One of the challenges in functional health is figuring out where to start. With the approach being different than the symptom management model it can be overwhelming as one attempts to uncover the root causes of the malfunctioning of our body. Another challenge is looking at our health challenges from the perspective of a healthy body that is no longer in a state of homeostasis. When our presupposition is our body was designed to function in that state and when it is not functioning as intended then we focus on what factors disrupt the natural balance and which factors promote balance. So what are some of those things? And, which of those things take priority?
The top five areas which impact our health the greatest are:
How many of us have worked really hard at one or two, maybe even three, of these and we still come up against roadblocks in our journey to good health? In recent months our physician and I have been looking at the things which are working for my son, what’s not and where can we improve. Out of these top five we have two of them down pat – knock out of the park grand-slams! One of these we do ok with, better than the average American and two of them we struggle with – BIG TIME!
So what makes these five things the most important? Well, they work in harmony. When we take one of these out of the equation things begin to malfunction. Each of them by themselves directly impact our health. Let’s take a brief look at each one:
This one is probably the most understood and the one we embrace the most. What we eat. In every facet of life whether food, vehicles, electronics -the quality of the building blocks have a direct impact on the final product. When we eat things which are food-like and not real food we are providing low quality building materials for our body to work with. At some point we will get what we pay for. Just as we get what we put into our retirement accounts, our health in latter years will be a return on what we invested earlier in life.
There are several blogs which I follow that have some amazing posts which reflect on our childhood years. Do you ever remember asking why you needed to take a nap? Why did you have to go to bed so early? The answer I always received was – that was the time my body repairs, the more I rest the more I will grow. Of course I couldn’t wait to grow up so that usually motivated me to take that nap or head to bed!
Our bodies need time to rest. We have a lot of demands for our time and energy. Just as we don’t leave our vehicles running all the time we shouldn’t keep our bodies running all the time. They need time to repair from the daily toils from our day to day life. If we continually ‘burn the candle at both ends’, the wick is going to burn out. If we keep our engine going without down time it is going to overheat. The same with our bodies – it will start to malfunction.
This one is HUGE! I don’t know about you, but I have heard this many times “stress affects your health”. Yeah, yeah and I shrug it off going about my stressful life… Well, I am not sure I am able to articulate how vital eliminating and reducing stress are to a healthy functioning body.
The best illustration I have is our vehicles again -if we drove it off-road continuously putting stress on the suspension the suspension system is going to fail. If we ran into curbs every time we park our vehicle it will cause damage. The kicker is our body has a way to deal with these repairs on a daily basis – the problem is those ‘internal bandages’ can cause more malfunction when we have everything bandaged up!
This is one of those two areas my family, especially myself, struggles with. The only answer I have found to effectively handle stress is a connection with our Creator. My spiritual life has impacted my stress where nothing else would help. Finding the peace from our Creator can do amazing things for our health!
This is the second most accepted concept to good health. Diet and exercise, right? Isn’t that what everyone says? Well – it is true!! Well, partially – its those PLUS the other ones listed. But, lets look at exercise.
Did you know when you exercise your endothelium(lining of the blood vessels) releases nitric oxide? In 1998 Robert F. Furchgott, Louis J. Ignarro and Ferid Murad were awarded the Nobel Peace prize “for their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system”. What does nitric oxide do? It helps to maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, regulating clotting and blood flow, to name a few. Basically it helps to promote healthy cardiovascular function. Sort of like having a built in fuel system cleaner in a vehicle – wouldn’t that be neat!!
What happens with our fuel system in our vehicles when it gets dirty? The engine starts running rough, right? Sometimes it causes other problems as well. Our bodies are very similar, if our cardiovascular system is not working as designed, it starts to malfunction. Exercise promotes a smooth running system.
So what if we are eating great foods, amazing sleep, no stress and we exercise regularly – we should be all set to a healthy body right? Ah there is still another piece of the puzzle which needs to be in place – digestion! If we are not assimilating the wonderful foods our bodies are not going to have access to the building blocks needed for repairing from daily life.
Again I like the illustration of our vehicles. If our fuel system has a clog and the gas is unable to get to the spark plugs, the engine is not going to work. Or if the gas that is getting through but its not flowing at the proper rate, the engine is going to run rough.
Having a properly functioning digestive system is another vital part in achieving that highly sought after homeostasis, referred to as good health. This one is perhaps one of the most difficult to correct since many processes are intertwined with others. When our system is disrupted it often seems like trying to get untangled from a spiderweb. Which often loops back to stress as we attempt to untangle our digestive mess.
So what do we do now? How do we return these areas to a balance which promotes healthy function?
Support. Surround yourself with others who are supportive in your journey. It is amazing what can be accomplished when you have others to help carry your burdens. Just remember, we have to share that we have a need for folks to have the opportunity to help 😉
Your comments and questions are always welcome! I hope this is beneficial to you or someone you love! Thanks for stopping by!