Today, I’d like to talk about lifestyle and why it affects the quality of our health. I’m going to keep the discussion high level. The details are discussed in my book, The Simple Seven, a comprehensive general health and wellness book and the foundation for my practice. Please vitas the Books page of this website to learn more.
The title, The Simple Seven — the number 7 — refers to 7 things that you and I are responsible for doing in caring for our bodies. It’s like an owner’s manual, and it’s based on how the human body is designed. The 7 things are:
#1: Eat. You and I need to eat, to eat food because food contains nutrients that power our bodies to do everything: walk, write a report, sing, meditate, open a car door, smile, and so on. Also bodily processes, like digestion and respiration. Nutrients power body helpers — neurotransmitters, hormones, enzymes, and the body’s trillions of cells. Cells that make up tissues, organs, bones, and more. Nutrients power the body to do everything.
#2: Drink. We drink liquids, beverages and such. But the idea is about drinking water. We need to drink water because water is also a nutrient that also powers the body to do everything.
#3: Move. Human beings are designed to move, to be mobile. We have hundreds, thousands of muscles and connective tissue that enable us to walk, run, jump, reach, twist, turn, dance, shoot hoops, get up from the sofa, snap our fingers, and more.
#4: Sleep. You and I are designed to sleep — at night. That’s when the body follows a natural rhythm and cycle and performs maintenance, repair and regeneration. All done at night because the body doesn’t have time during the day when we’re commanding it to do other things.
#5: Breathe. The human body is mechanically designed to inhale oxygen, another nutrient that powers the body to do everything, and to exhale carbon dioxide, which is a waste byproduct of metabolism. Our bodies are designed to clear waste, not accumulate it.
#6: Clear. Speaking of waste, the body is designed to clear other waste. Here, I’m referring to having a bowel movement, of which the waste is mostly digestive waste but also other bodily waste. Waste is also cleared through urination.
And finally #7: Feel, as in feelings or emotions. Human beings are designed to be emotional. You and I are designed to have feelings, to feel them, and to express them. Everyone of us. Without exception.
So these 7 things that you and I are responsible for doing in caring of our bodies — eat, drink, move, sleep, breathe, clear, and feel — taken together, is what is commonly referred to as lifestyle.
How we do these seven things determines whether our lifestyle is healthy or unhealthy.
A healthy lifestyle gives the body what it needs to function properly, optimally, to be your very best, and to experience vibrant health. The human body is designed for vibrant healthAn unhealthy lifestyle doesn’t give the body what it needs to function properly or optimally, let alone vibrantly. An unhealthy lifestyle burdens the body, making it work harder than it has to, for even simple, basic things. You feel tired for no apparent reason. Have aches and pains. Unclear thinking. You feel run down — and maybe even look run down. You see, your appearance, what you see on the outside, is a reflection of the quality of your health, or what’s going on inside. Over time, an unhealthy lifestyle begins to take a toll on the body, breaking it down, and health problems begin, leading to the development of the major illnesses — heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and obesity. Which are all preventable through a healthy lifestyle.
But there’s more.
Something special happens when the body isn’t burdened and weighed down by an unhealthy lifestyle, when it does receive what it needs to function optimally. The body begins to tap into additional built-in mechanisms that maintain and sustain vibrant health.
In other words, it’s only when the body is humming along, happy and healthy, that it will trigger additional brilliant, health-enhancing, healing, reparative, regenerative, and might I add, anti-aging mechanisms that increase longevity. I’ll discuss a few of these mechanisms in a moment. This is how vibrant health is attained. This is the holy grail of health. This is available to you now, if you want it.
But understand this: there isn’t a quick way to get there. There isn’t a magic pill to take or a 30 minute procedure to do. The only way to get there is to give your body what it needs through a healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, it’s simple to do. Brilliantly, your body knows what to do from there. It’s intelligently designed to make vibrant health happen and it will.
