30 minutes maximum to fall asleep
  • You should be able to stay asleep soundly throughout the night

If you have trouble with any of these aspects, be sure to discuss this with us as it will need to be addressed as part of your healing process.
Some tips for better sleep:

  • Make sure the bedroom is completely dark.  Any form of light will disturb sleep.  Get “blackout” curtains from Bed Bath and Beyond, they help make the room completely dark.
  • Shut off all computers, TV’s, and electrical appliances with the exception of an alarm clock and maybe a night lite if you absolutely need it.  Active electrical appliances emit electro-magnetic energy that disturbs the sleep cycle.
  • Have a small amount of protein and fat before bed to help stabilize blood sugar and keep you asleep throughout the night.  This can be two tablespoons of almond butter, one or two eggs, some whey protein, or at few ounces of chicken.

Factor Three:  Exercise

Exercise is a tricky subject when treating patients with chronic illness.  This is because there are two major forms of exercise: one form that builds health, and another that builds athleticism.

Health and athleticism are not necessarily the same thing.  For example, heavy weight lifting or sprinting may produce athleticism, but will make a sick person even worse.  However something like walking or gentle yoga will help a sick person become healthy, but won’t make you athletic.

The purpose of exercising for health is to gently move the body fluids (blood, lymph) so that the healing process can happen faster.  Exercise should be non-strenuous, low-impact, and non-taxing to the body.  The purpose is not to build muscles or become super strong, although those may be goals that you can pursue AFTER you become healthy again.

It is our opinion that the best form of exercise for health is WALKING.  The simple act of a 20-30 minute walk, preferably done in the fresh air, is all that is needed to get the blood moving enough to stimulate a healing process.  We recommend that you walk at least 3 times per week for at least 20-30 minutes.  As you become healthier try to do this up to seven days per week.

How fast you should walk depends on your energy levels.  Always end your walk feeling refreshed and invigorated.  If you feel tired after your walk, then you pushed too hard and need to ease up next time.  Even if your walk is only for 5 minutes, do what you can to feel invigorated.  Remember that you are doing this to build energy, not deplete it.

Once you can do a good 30 minute walk, consider hiking in the woods for a more vigorous exercise.  The fresh air and energy of nature is very healing.

There are other forms of exercise that are suitable for the healing process.  These include gentle yoga, Qigong, Pilates, and light weight training.

However, these other forms require the guidance of a trained professional, do NOT attempt these on your own if you are inexperienced.  You’ll likely do more harm than good to yourself.  If you have the time, money, and desire to take up more advanced forms of exercise, please ask us for a referral, we know some really good people in the area who can help you.

Factor Four: Avoid Negativity, this means negative people, places, and things/media.

The fourth factor is “avoid negativity”.  It is not “be positive”.  You see, it is impossible to make yourself be positive for a long time if you are sick, poorly nourished, under-rested, and out of shape.  It is also impossible (or really hard) to have a positive mindset when you are surrounded by negative people, a bad social/family environment, and watching negative media and television.

We believe that the natural state of the human being is one of peace and happiness.  However, this state of peace and happiness is suppressed in a condition of bad diet, poor sleep, inactivity, and negative influences.  We feel that when these factors are remedied, the natural, God-given state of happiness that is inside all of us will naturally flourish on its own.

This, by the way, is why we start lifestyle modification with diet…because what you put in your  mouth is something that you can actually control.  If you can’t sleep due to hormonal problems, you can’t force yourself to sleep.  If you can’t exercise due to high inflammation, you can’t force yourself to exercise.  And if you’re depressed/anxious due to these previous factors, you can’t force yourself to be happy unless you want to constantly lie to yourself (which ends up creating other problems).

So you start by improving your diet, something that you have control over.  Assuming you are also following our care instructions at Holistic Natural Medicine (weekly acupuncture and taking your supplements), you will be able to sleep better and now you just need to make the time to do so.  After a few weeks your energy will start to improve as inflammation goes down…now you can go for those walks.  And as your body heals and the emotional wounds that we all carry are processed during sleep your nagging depression and anxiety will begin to heal.  Now all you have to do is avoid the negativity that makes it hard for you to be positive.

