What do we need to do to get—and stay—healthy? Just about everybody has some ideas about that one.
Some say we should get regular medical advice, keep a close eye on what we eat, control our emotions, work on our internal energy, do more exercise, live positively, and so on.
It’s very easy nowadays for people to get information and form their own opinion. There’s the Internet, but also specialized exhibitions and conferences that enable us to obtain valid information provided by experts, each in their own field.
We thus have the necessary resources to complete our answer to the question. But we often find that getting all-in useful solutions in terms of staying healthy is not so easy. Managing our emotions while continuing to eat food that has negative effects on the body is not the smartest way to sustainable health…
I’m carefully pointing out these things because I’m convinced that the answer to the question can only be holistic—looking at the whole person. We also need to consider people as individuals and seek what is best for each depending on current health and lifestyle, plus their psychological history, and emotions.
The whole man, the whole woman… and of course there’s no miracle solution, for if there was, there would be no question to ask.
I prefer to leave the task of determining what is necessary for us individually to naturopaths, specialist doctors, dieticians, nutritionists, energetics specialists, hypnotists, coaches, psychiatrists, etc; while the top experts have the daunting task of teaching us that by working on ourselves we can solve our Health issues.
I would just like to contribute in my own small way by very simply summing up what I read, see, and hear about health. As a fervent defender of healthy food La Cuisine de Lucie tweets out information daily to help people be more aware that monitoring what we eat helps ensure that “our children’s lives will not be 10 years shorter than ours”, as popular chef Jamie Oliver puts it.
Lastly, thanks to articles in medical journals, plus food experiments, plus statistics drawn from long, large reports covering several years, I don’t think it’s too difficult—in our present state of knowledge—to spell out some simple, basic rules in just a few lines that lay the foundations of our Capital Health House. So let’s go!
THE 4 BASIC PRINCIPLES
- Move, move, move! Essential to burn our calories, but that’s not all… It’s also a matter of mental balance. During physical activity our stressful negative thoughts fade away. The equivalent of 30 minutes brisk walking per day is recommended! It’s also possible to be more active simply by walking more from place to place, or when working at home; or with an exercise bike while watching favorite TV shows. Click here for some more ideas (in French)!
- Let’s make sure our body’s energy networks are working properly. Short explanation: we are endowed with enough vital energy to enable our heart to beat, and help us fight stress and illness. This energy is not endless, but as we have to use it, we can also regenerate it in different ways. This is a varied and complex domain and it is important to choose the people we work with so that we can improve our energy circulation. Find out more about what acupuncturists—those energy-line workers—can achieve (in French)! For those who don’t have enough time or money to consult a specialist though, here’s a simple way to regenerate lost energy. For three minutes, three times a day: concentrate on breathing in for five to six seconds and then out for five seconds. This method improves cardiac coherence, as therapist Christine Angelard explains very well (in French).
- “Let’s control our emotions”. Not so easy, I can hear you say. In actual fact, our emotions play a role in the illnesses we develop. They are very closely related to all our discomforts. I suggest you listen to Jacques Martel from Quebec, an expert and well-known speaker on the subject (in French).
- Do we belong to a category of people with a high-level ‘ability’ to develop organic diseases? There again, we are not all equal. Some have a higher disease-contracting capacity than others. We need to be aware about metabolic syndromes to understand what priorities we should give the different means we have at our disposal to correct what may be leading us to illnesses and diseases.
WHAT ABOUT NUTRITION?
Nutritionally speaking, some general principles are always essential. If we respect them we shall be in perfect harmony with the four previous points.
- First, eat three or four times a day. A full breakfast containing lipids, carbohydrates and proteins. Never skip the first meal of the day. That would be a sure way to feel uncomfortable for most of the morning and even the whole day. A fruit may complete the first meal a bit later in the morning. The midday meal should also be complete, with the three essential nutrients. For those involved in intense physical or mental activity, a snack at 4pm is possible. Dinner at seven, or a shade later, with foods containing fibers, plus vegetables and fruits (with moderate sugar content). Proteins are too much for evening meals.
- In practical terms that means the food we put on our plates must respect these principles: five fruits and vegetables per day (in French); meat once or twice a week at the most. Red meat—beef, lamb, mutton, horse, bull—should be avoided as much as possible. In addition to the carcinogenic substances that develop during cooking, red meats also contain a large amount of L-carnitine which, under the action of our intestine bacteria, is transformed and builds up cholesterol in our arteries (in French)! Beware of eating too many pork and delicatessen dishes (in French), and processed meats: studies carried out over long timespans tend to show links with increased risk of premature death. Poultry should be eaten without lipid-rich skin.
- Some generalities: saturated fatty acids should be kept to a minimum (some vegetable oils such as palm oil, meat, milk, cheese, pork specialties) as they increase cholestorolemia, trans fats (beef, mutton, cow and goat dairy products, some frying oils, cakes, puff pastry containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, etc.). Salt sparingly and replace refined sugar (in French)! Use wheat flour, stop using white flour.
- To wind up, I must mention the Mediterranean diet—highly praised by review critics—with omega-3 that should be preferred as priority over omega-6, widely present in foodstuffs. We should direct our consumption of proteins to legumes, cereals and fish (twice a week). Eat nuts. Move toward food rarely used in western countries—edible seaweeds (algae) that contain large quantities of nutrients and mineral acids.
- A footnote for vegetarians: your diet is good and healthy but beware of deficiencies of vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, iron and calcium. The nutritional completeness of algae can help that.
Our health is our most precious asset. Thanks to our health we can live as well as possible and help our nearest and dearest when they are in need. It is difficult to understand why health (and all that it involves) is not taught in schools along with subjects like science, mathematics and history. If we can show future generations how to better maintain their health we shall have done much of the work that falls to us here on Earth—transmitting the knowledge required to preserve our planet and the people who live there. We can then say (to misquote Voltaire):
“I’ve decided to live healthy because it’s good to be happy!”.