So much of our lifestyle and culture has changed in the last 100 years. An exponential amount of change has occurred in just the most recent 25 years. Electronics, computers, internet, cell phones, processed foods, the list goes on. We seem to be addicted. In some ways, these things help us to organize, stay connected, and be more productive. In other ways, they bring us out of touch with some realities around us. Before these modern inventions, things were much different. The food we ate was more natural, we were outdoors physically working more, and we were in tune with the cycles and seasons around us. Part of the problem is that our bodies are so used to living before this “Technological Age.” We are asking for a lot of change in a short period of time. Many people struggling with health problems find it hard to get much better. There are chronic illness patterns that appear very resistant to treatment.
What I am suggesting here is to be cautious with these new “Toys” we are playing with. Especially with regard to new processed versions of food and sedentary lifestyles. Before 100 years ago we didn’t have chemicals and additives in our food, milk wasn’t pasteurized, thing’s weren’t produced in factories, etc. In other words, we are eating things our bodies are not used to. Computers have helped to create many “office jobs,” which sometimes don’t offer much physical labor. People are not exercising as much in their jobs.
Advancements in technology don’t need to hurt us. In fact, people have always tried to improve upon their space in nature and find better ways of living. The problem is that we are playing with things that we do not fully understand yet.
A great way to improve health is to emulate lifestyles before 100 years ago. This does not mean we need to totally get rid of our new toys. It just means trying to eat natural foods, work physically more when possible, spending time in nature, and being more aware of our surroundings. It also may mean spending less time with modern media like television or video games. Just try to remember that what we are doing is VERY NEW. We want our new technology to help us and not hurt us.
INFECTIOUS DISEASE is something that we do not like. Some form of “micro-invaders” via bacteria, virus’s, or parasites get into our bodies and cause illness. This is a concept familiar to most. We get the flu, our bodies immune system kicks in and attempts to destroy or remove the invaders. These are things that can often be transmitted person to person in close proximity or through physical intimacy. They are hopefully short term. These types of things can come from many avenues; but poor hygiene and sanitation is a sure way to create bad germs. Ok, so that is infectious disease.
BAD HEALTH is something that is built up over time. It can take years to develop bad health. This is a condition usually caused by many bad lifestyle habits. This can include poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, processed foods, mental/emotional stress, etc. There are hundreds of things that can create bad health. Often people don’t even realize they are entering into bad health because it’s slow to come on or they attribute it to aging.
The point we are making here is that INFECTIOUS DISEASE and BAD HEALTH are NOT the same thing. People can have bad health without being infected with certain bugs. People can also have terrible infectious disease while having good health. There would appear to be much confusion. Bad health cannot be fixed by doctors unless the person is willing to change the lifestyle habits that are adding to the illness. Another issue is that when you have bad health it becomes EASIER to catch infectious disease due to weakened immune system, low energy, etc. So what do we do?
Obviously we want to have GOOD HEALTH and not be dealing with INFECTIOUS DISEASE. The best ways to do this are to use a combination of approaches. Eat whole foods, exercise appropriately, sleep, de-stress, find purpose, etc. IMPROVE the lifestyle to a healthy, sustainable one. To avoid infectious disease, use excellent hygiene and sanitation practices and regularly consume “anti-bug” foods such as raw garlic, hot peppers, some essential oils like oregano, fresh ginger, fermented foods, etc. When you go to the doctor you want to have good health and no bad bugs.
Health can be an obscure topic. I wanted to draw up a different way of thinking about things. In simplistic terms, humans function with inputs and outputs. The INPUTS are the things that we take into our body, mind, and spirit from our environment, relationships, etc. The OUTPUTS are the functioning that we can amazingly do because of our inputs. Things like working jobs, taking care of kids, going on trips, and various other tasks. Obviously we ALL want a HIGH LEVEL of OUTPUT. We want to feel good, have plenty of energy, strength, and stamina to do the things that are important to us. We also want to have resilience to stress, illness, and injury.
What I would like to state is that your INPUTS have a DIRECT RELATIONSHIP to your OUTPUTS. As a system of health, we want to improve the QUALITY of our INPUTS as to have better OUTPUT.