I assume you don’t need us to tell you what constitutes negative people, places, and  things/media.  We all know negative people who are a pain in the @ss to deal with.  They always complain, criticize, argue, and lament.  They drain your energy like a vampire.  We all know negative places (they almost always serve alcohol) and negative television/media.  Do your best to avoid these sources of negativity.  If one of these sources is a close friend or relative, you may need to limit your time around this person…or make some hard choices.

Fifth Factor: Toxin Avoidance

I’m going to finish this by stating that there are potential poisons in our current environment that were not around 100 or even 50 years ago.  Most of these are products of industrial waste and environmental pollution such as mercury, lead, cadmium, heavy metals, petroleum waste, exhaust fumes, medical waste, and other chemical waste.  Additionally, we have hundreds of pesticides and preservatives in our food, the majority of which have not been adequately tested for safety.  Then we have the chemicals and preservatives in our soaps, shampoo, personal hygiene products, and even drinking water.

Most of us will agree that avoiding these chemicals as much as possible is a good thing.  There is plenty of research indicating that these substances are not natural for the human body and thus contribute to all forms of chronic illness.

Much talk has been given about “detoxification” and the importance of removing these chemicals (which accumulate in our bodies) in order to heal from chronic illness.  Soon we will write more in depth about this but for now I’d like to say this:

You cannot isolate “detoxification” from the other aspects of cell function such as metabolism, respiration, replication, and regeneration.  Detoxification is just one aspect of total cellular function that is ultimately determined by the amount of energy/Qi/ATP that is available for the cell to use.

Detoxification CANNOT happen independently of these other cell functions and you cannot focus on “detoxing” a cell as much as you can focus on “respirating” it.  Cell function is an all or nothing phenomena that does not respond to micro-management.

When you follow our approach at Holistic Natural Medicine, the classical/wholistic approach of increasing cellular energy through the Chinese model of Qi and meridians, detoxification happens as a natural by-product of health restoration.  Your body knows exactly how and what to detoxify and in what order…if only it has the energetic reserve to do so.

Using our classical model of health restoration, the body will naturally detoxify itself from heavy metals  and chemicals.  The mechanisms to remove these substances from all aspects of the body are already within you, they simply need to be activated by giving the body the tremendous energetic resources that it needs to deal with the current state of pollution and toxicity in this world (which is unprecedented).  This is something that we found out by accident, through patients diagnosed with environmental toxicity who presented us with before and after samples of hair and blood analysis.

As you go through your healing process at Holistic Natural Medicine, this detoxification process will happen naturally and with minimal side effects…because we are not forcing anything out but simply giving the body the resources that it needs to heal.  However, it makes sense to avoid toxic substances as much as possible in order to reduce the workload that your body has to do and to quicken the healing process.

As much as your finances will allow:

  • Buy organic foods (meats and produce)
  • Use organic soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and body care products.  Remember that your body absorbs everything you put on your skin.
  • Use organic laundry detergent and cleaning products.
  • Get a shower filter to remove chlorine from your shower water (Aquasana makes a good filter).
  • Get the best water filter you can afford.  Hague reverse osmosis is our favorite, but even a Brita filter is better than nothing.

So in Summary, this is how to heal as fast as possible:

  • Do not miss your weekly appointments during the initial 6-9 week healing period
  • Do not “forget” to take the supplements we have recommended for you
  • No sugar, flour, or alcohol.  Eat protein, veggies, healthy fats, and clean water
  • Get more sleep
  • Take up walking, at least three times per week
  • Avoid negative people, places, and media
  • Avoid exposure to toxins

Further research/reading

The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson:  This is the best book we have seen on diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits for health. This is the website for the above book.  Tons of free information and very useful. This is the website for Environmental Working Group, a government funded agency that studies the effects of pollution and toxic chemicals on our health. This is the website of Dr. Magda Havas, a Ph.D. level environmental researcher who specializes in the effects of electro-magnetic radiation on human health.  The website is highly criticized by the wireless industry, yet the majority of the site is a collection of research articles detailing the adverse effects of radiation upon human health. The Weston A. Price Foundation for wise traditions in food, farming and the healing arts. a non-toxic natural home care products, made in Brooklyn