The Simple Seven explains how to do the 7 things that make up a healthy lifestyle. I call them body basics. The 7 body basics are:
#1: With regard to eating, the idea is to eat fresh food. I define fresh food as food that comes straight from the land or seas. For example, it’s what you see in the meat and produce department at the grocery store. It’s fresh. Fresh food, because it comes straight from the source, is packed with the most nutrients. If you want vibrant health, you need to eat food that’s packed with the most nutrients. There’s an additional benefit: Fresh food is also packed with the most flavor. And you can even eat fat — in fact, your body needs fat, to function properly and if you want beautiful, youthful skin — it just has to be fresh.
Body basic #2: Drink. the idea is to stay hydrated. Not just to hydrate, but to stay hydrated. There’s a difference. You stay hydrated, mostly by drinking water. Because water is hydrating, whereas nearly every beverage, for one reason or another, is dehydrating. The good news is, staying hydrated doesn’t involve chugging 8 glasses of water a day or completely giving up your favorite beverages.
Body basic #3: Move. The idea is to keep moving, constantly, all day long, whenever you can. Furthermore, to move vigorously, which means to raise your heart rate and work up a sweat, commonly referred to as doing cardio. I call it moving vigorously because you don’t have to go to the gym and do cardio on an exercise bike in order to raise your heart rate. You can raise your heart rate climbing the steps at work instead of taking the elevator, raking leaves or in your leisure time riding your bike. That’s what I do. Moving vigorously triggers a myriad of mechanisms that keep you healthy. Neurotransmitters that make you feel good, what’s referred to as a runner’s high. Balancing your eating, sleeping, and reproductive hormones so that you’re not always hungry, you sleep well, and women, you don’t have PMS. Importantly, triggering the production of the youth-enhancing hormone, human growth hormone.
Body basic #4: Sleep. The idea is to get enough restful sleep. The emphasis isn’t on the number of hours you sleep, it’s on getting enough restful sleep. Why? Because when you wake up in the morning feeling rested, it means that your body has had enough time to complete its nightly maintenance, repair and regeneration. The added benefit is that you’ll look great, which is why we call it beauty sleep.
Body basic #5: Breathe. The idea is to take a few deep breaths throughout your day. This is a good practice because living in today’s modern world is stressful, and our days are filled with a stream of stressful moments. Taking a few deep breaths throughout your day will help your body get additional oxygen and clear toxic carbon dioxide in what may be any number of stressful moments. Furthermore, taking a few deep breaths will help you relieve stress and anxiety on the spot. Not to mention that it will make your skin glow.
Body basic #6: Clear. The idea is to clear your bowel every day. And it’s easier than you think. All that’s required is eating fiber and staying hydrated. Body basics #1 & #2 get the job done: Eating fruit and vegetables, which are rich in fiber, and staying hydrated drinking water. The added benefit is that an empty bowel signals the rest of the body to move its waste to the bowel to be cleared. So, you get all-over body clearing.
Body basic #7: Feel. The idea is to do what makes you feel good. When you do work that you love, make time to play as hard as you work, when you spend time with people who love you and make you feel good about yourself, laughing and loving, your body produces a myriad of neurotransmitters that keep you healthy. Seratonin, dopamine, oxytocin. It’s also important to be in touch with your feelings, the good and the bad. Dealing with painful feelings may be difficult in the moment, but doing so makes you feel better in the long run.
So, these are the 7 body basics that constitute a healthy lifestyle. Certainly, there are more details to understand with regard to food and diet, exercise, stress management, and so on. Again, all the details are discussed in the The Simple Seven book and I’ll talk about them in other blog posts.
But now, let’s talk about what happens when we do the opposite of the 7 body basics, what happens when our lifestyle is unhealthy.
#1: Eat. Well, the opposite of eating fresh food is eating processed food. Processed food is not packed with the most nutrients. In fact, most processed foods have very few nutrients. Processed food starts off as fresh food, but in the processing, nutrients are stripped out and other substances are usually added, often, harmful substances. Which burdens the body. Table salt is an example of a processed food. Table salt starts off as a fresh food but in the processing, vital trace minerals are stripped out and toxic bleaching and anti-clumping agents are used, producing an inferior salt that the body struggles to metabolize. Which doesn’t happen with fresh food salt, such as Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt, because these salts are not processed.