This is where cleaning up the lifestyle comes in. Unfortunately, many of our inputs in modern times have become compromised, polluted, inferior, or otherwise “junked up.” Let’s look at some of the basic INPUTS humans require.
- FRESH AIR. This is number 1 on the list. Problems arise when we compromise too much on the quality of our air such as pollution in cities.
- CLEAN WATER. Number 2 on the list. Most people know to drink water, however the cleanliness and quality can be a factor
- HEALTHY FOOD. There is so much junk out there people are eating. This is a big factor for many people as to why OUTPUT may not be as good as we want.
- GOOD RELATIONSHIPS. Not something you eat, but an input nonetheless. Being surrounded by positive, supportive people helps us mentally/emotionally feel safe and happy.
- There are many more inputs such as the types of music we listen to, the Television we watch, our hobbies, etc.
So the basic premise is that the healthier that your inputs are; the better output you can expect. This does not necessarily mean you will feel and perform as you wish that you could. It does mean that you will be doing better than you would with less optimal INPUTS.
A few basic notes here on REST and EXERCISE. I would not exactly classify these as INPUTS, however both are essential to functioning well. REST helps to heal and recover body systems and gives us a chance to de-stress. Exercise circulates and stimulates body systems and promotes health and strength.
It is not always easy to clean up our INPUTS, however there is generally a reward when we do. Keeping notes and tracking progress can be helpful. Just try to keep most of what is coming IN positive, healthy, and feeling good. Avoid negative, energy draining foods and activities. Don’t follow the crowd. Trust your instincts if you need to remove or add things. Remember that good does come when we make positive changes!
There is a constant debate going on out there. Are COOKED FOODS BAD for us? Is it just the types of cooked food? Is RAW FOOD harmful?
This article is meant to be practical, so briefly; why do we want to eat raw foods?
RAW FOODS contain enzymes and vitamins before processing. Much of these can often be destroyed in cooking. It just means that your body has to generally work HARDER to assimilate and utilize these foods. There are exceptions. Cooking can sometimes make unappetizing or indigestible foods edible such as grains, some hard beans, and vegetables (especially roots). Cooking can also transform some tough and chewy meats into comforting protein sources. So how are we to KNOW which to be eating raw? It is a difficult balance, but here are some guidelines.
- Eat RAW when there isn’t a great reason to cook. These are items like fruits, cold-pressed raw oils like olive, sesame, and coconut. This includes some vegetables depending on your digestive situation. These can also include plant fats such as avocados or nuts. Raw Nuts may cause issues for some with sensitive digestive systems. Sweeteners are also great Raw. Healthy things like raw honey, agave, or small amounts of cane sugar. There are usually raw alternatives to processed sweeteners.
- We enter a medium level of concern for some people here. RAW MILK and RAW EGGS are things some people are afraid of. By all means steer clear of bad quality dairy and eggs. Just be aware that pasteurization is the newfangled way of doing things. For thousands of years; people mainly were consuming raw milk. Pasteurization kills the enzymes and other factors leaving the product much harder to digest. Lightly cooked eggs do not pose a problem for most people. RAW EGGS may be easiest for those with upset digestion.
- The next level is tricky even for most advanced “dieters.” Here we enter into the realm of RAW MEATS. Culturally we have become much more acceptable of things such as SUSHI or raw fish being ok here and there. However, when talking about raw farm animals things get a little more dicey. We know that historically people often ate raw meat. Of course this was fresh and of the highest quality. I would definitely advise AGAINST consuming any supermarket quality farm animals raw. The level of disease is already far too high. Pork and chicken feel a little riskier than beef. If you are getting high quality non-gmo meats, you may be ok cooking your meats a bit rarer. So bottom line? Start by getting the highest quality meats you can find. Don’t overcook them as to stress your system. Make sure you consume plenty of raw foods to counterbalance the cooked.
So why do we care to do this? Many many people’s bodies and digestive systems are extremely sluggish because they eat so much poor quality cooked food with little raw, enzyme rich food to balance it out. This leaves people often overweight, low energy, and feeling sluggish. The body simply gets tired of processing the food. It is like eating calories without the batteries. The fuel is there, but it puts a big burden on the system do keep eating that way without enzymes. I might add a special note on PINEAPPLE AND PAPAYA FRUITS here. These tropical fruits both contain high levels of enzmyes specific to digesting proteins. They are great for enzyme therapy and for those trying to overcome chronic fatigue, poor digestion, and other related symptoms.
