With more and more people dealing with chronic illness/disease, it is important to stop and reflect on what we can do to stay healthy. Over the past 12 years serving patients as a chiropractor and after losing several relatives too soon, I have come to understand that there are five pillars to health.
If one of these pillars is collapsing, or not maintained, then that person's health is at risk of "collapsing".
Perhaps not right away, but these pillars must be maintained if a person expects to remain healthy for as long as possible and avoid chronic illness. In no particular order the five pillars of health are: Exercise, nutrition, stress, sleep and chiropractic.
It goes without saying, but exercise is a very important aspect of our overall health and arguably one of the most important pillars of health. Movement is important for basic bodily functions and those who stay moving tend to have longer healthier lives than those who are sedentary. Regular exercise can help reduce stress, blood pressure, cholesterol and it also helps keep your joints healthy. Fresh air helps our lungs too and getting your heart rate up is important for overall heart health.
The benefits of exercise are quite profound, in order to integrate exercise into your life, start with something simple but very enjoyable. It is unlikely that you will stick with regular exercise if you aren't enjoying what you are doing. This could be as simple as going for a walk or performing a simple stretching routine. Whatever you choose, keep it simple and remember how important it is.
Like it or not, our nutrition really matters. There is no getting around it, our bodies need certain nutrients to stay healthy and the best way to get that is having a healthy diet consisting of a good balance of leafy greens, protein, whole grains and dairy.
Unfortunately our food sources lack certain nutrients because our soils are depleted. This contributes to many vitamin and mineral deficiencies even in people who live in first world countries.
Fried foods and foods high in sugars contribute to high levels of inflammation. This inflammation circulates in our bodies and can contribute to chronic pain and other chronic conditions. Many of our food sources are highly processed so it is important to remember to avoid these foods. A good rule of thumb is to stick with foods that our ancestors from 100s of years ago would have eaten. Anything in a box or with a long shelf life probably isn't that good for you.
Stress can impact our health in a number of ways. First of all it impacts our mental health and leads to anxiety and depression. However, beyond the mental health impact, stress can greatly affect our physical health by leading to high blood pressure, muscle tension, headaches, elevated nervous sympathetic (fight or flight) response and many more problems that can lead to chronic health conditions.
Chronic stress can also lead to us making poor nutritional choices as we tend to reach for comfort foods and foods high in sugar when we are under pressure. It can also impact our sleep cycles causing dysregulation and mood swings. It is vitally important to get your stress under control and manage it on a day to day basis by finding some time in your day to reflect and wind down. This could be something simple like going for a walk to clear your head, or engaging in a hobby so that your mind can be distracted for a period of time. If stress becomes too difficult to manage it is a good idea to seek the help of a licensed therapist.
Most of us don't get enough sleep or have trouble sleeping. This can be due to a number of factors, which will be discussed, but the importance of a good night's sleep can't be understated because sleep is when our bodies heal and restore themselves. We need sleep for basic bodily functions but also for our mental health. Lack of sleep can cause lack of focus, depression and make everyday life difficult.
In order to get a good night's sleep, it is best to sleep in a dark room. Try to get it as dark as possible, because any amount of light can give our bodies the false impression that it is still day time and time to get up.
Also, be sure to remove any devices or phones from your bedroom. Putting your phone on "airplane mode" is an alternative, but removing them completely is best. Also, remember not to use your phone or other digital devices close to bed time. The screen on your phone emits blue light which can be quite stimulating and prevent you from being able to fall asleep.
If exercise is part of your daily routine, it is a good idea to do it during the day and not too close to bed time, as activity will stimulate you and prevent you from having a good night's sleep. A good rule is to avoid physical activity for two hours before bed time.
Our bodies are machines that require maintenance. They require proper rest, movement and nutrition if we expect them to function properly. Just like your car, it is important to take your body for a tune up on a regular basis. This is where chiropractic can play a crucial role in creating a lifetime of good health and wellness. Many people will visit a chiropractor once they are already in pain, which is certainly a great alternative to painkillers and surgery, but keeping your body in tune with regular chiropractic maintenance care can prevent pain from creeping up on you.
Those who visit chiropractors on a regular basis report, better sleep, less pain, greater range of motion and are sick less often. Chiropractic care should be an important part of everyone's wellness plan and the good news is that a chiropractic visit doesn't take too long and is not very costly. It costs much less than the average cell phone plan per visit and most people are in and out of a chiropractor's office in 20 minutes or less.
If you have questions about how to be as healthy as possible or are looking for help in these areas, contact our office at 519-751-0728 to set up a free 15 minute consultation with our doctor. Good health and wellness could be just a phone call away.