Now more than ever, we need to focus on reaching total wellness of mind and body. Staying healthy is crucial for preventing disease and boosting our immune system against new viruses. Are we to assume that these modern diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, autoimmune disease, dementia are unrelated conditions that don’t have a common denominator? Yes, these conditions have unique features, but they all share a common origin, which is the modern lifestyle. The transformation from healthy and vital people free of degenerative disease into a world of sickness and disease needs to be addressed.
Instead of treating each health issue with a different drug, we can turn to science and look at the fundamental factors at the root of the disease. Gaining insight into the root causes of illness is where science and functional medicine lab work synergistically and empower people to prevent and treat disease with a healthy lifestyle and personalized regimes.
With the uncertainty around the new normal, this is the time to focus on the nine steps to healthy living. These steps help to reduce toxins, boost your immune system, maintain a healthy weight, nourish your adrenal system, gain restorative sleep, manage mood, and maintain a positive mindset. These steps are based on twenty years of clinical research of functional medicine lab testing and personalized regimes with outcomes of optimizing total wellness.
Let’s dive in with Step 1, focusing on lowering one’s toxic load. We live in a toxic world and need to understand the toxins affecting our health as well as detoxification. Toxins come in many forms as they are capable of causing disease and damage. Toxic overload is a heavy burden to the body and can impair neuroendocrine function negatively impacting neurological and hormonal function. Some symptoms range from weight issues, infertility, mood issues, thyroid and hormone dysfunction, poor memory and concentration, headaches, vertigo, and sugar cravings.
Best to start reducing your toxic load to assist your body and mind with the ability to optimize detoxification. Start with looking at what you put in and on your body, and the products you use in your home. Becoming mindful of what you use is a good start. Strive to replace with non-toxic products. Set goals to work on one area at a time. If it’s your food intake, then start with cleaning up your breakfast choices, then move to lunch, dinner, and snacks. For household products, start with your laundry soap then move to cleaners, personal care products, paint, and garden products. To avoid overwhelm, you can slowly shift, but daily progress is necessary to stay committed.
As we reduce our toxic load, we introduce Step 2, which ties in nicely. It is the importance of eating healthy balanced eating regimes that nourish the body. Consuming balanced meals is vital for your health. For over 50 years, the USDA promoted a high carbohydrate, low-fat diet claiming that it would protect us from diabetes and heart disease and make us happy and healthy. Only 1 in 8 Americans are achieving optimal metabolic health; having ideal levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure, and waist circumference, without using medications.
We need to review what we are eating. Ask yourself if the food you are about to consume will nourish and fuel your body or add to your problem areas. Food should be fuel. Think organic, non-GMO, non-glyphosate, minimally processed when choosing food. Eat the color of the rainbow balancing protein, complex carbohydrates like leafy green vegetables, low-glycemic fruits like berries, and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut, and avocado. To balance your blood sugar levels throughout the day, add protein to each meal, and keep your sugar intake to 15 to 21 grams daily.
Step 3 is plain and straightforward, as it is the importance of proper hydration. Did you know that 60% of the human adult body is water? Our brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%. We are not made up of juice or sugary drinks, so the body will need water to survive. How much water are your drinking daily, and is it pure, clean water?
Step 4 is the introduction to a nutraceutical regime and what core basics are most important. Instead of guessing what supplements your body needs, do yourself a lifelong favor and get a functional medicine organic acid test to determine your imbalances and nutritional deficiencies. With this gained insight, you can then follow a personalized supplement regime. At the least, a quality probiotic with certain beneficial bacteria strains, is a great foundation to start and add in Vitamins A, C, and D along with zinc to protect you from the new viruses. Gut health is key to optimizing wellness.
Step 5 is the health benefits of exercise, and movement can not be overstated. Physical activity can reduce your risk of dying early from heart disease and some cancers. Exercise helps with mood management, energy levels, brain health, memory, muscle strength, weight management, and sleep quality. There are many forms of exercise to make it fun, like dancing, yoga, jogging, walking, sports games, biking, jump rope, and more. Find the activity that suits you and get moving.
Step 6 is the role of restorative sleep as uninterrupted sleep lets you go through the different stages of sleep. The deep sleep and REM sleep stages are the stages in which our body and mind undergo the most restoration. It’s best to stick to a regular pattern of bedtime and rising time, avoid eating heavy meals two hours before bedtime, and avoid blue light and electronic devices. Sleep allows the brain and body systems to be repaired, heal, and grow. During challenging times of uncertainty, we need to make sure we are getting sleep since stress releases cortisol and adrenaline and can lead to sleep disruptions and a reduction in restorative sleep.
Step 7 is dealing with stress! We know that chronic stress is hazardous to one’s overall wellness and can lead to early death from cancer, heart disease, and other health problems. Learn to implement daily meditation, deep breathing, and visualization to help deal with everyday stress. How can stress negatively impact our health? Stress can cause elevated cortisol levels that can interfere with memory and learning, lower immune functionality and bone density, and increase blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and heart disease.
Step 8 is becoming mindful and aware. Mindfulness is improving health in many ways: relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, enhance sleep, gut, and mental health. Being mindful involves learning how to be flexible and accept whatever arises in your awareness at each moment. Mindfulness includes being kind and forgiving toward yourself, combating fear along the way. When you are mindful of your actions, you can learn to become a savvy consumer and put your financial power in your choices. Your purchases will support healthy decision making.
Step 9 is about mindset because without a positive mindset, much cannot happen. Nothing positive comes from a negative mindset. Your outlook or mindset will either make you or break you. Your mindset determines whether you will be committed to achieving your goals when things get challenging. Nothing will slow you down more than your mindset. Get inspired and stay empowered with like-minded people, join a community to keep you motivated, set goals, and read motivational quotes daily to infuse your mind with positivity.
I always remind others that they are here for a reason, and they need to be healthy to accomplish all their dreams and goals. Remember, your health is worth it because you are worth it!
About Nancy Guberti
Nancy is a Functional Medicine Specialist, Nutritionist & Author, Healthy Living Everyday
Total Wellness Empowerment Podcast & Membership Founder of 9 Steps to Healthy Living. You can connect with Nancy on LinkedIn and Twitter.