More than ever, scientific research is uncovering the fact that many of the major lifestyle diseases—including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes—affecting Australians today are largely the result of the way we live. And for each positive lifestyle change we make, we decrease the odds of developing these diseases in the first place. The philosophy behind Gr8Health is that everyone can optimise their own health by following the 8 Key Natural Health Principles, which have been validated by scientific research. The first step to better health may be as simple as changing what we eat and drink – and this is the first of the 8 Natural Health Principles – Nutrition.
The first step to better health may be as simple as changing what we eat and drink! Eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts will prevent many diseases and even cause others to disappear. Obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, some types of diabetes, and many cancers can be prevented through basic lifestyle changes. A vegan or vegetarian diet can supply all the necessary dietary ingredients to achieve and maintain great health. The prestigious Mayo Clinic endorses a plant-based diet; even The American Dietetic Association has stated that an appropriately planned plant-based diet is healthful. More and more researchers, physicians, and nutritionists are beginning to echo the same call to “Go plant-based!” A plant-based diet ensures that we get the most antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals with the least amount of calories. Talk about eye-popping appeal to stimulate your appetite! The brightly colored plant pigments of red, orange, yellow, blue, and deep-green have an added bonus: They all fight disease! All these beautiful pigments have an abundance in health-giving phytochemicals. Science backs up this long-term plant-based diet philosophy, including the renowned research study completed by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD titled, Resolving the Coronary Artery Disease Epidemic through Plant-Based Nutrition, which shows the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Over the past fifteen years, numerous studies have shown that exercise plays a vital role in better physical and mental health. Generally speaking, people who engage in regular physical activity experience a better quality of life, a better functional capacity, and a better mood. See just one of these studies from the Department of Psychology and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami. Research evidence also irrefutably demonstrates the effectiveness of regular physical activity in the prevention of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and osteoporosis. All exercise should be done in moderation, especially if just starting out, and in consultation with your healthcare provider. However, the important point is to “start moving.” You won’t believe how good you feel!
We all know water is the best hydrator, but did you know that water has also been found to be an effective natural agent in weight loss? Two studies testing both adults and children found that increased water consumption leads to increased weight loss. A study published in Obesity Research Journal (February 2010) found that adults who drank 500ml of water before a meal over a twelve-week period showed a 44-percent greater decline in weight than adults who did not drink water. In children, one study found that providing regular, consistent water at school resulted in a 31-percent reduced risk of being overweight. Drinking more water—nature’s best purifier—was also found to have the following benefits:
The best-known benefit of sunlight is its ability to boost your body’s vitamin D supply. Most cases of vitamin D deficiency are due to a lack of outdoor sun exposure. At least one thousand genes—governing virtually every tissue in the body—are thought to be regulated by the active form of vitamin D, including several involved in calcium metabolism and neuromuscular and immune system functioning. Medical research also shows that a lack of sun exposure and vitamin D deficiency may lead to chronic illnesses—including autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, and cancers. It has been estimated that there is a 30- to 50-percent reduction in risk for developing colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer by either increasing vitamin D intake or increasing sun exposure to raise blood levels (Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Apr, Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health & Vitamin D and Sunlight: Strategies for Cancer Prevention and Other Health Benefits, Michael F. Holick). Of course, excessive sun exposure can cause sunburn, which could lead to skin cancer. Most people need only 15 to 30 minutes of sunshine per day to obtain a healthy dose of vitamin D. Daily sunshine can also help reduce depression, improve your mood, build your immune system, and even kill off bad bacteria. So go outside!
Self-control in all areas of lifestyle is also key to better health and wellness. For instance, the most successful athletes show significant self-control in diet and exercise to obtain significant performance advantages. Many elite athletes abstain from all alcohol and drugs to achieve their high levels of performance—including Cristiano Ronaldo and Venus Williams. Self-control might often mean more than simple moderation. In some case, there is a need to completely abstain from something that can harm our health. Smoking is one primary example. Is it okay to smoke just two cigarettes per day? No! Research has shown that the only guaranteed health benefit is complete abstinence from cigarettes.
Air quality has become a particular concern among health professionals around the world because of the deadly effects of pollution. The importance of clean air has been known for some time. In 1992, for instance, a study titled Valuing the Health Benefits of Clean Air (Feb 14) showed that people living in Southern California (e.g., Los Angeles) faced an increased risk of early death due to poor air quality. Getting clean, fresh air is not always easy to manage when you work in offices and cities, but you should always take every step you can to improve the air you breathe. Here are a few things you can do today:
For peak mental and physical performance, regular adequate rest is key. Of course, that can be especially hard today in a time when we are tempted more and more to get less rest so we can keep up with the pace of society. There are more energy drinks and more ‘no-sleeping’ pills to keep us up later and “more alert.” But is less rest improving performance and productivity? Numerous studies show that when comparing groups that do not rest with those that do, more errors are made. One such report showed that hospital staff that did not rest adequately at night increased the number of errors they made the following day by nearly 40 percent! One group of individuals that took a full day of rest for renewal were shown to live 8 to 10 years longer due in part to the condition of rest. Scientific research also shows that chronic sleep loss not only increases the severity but also hastens the onset of age-related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and memory loss (Lancet, October 23, 1999).
The human body is amazingly complex. Even the best scientists and engineers cannot come close to replicating the beauty and performance of your body! The more we study the human body, the more apparent it becomes that we are governed by immutable, pre-set natural laws—that when broken result in disease and decay. For example, we need quality air, water, and food. These are pre-set, immutable laws that must be obeyed if we want to remain alive. Without air, we die in minutes. Without water, we die in days. Without food, we die in weeks. And try going without sleep and see how long you last. Our bodies need rest—it is part of our design. But what about spirituality? Do we need to love and be loved just as much as we need air and water? Does having meaning and purpose also improve our health? Recently, researchers have begun to more carefully investigate human spirituality: the need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life. The research shows that the spiritual dimension—hope, belief, faith—is important for the attainment of an overall sense of health, well-being, and quality of life. The evidence even suggests that spirituality helps certain groups live longer and overcome illness faster. Up until the mid-1950’s, most people thought that the unique design of the human body was the product of a Designer. But for the past sixty years, there has been a change away from this thinking; the popular view is that the body is the product of random chance—which means, by definition, we would have no true meaning or purpose or design. But it’s clear that we do! After all, what comes first—the design or the Designer? The most recent research is showing that we function optimally not only when we follow our pre-set health principles—but also when we have real meaning and purpose. SOURCES: 1. Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and healthy eating: Functions of water in the body. 2. Everyday Health: 10 tips for better digestive health. 3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Constipation.
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