“A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison.”~ Francis Bacon
English Philosopher and Author
I strongly believe that success and wellness go hand in hand. If you have followed me for a while or seen me speak live, you may know that I had a scary health issue many years ago. During that time, I became very aware of how much our physical health and wellbeing plays a role in our overall success in life. Sometimes a health issue sneaks up on us, and sometimes we make choices that diminish our physical well-being. We eat foods that take a toll on our bodies, we forego proper sleep, or we fail to set aside time for sufficient exercise and end up feeling lethargic. Our brains are foggy, and our bodies don’t operate at their highest level. When the body is uncomfortable, it limits not only physical activities but also the full experience of life. Your body is the vehicle your spirit uses to get around in the world. It should be as comfortable and well tuned as possible for as long as possible so that you will be able to enjoy all that life has to offer.
What is the quickest path to physical comfort and well-being?
There are countless diet books, fitness experts, doctors, and gurus of all shapes and sizes claiming to have the answer to that very question. However, if you were to choose just one thing that would ultimately change almost every aspect of your physical well being, it would be this: reduce inflammation.
Do you get plenty of sleep but still feel fatigued throughout the day?
Do you have brain fog, general achiness or difficulty losing weight no matter what diets you have tried?
These are all symptoms of low-level chronic inflammation, and they steal our physical and mental energy, keeping us from functioning at our highest levels. Inflammation causes more than just discomfort; it is the root of almost all disease here in the US (and many other countries as they become more and more westernized). Multiple studies have now shown that arthritis, IBS, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even Alzheimer's disease are all linked to chronic low-level inflammation(1). If you can get to the root of inflammation and stop it in its tracks, you can stop it from wreaking havoc in your body. According to Dr. Andrew Luster, of the Center for Immunology and Inflammatory Diseases at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital: "It's a smoldering process that injures your tissues, joints, and blood vessels, and you often do not notice it until significant damage is done”(2).
By finding simple ways to give our bodies real food for fuel, proper sleep and daily movement, we take back our power to enjoy not only physical well-being but also a clearer mental and emotional state with which to create the life we truly desire.
That last part is the kicker. Rather than wait until the damage is done and symptoms surface, why not prevent the damaging effects of inflammation in the first place? Of course, the right kind of inflammation does serve a purpose in healing our bodies. We
want white blood cells rushing to the site when we scrape a knee. A fever in response to a virus invading our body is a good thing. However, when our poor dietary choices and daily stress levels create imbalances that cause the inflammatory processes to be turned on continuously, it can lead to autoimmune disorders and other diseases.
By finding simple ways to give our bodies real food for fuel, proper sleep and daily movement, we take back our power to enjoy not only physical well-being but also a clearer mental and emotional state with which to create the life we truly desire. We often seek healing and comfort in pharmaceuticals that often only mask symptoms without getting to the root of the problem. It is not necessary to keep searching; there is in fact, a working model for building and maintaining a healthy body. Look at the cultures with the oldest and healthiest populations and watch what they have been doing.
What is their secret? Here are the main habits of the oldest and healthiest people on earth:
• Daily physical activity; walking or biking most places
• Eating locally produced whole foods and very little (if any) processed foods
• Eating a largely plant-based diet
• Consuming small portions
• Enjoying close social connections
• Having a purpose; a reason to get up every day
These habits result in low rates of stress, obesity, and chronic inflammation, in turn, lowering the incidence of chronic illness so that the body can enjoy its highest levels of energy and overall well-being. These are not only the habits of the oldest populations on earth; most case studies, documentaries, and books focusing on those who have healed themselves from “incurable” diseases recommend following these same guidelines.
In the next few weeks, I will be covering foods to avoid (the biggest inflammatory culprits), foods you can add into your diet to help reduce inflammation, and additional habits you can put into place that will keep you feeling your best so you can enjoy life at the highest level. Choose one habit of the oldest and happiest people on earth from the list above, make it a part of your life this week and see how great you’ll feel.
1) M.M. Bosma-den Boer, M.L. Van Wetten, L. Pruimboom. “Chronic Inflammatory Diseases are Stimulated by Current Lifestyle: How Diet, Stress Levels and Medication Prevent Our Body from Recovering.” Nutrition and Metabolism Journal Article (London). (2012 Apr 17): 9(1):32. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-9-32.
2) Harvard Men's Health Watch; Harvard Medical School. Article: Playing with the fire of inflammation: Inflammation Plays a Central Role in Healing, but Left to Run Wild, this Process Can Lead to Arthritis, Heart Disease, and Alzheimer's: Interview with Andrew Luster MD Mass General Hospital. (2016 August)