#2: Drink. If you’re not staying hydrated drinking water, then you’re drinking beverages that are dehydrating, and you’re probably drinking a lot of them. Coffee, soda, and alcohol are the most common. Even though these beverages contain water, they also contain substances that make the body use up or give up water. For example, the caffeine in coffee and soda, and the ethyl alcohol in alcoholic beverages.
#3: Move. The opposite of constantly moving is being sedentary. Perhaps the biggest problem with sedentariness is that the body doesn’t have a chance to clear stress chemicals. Stress chemicals are produced as part of the stress response, its purpose is to prepare the body for physical activity, you may have heard of fight or flight. Stress chemicals are cleared during physical activity, or moving vigorously. But that can’t happen with sedentariness. What’s worse is when sedentariness is combined with chronic stress. Over time, when the body doesn’t have an opportunity to clear a stream of constantly circulating stress chemicals, the body begins to break down.
#4: Sleep. If you don’t get enough restful sleep, your body hasn’t had enough time to complete its nightly maintenance, repair and regeneration. You wake up in the morning, feeling groggy and tired, your thinking isn’t clear, you have puffy eyes, you’re hungry all day, which over time, can lead to weight gain. Just a few years ago, it was discovered that only during sleep does the brain flush cerebrospinal fluid along its blood vessels to flush out waste that is thought to lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease when it builds up in between brain cells. This was reported in “All Things Considered” in an article entitled “Brains Sweep Themselves Clean of Toxins”. This sweeping only happens during sleep.
#5: Breathe. If we’re not taking a few deep breaths throughout the day, if we’re not helping our bodies to obtain sufficient oxygen and exhale toxifying carbon dioxide in stressful moments, not only are we not giving our bodies what they need, but over time, it can change how we breathe. With chronic stress, we can develop the habit of holding our breath or breathing shallowly — without even realizing it. We can fall into the habit of not getting enough oxygen or clearing carbon dioxide all day long.
#6: Clear. The opposite of having an effortless bowel movement every day is frequent constipation. Of course, the biggest downside to constipation is pain, but health-wise, the downside is that accumulated waste leads to bowel distress: gas, pain, bloating. Also, a stopped-up bowel stops all-over body clearing. Imagine your body’s trillions of cells trying to do their jobs, swimming in their own waste.
Finally, #7: Feel. Not doing what makes you feel good, whether it’s a job or being around people who are disrespectful, being constantly stressfully on the go, doing things you don’t like to do or want to do, not taking time to relax and care for yourself is stressful to the body. Stress is a factor in at least 75% of illness and disease. That’s a quote from the American Medical Association. Despite what other healthy things you may be doing, stress will override the gains. Furthermore, not being in touch with your feelings in the present or from the past, is stressful to the body, as well. The pain lives within the body as stress. This is more common than you think. In my practice, I’ve seen how it can be the root of depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental health and illness.
So, that should give you a good idea of what happens when we give our bodies what they need, through a healthy lifestyle and when we don’t, through an unhealthy lifestyle. The brilliant design of the human body. I’d like to talk a bit more about that brilliant design.
First, about the body’s intelligent design. Take, for example, the human body developing from a single, fertilized egg. Cells splitting and dividing, developing into individuated cells that know their specific functions in specific organs, as blood cells, in teeth and hair, and so on. Built-in intelligence that creates an adult human being from a single, fertilized egg. It’s pretty miraculous, when you think about it.
Second, the human body is adaptable and resilient. It will always make every effort to continue to function, regardless of how we care for it, for as long as it can. For example, sailors used to get sick and die from scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency, when they ran out of fruit and vegetables from being at sea for too long. Their bodies did their best to stay alive in the absence of vitamin C, but eventually perished. Although this sort of thing isn’t common today, an insufficiency of nutrients will take a toll on how well your body functions, overall.
