“The 5 Foundations of Health” is a series of blog posts created by Birmingham Chiropractor, Dr. John Palmer. The series will cover chiropractic care and the foundations of general health including nutrition, exercise, and other educational topics that will help ensure good mental and physical health for a lifetime.The foundations I am sharing with you are tried and true. I have coached thousands of patients back to health using them. Excellent health is not a destination–it is a journey. We have helped thousands of people on the journey of health to learn to take care of their bodies using the five foundations.
Good health doesn’t happen accidentally.
To stay healthy, a person needs to lead a lifestyle that’s conducive to good health. It’s a lifelong commitment and if that commitment slips, the results can be permanent. While accidents can be one factor in deteriorating health, so can chronic diseases that might result from poor lifestyle choices. For instance, once a person has heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, those conditions aren’t necessarily curable so much as they’re treatable. A person might find him or herself on medication for life, with the symptomology of the disease improved but not the underlying problem. If you suffer from such ill health, the only way to regain it is to make systematic changes—and then stick with them.
1. Maximizing brain health and function.
The brain is responsible for the human body’s overall functioning. It regulates all the various bodily systems, ensuring that these work together to ensure optimal performance. Most people don’t stop to consider the complex biological mechanisms that are involved in walking, breathing, digesting, and even learning, but if you view the human body as a vastly intricate map and imagine that one road or more is blocked off (the brain isn’t directing ‘traffic’ as it should be), then you may have trouble concentrating. Walking might suddenly become challenging. Even digesting food may be problematic, all because vital systems aren’t getting the direction they need. As such, it’s clear that brain health is imperative for whole-body health. Bearing in mind that the brain is a muscle and that it needs to be kept in shape just like any other muscle, the brain requires regular exercise. ‘Use it or lose it’ an apt refrain. The more you do with your brain, the better it will serve you in the long-term. Mental exercises can involve everything from doing math in your head, taking a new road home, listening to a new kind of music, and developing new hobbies.
2. Spine and nervous system movement.
If the brain is the body’s traffic controller, the nervous system is the messenger. It relays all the brain’s signals to the appropriate organs, cells, and tissues. Consider a simple but clear analogy—the old game of telephone. If a signal is relayed but the line is twisted and the person down the line doesn’t get it right, neither does the next person, nor the next. Similarly, if the nervous system’s message channeling is unclear, vital bodily functions can’t be carried out. Given that the spine is the ‘telephone line,’ if it’s out of alignment, then a person can end up with declining organ health, chronic pain, and/or be otherwise physically impaired. A chiropractor’s job is to realign the spine, restoring the body’s nervous system. Once that’s in order, the body will begin to receive the necessary messages to once again heal and restore itself.
3. Micro and macro nutrients.
Even if you’re exercising your brain and your spine is in alignment, your health will still be compromised if you’re neglecting good nutrition. Your body requires the right fuel to power it through the day. If a person has lived on a fast food diet for years, the negative repercussions will ultimately be felt at the cellular level. Above, we discussed a blocked body ‘road,’ and this can be very literal in the case of arterial blockages. A plant-based diet provides many amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, essential fatty acids, vitamins, etc. Even if you think you’re eating healthily, it’s important to realize that food is so processed these days that certain key micro and macronutrients may be missing in your diet, so supplements may be necessary.
4. Optimize the delivery of oxygen, nutrients, and blood through exercise.
Exercise is a foundational element for good health. Countless studies have proved that a sedentary lifestyle leads to a significantly shortened lifespan. Earlier, we discussed exercising the brain. Your heart also needs exercise, which puts it to the test in the form of healthy aerobic stress and makes it strong. Because everything in the body is interconnected, a strong heart leads to strong lungs, which further power the delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. A chiropractor is an essential element of your health and well-being toolkit because if you’re in physical pain, you can’t be active. Chiropractors will manipulate your spine, relieve your pain, and provide your body with optimum healing conditions so you can get back on the bike, in the swimming pool, on the dance floor, etc.
5. Minimize the toxins that you put into the body.
Unfortunately, we live in a world saturated by toxins in everything from the water we drink and bathe in, to the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the personal care products we utilize on a daily basis. Eliminating all toxins is simply not possible, but you can minimize contact with them by choosing natural personal hygiene products such as soaps, lotions, toothpaste, shampoos, and deodorants. You can even make your own products at home, so you know exactly what goes in them. When house cleaning, avoid conventional chemical cleaners found in everything from fabric softeners to detergents, air fresheners, and toilet cleaners. Instead, use white vinegar and essential oils. Whenever possible, eat organic produce and if it’s not available, thoroughly scrub your fruits and vegetables to eliminate as much chemical residue as possible. Choose whole foods whose ingredients aren’t laundry lists of unpronounceable chemicals.
Ultimately, good health requires making choices every single day, whether it’s getting out of bed when you really don’t feel like exercising or opting for something other than fried chicken. You must commit, and it must be for the long-term. The reward will be a pain-free life and an aging process that is far less burdensome.It’s helpful to have a partner in health, and Friends and Family Health Centers provides that. Whether it’s chiropractic care you need, a nutritional consultation, muscle manipulation, or any number of other available services, we work to restore you to full health and then provide preventative care to keep you healthy for years to come.