Enhancing Your Vitality
Fatigue, frequent infections, and chronic, conditions, (such as asthma, allergies, skin conditions, headaches, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer) are common occurrences in our culture. If you are experiencing these or other adverse health conditions, your health care provider can work up a health plan specific to your case after taking a complete case history and doing any appropriate physical exam and lab tests. Whether or not you are experiencing any of these, there are measures you can take on your own to treat or prevent ailments, which decrease your vitality. By doing so, you can enhance your sense of well-being and freedom from disease.
While your nutritionist/dietitian can make a specific dietary plan based on your particular case, some general healthful guidelines are as follows:
- Eat Whole Foods, Especially of Plant Origin Whole foods are excellent sources of nutrients as they occur in nature. This is also a good way to increase fiber intake. Fiber allows normal elimination of waste products through the colon, causing decreased absorption of toxins. Fiber can also bind cholesterol and breakdown products of intestinal bacteria, hastening their departure from the body.
- Eat Fresh Vegetables and Fruits Besides providing fiber as discussed above; these foods are good sources of vitamins and minerals, which are required for enzyme reactions and overall health. They are also sources of carotenes and bioflavonoids, which scavenge free radicals, preventing tissue damage, inflammation, cancer, migraines, arthritis, vascular disease, etc.
- Drink lots of water 2 liters (64 oz) of water per day keeps cells hydrated and speeds up the removal of waste products from the body.
- Avoid Sugar Sugar depresses the immune system and competes with Vitamin C for uptake by white blood cells.
- Avoid Processed Foods Between the food additives and the decreased nutrients, they not only provide inferior nutrition, but may also have damaging effects.
- Avoid Foods to Which You Suspect You Are Allergic In addition to creating mucus, drowsiness, gas, etc., it is clearly compromising to the body to be repeatedly exposed to substances it can’t tolerate. In addition, these foods can cause asthma, eczema, arthritis, migraines, and other chronic conditions as well as susceptibility to acute infections.
Avoid Caffeine: Caffeine causes increased secretion of adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) from the adrenal glands, which suppresses the immune system. Coffee also irritates the digestive system, causing food to move through more quickly and decreasing nutrient absorption.
Stress Reduction: Living with less stress not only feels better, but there are concrete explanations for its effect on overall health. Stress decreases the body’s ability to fight infections. Stress also impairs digestion. Life is meant to be fulfilling and enjoyable. Yet it is so common in our culture to feel overwhelmed by life situations. If stress is a major part of your life and you feel you have no options, consult an emotional and/or occupational counselor. Living with an unpleasant situation can not only decrease your happiness, but can impair your overall health, contributing to conditions as serious as high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, etc. Conversely, laughter and enjoyment increase immunity as well as well-being.
Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol suppresses immune function. In addition, in order to detoxify the body of alcohol, it places quite a load on the liver, impairing its ability to participate in its other functions, including energy production.
Avoid Tobacco: Tobacco not only damages the tissue of the respiratory system with which it comes in contact, but it also creates free radicals which damage tissue elsewhere, especially blood vessels, allowing the buildup of cholesterol plaque, causing the condition called atherosclerosis, or hardening/narrowing of the arteries. The cancer causing agents in tobacco increases the risk of cervical cancer. Smoking also depresses the immune system and causes Vitamin C deficiency. It is a source of carbon monoxide, a toxin to the body.
Exercise increases respiration and circulation. Thus, more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the tissue and waste products are removed more quickly. Exercise also relieves stress and enhances well-being. Note: For many patients, it may be advisable to consult one’s health care provider for guidance in designing an exercise program if not already accustomed to exercise.