Third, the human body is designed to repair and regenerate. Take, for example, a simple paper cut. In watching it heal, you’ll notice the difference in its size and depth as it heals with each passing day. Other than keeping it clean and putting a bandaid on it, we don’t have to do anything to make it heal. Healing happens on its own, whether we’re deficient in nutrients that it needs for that healing, for example, or not. However, an insufficiency of nutrients may affect the rate or quality of the healing. Shingles is a great example. It affects older adults who are usually deficient in nutrients, which can affect their rate of healing.
A broken bone mending is a miracle. A doctor may set a broken leg, but it’s the reparative intelligence of the human body that fuses the bone back together. And the liver can completely regenerate itself, even when it’s been reduced to a fraction of its original size.
So, you see, it’s important to realize and really appreciate just how much the body takes care of itself on its own. All we have to do are 7 simple things.
Earlier, I talked about additional mechanisms that kick in with a healthy lifestyle. I’d like to talk about two of these mechanisms.
The first is called epigenetics, and it deals with our genes. The first question we ask regarding our health is about our genetic makeup. For example, heart disease may run in your family.
Science is showing that your genes can play a role in your health, but they don’t have to. A tiny percentage of our genes designate whether diseases “run in the family,” which is another way of saying whether or not we have the potential for developing a certain disease. This doesn’t mean that the disease will develop, only that it can.
We may be stuck with the genes we’re born with, making it seem that we’re stuck with the potential for developing certain diseases. But epigenetics is changing our perspective, citing an article published in Time magazine, entitled, “Why Your DNA isn’t your destiny.”
Epigenetics is a field of biology that’s uncovering how our lifestyle can trigger a potential for disease – or not. According to epigenetics, our body places gene markers on top of our genes (“epi” means “on top of”), turning them on or off, turning the potential for a disease on or off. Which gene markers your body lays down depends upon your lifestyle. The exact number of epigenetic markers is unknown, but conservative estimates are at least in the millions.
Consider the power of epigenetics. Studies show that identical twins, born with the same set of genes, develop different health problems based upon their individual lifestyles, as discussed in an article in The Guardian entitled, “Why Do Identical Twins End Up Having Such Different Lives.”
Interestingly, gene markers can be passed to our offspring and future generations, implying that, along with our parents’ genes, we inherit a genetic snapshot of their lifestyles at conception. With that potential plus our own lifestyle, which is also learned and adopted from our parents, is it any wonder that diseases continue to run in families?
The second mechanism has to do with stem cells.
Stem cells may be showing great promise for curing diseases, but also as one of the foundations of good health. Stem cell scientist and expert Christian Drapeau, author of Cracking the Stem Cell Code, explains:
Stem cells are cells with the unique ability to multiply endlessly … and to transform themselves into cells of other tissues. No other cell type in the body has this ability … As far as treatments are concerned, the future of stem cell research lies in the potential of adult stem cells, present in the body after birth … [They] constitute the natural repair system of the body … [But] supporting the natural role of your own stem cells in your own body may be the best strategy to enjoy optimal health … It is striking to discover that many things we know to be healthy actually have a beneficial effect on stem cells, while many things that we know to be unhealthy have a deleterious effect on stem cell function. For example, intense physical activity, increases the number of circulating stem cells. Deep sound sleep is accompanied by the release of melatonin that was shown to support stem cell proliferation in the brain. Stress reduces the ability of stem cells to migrate in tissues and proliferate, and so does cigarette smoke … In fact, the more we look at this whole phenomenon, the more it appears that we are looking at one of the main fundamentals of human health; supporting the natural function of stem cells in the body supports the natural ability of the body to repair and stay healthy.
So, there you have it. Pointers that support why lifestyle determines the quality of your health, and more importantly, why a healthy lifestyle will help you to achieve vibrant health.
The Simple Seven © Marlene Veltre 2016-2019 All rights reserved. No portion of this post may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including recording or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of Marlene Veltre.
The information in this post is to be used for educational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice or to prevent, cure, or heal any illness or disease. You should always see your doctor or health practitioner.