Being healthy physically means not only
having a healthy body, but also having a healthy environment
in which to live and work. To help heal the body, alternative
physicians encourage their patients to become responsible
for their diet and nutritional needs, to exercise regularly
and to get adequate sleep, and to take steps to ensure
their home and work environments are free of potentially
harmful toxic chemicals and pollutants.
Diet and Nutrition
Proper diet is a cornerstone of optimum
physical health and can also positively influence mood
and mental function. Since the mid-20th century, however,
the typical diet has become increasingly devoid of essential
nutrients, due to several factors:
The advent of commercial farming methods,
which have resulted in minerally deficient soil and an
over-reliance on pesticides used to grow crops, and antibiotics,
hormones, and other drugs used in raising livestock.
The burgeoning popularity of the fast-food
industry and processed "junk foods," which contain
unhealthy chemical additives, saturated fats and transfatty
oils, and white flour and refined starches.
Environmental pollutants, which continue
to poison our air, land, and sea, to the point where even
certain, once healthy kinds of sea food are now unsafe
to eat due to the levels of mercury and other harmful
substances they contain.
The first rule of diet, therefore, is
to eliminate, or at least minimize, your intake of processed,
commercially grown food. Instead, emphasize a whole-foods
diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates,
nuts, seeds, fiber, pure water, and, if possible, organically
raised meat and poultry products. Also, reduce or eliminate
your intake of red meats, fats, and milk and dairy products.
For many people, adopting a whole foods
diet alone will produce significant health benefits. For
others, however, further attention needs to be given to
the foods they eats, especially if their problems persist
after following such a diet for a reasonable amount of
time (1-2 months). Such people may unknowingly suffer
from food allergies or sensitivities, or require the professional
assistance of a skilled physician or nutritionist, who
can help tailor a diet specific to their unique metabolic
type and biochemical individually. This is an area of
expertise that is far more common among practitioners
of alternative medicine that among conventional doctors,
who receive little training in diet and nutrition during
their medical education. Naturopathic physicians and practitioners
of Ayurvedic can also provide valuable dietary advice.
Due the increasing prevalence of environmental
pollution, the stresses of modern living, and the spread
of virulent pathogens, nutritional supplementation in
another important self-care health option. In order to
tailor a nutritional supplementation program that ideally
suits your needs, consider consulting with a nutritionally
oriented physician or clinical nutritionist.
American Board of Holistic Medicine, provides
a suggested dosage range for the most common antioxidant
vitamins and minerals:
C (polyascorbate): 1,000-2,000 mg three times daily
carotene: 25,000 IU once or twice daily
E: 400 IU once or twice daily
vitamins: 50-100 mg of each per day
acid: 400-800 mcg daily
picolinate : 20-40 mg per day
citrate or apatite : 1,000 mg daily
citrate or aspartate: 500 mg daily
polynicotinate : 200 mcg per day
: 10-15 mg per day
: 2 mg per day
: 10-18 mg daily.
"People who are exposed to higher
levels of stress and increased exposure to pollutants,
or who are not feeling well or experiencing diminished
sleep, should use the higher doses.
Next to diet, exercise is the most important
factor for achieving and maintaining optimum physical
health. It provides health benefits for people of all
ages and can also prolong life. A Finish study of nearly
8,000 men and women, for instance, found that those who
did not exercise increased their risk of dying by 400%
compared to individuals in the high-activity group. Here
are some tips to help you get started :
Frequency and duration of activity are
more important than intensity. Moderately intense exercise,
such as brisk walking, is enough for health benefits if
done most days of the week. Normal daily activities as
well as formal exercise sessions add up. You get health
benefits from walking up stairs and carrying out the trash,
gardening, cleaning, shopping, vacuuming, making the bed,
and mowing the lawn.
If you can, engage is moderate to vigorous
exercise using the large muscles for 30-60 minutes three
or more times a week; you're likely to gain even more
health benefits in addition to greater fitness.
You don't have to do all your exercise
at one time during the day. You can accumulate short periods
of moderately intense activity, such as mowing a patch
of lawn or walking up hills, in 5 - to 10-minute intervals
that total 30 minutes throughout the day. The key is the
total amount of energy expended not the intensity.
Strengthening exercises at least twice
a week help counteract muscle loss due to aging. And since
calories are burned more quickly by muscle tissue, muscle
mass is a key factor in helping maintain a healthful weight.
The more lean muscle mass you can preserve, the bigger
the "engine" in which to burn calories.
Ideally, you should have four goals for
your exercise regimen: aerobic capacity, strength, flexibility,
and weight control.
Plan a logical progression. If
you have unstable joints from injury or arthritis, or
you're in a weakened condition, start by improving your
muscle strength and flexibility. Build strength using
lighter weights and gently exercising the weakest parts
of your body.
When you're ready to add an aerobic exercise,
start at a comfortable level, such as walking 5-10 minutes
over a short distance indoors. Increase one to five minutes
per session, as tolerated.
Remember that for your fitness to improve,
you need to exercise regularly. Try for a minimum of 30
minutes of low to moderately intense physical activity
on most days of the week. Over time, you may be able to
build up to 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise.
Include variety. Combine three types of
exercise - stretching (flexibility), endurance (aerobic),
and strengthening (weight training) - with three levels
of intensity - warm up, workout level, and cool-down-in
each exercise session. When you're fit, a typical session
might include a five minute warm-up, 20-40 minutes of
aerobic activity, 10-15 minutes of weight training, and
a five-minute cool-down of stretching.
Mixed training reduces your chance of injury to or overuse
of one specific muscle or joint. Alternative among exercises
that emphasize different part of your body.
Schedule time for recovery. Many people
start with frenzied zeal, exercising too long or too intensely,
and give up when muscles and joints become sore or injured.
Start slowly build up gradually, allowing time between
sessions for your body to rest and recover.
For most older people, brisk walking becomes
a mainstay exercise. Walking for 20-30 minutes or more
at least three but preferably five times a week offers
health benefits. If one of your goals is losing weight,
you may want to walk about 40 minutes several times a
week. That's because you burn more fat during longer-duration,
lower-intensity exercise than you do during shorter exercise
Precautions: Before beginning any exercise
program, consult your Physician and have a thorough exam
to rule out any health conditions that may need attention.
If you have heart disease, diabetes, or are at high risk
for these or other serious illness, begin an exercise
program only with your physician's approval. Inactive
men over the age of 40 and women over 50 should also consult
their physician. If you have been physically inactive
for some time, it is important to consult with your physician
to determine if you may need to undergo an accelerated
detoxification program before you begin exercising. Ask
your doctor how your medications may affect your exercise
plan. Drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart
disease, as well as sedatives, anti-histamines and cold
medications, can cause dehydration, impaired balance,
and blurred vision; in addition, some medications can
affect the way your body reacts to exercise.