A good basic guideline is to keep increasing your proportion of raw foods until it begins to feel unhealthy. You can overdo it. I do not believe it necessary to become ultra-strict or a 100% raw foodist. Humans have been healthfully cooking for a long time. Just make sure you balance it with the raw and remember to eat HEALTHY FOODS regardless of whether they are COOKED or RAW!
This is a short article about the importance of maintaining discipline in the often-invisible battles of self-control and knowing how to healthfully be with others. What we are referring to is the LINES that we DRAW when operating our lives. These may be physical lines, mental lines, emotional; even spiritual. PHYSICAL lines are sometimes easier to pay attention to and observe; such as parking spaces to choose. There are literal lines for us to follow. Other times it is not so easy to figure out. Since we are talking within the aspects of health and wellness, what do we mean?
These LINES are often invisible; but they exist nonetheless. They are the lines we place on what types and how much food we eat, how little exercise is too little, how much sleep we need, etc. Most of us make these decisions daily and sometimes go through phases of feeling better or less well depending on our choices. Let’s talk a little about things that can affect where our lines are placed.
RELATIONSHIPS and SOCIAL CONNECTIONS can dramatically affect where we place our lines. It is very easy to cut corners and let our good choices fall down when coming up with others that are making less healthful choices. This can include eating, drinking alcohol, and hobbies that may be too sedentary.
OUR BELEIFS can radically affect where we place our lines. Sometimes we believe that something is “GOOD ENOUGH,” or “NORMAL” and this is enough to let go of our good judgement and let our lines slip down.
What are some examples of lines? Of course we are staying primarily within the framework of physical health and fitness, but here are some examples.
- Types of Foods and amounts of food that you willingly consume
- Types and amounts of exercise that you require
- How much time you take for self-care and stress-relief?
- How much criticism do you take without standing up for yourself?
- How much do you compromise in relationships or “follow the crowd?”
- The things you let yourself spend money on.
These are just some basic questions; but the primary issue of LINE DRAWING extends to most areas of a persons life. Many people have issues figuring out where and how to draw healthy lines. What are some answers?
- The first principle is to draw FIRM LINES. Have enough self-respect to protect yourself from what is not in your greatest good. If we cannot draw firm lines; we will be subject to “the crowd,” or often societies lines; which we know are not always the best.
- Allow yourself time to grow in most situations. Sometimes drawing new lines is a process. Things like changing our diet, quitting smoking, or forming new boundaries at work will most likely take some time. As long as you honestly see change happening, let it be a healthy process.
- RECOGNIZE when you are being influenced. We have people all around us that influence us. Friends, family, significant others, co-workers, and more. Ideally, these people will support you to be healthy and grow, but often this is not what happens. The ability to say NO is a powerful thing. Also remember, that if a person constantly tries to break your lines KNOWINGLY; you may want to reconsider that relationship. Unfortunately healthy decisions are often attacked for various reasons.
- KEEP NOTES OR A LOG. This is especially helpful for problem habits that we need help staying accountable for. When writing down things such as food or exercise tracking, or journaling about how certain people make us feel; this can help to uncover what is really going on. It provides evidence to us about the effectiveness or weakness of our LINES. It also can point out areas to work on.
I cannot overstate the importance of note-keeping and documentation. As most of these lines are INVISIBLE; it is best to find some way of tracking progress. Having attainable and progressive goals is valuable as well. Make small, healthy changes over time. Of course it is also good to have a backup plan if you fall off the wagon! If you find yourself compromising on your values and habits; just become aware and keep working on the superior habits.
Overall, knowing where and how to draw our lines is something all people have to work with. It is very important to have strong convictions so you do not get sucked into “crowd mentality.” It is also important to keep track of progress, as well as giving yourself time and patience to change hard-stuck habits. Have the wisdom to understand which habits are hurting you the most, and which can hang around a while longer without doing much damage. Do not put up with “haters,” who try to coerce, embarrass, or trick you into breaking your healthy lines. SELF RESPECT is a KEY to drawing great lines. When we respect our self highly, we tend to make respectful choices.