by Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
“How can I get healthy?” It’s a common question. With so many websites and books claiming that you can get healthy fast with such-and-such a diet or one amazing superfood, it’s easy to get confused. No one-size-fits-all approach works for everyone. However, I have discovered in my 30 years of practice that there are 5 essentials to the recovery and maintenance of optimum health.
- Proper Nourishment
I can never say enough about the power of proper nourishment. It is virtually impossible to be a healthy, vibrant person if your diet consists largely of junk. Many of the synthetic ingredients in junk food have been proven to cause, or contribute to, persistent headaches, neurological disturbances, digestive abnormalities, autoimmune disease, cancer, and more.
I’ve never been an advocate for extreme or fad diets. I simply advise my patients to remove as many synthetic “non-foods” from their diet as possible. This includes conventionally-raised produce. I believe organic produce is best but if the cost is prohibitive for you, visit a local farm and talk with the staff.
Oftentimes, farmers do not use pesticides but cannot afford the right to label their food as organic. Foods purchased from your local farm are fresher, more nutrient-rich, and often far less expensive than what you can find on sale at your favorite supermarket.
A diet filled with organic (or organically-grown) produce, beans, nuts, seeds, grass-fed beef, organic poultry, wild-caught fish, eggs, and healthy fats like butter and coconut oil nourish your body and boost your immune system so you’re better able to fight and prevent chronic disease.
Visit LocalHarvest.org to find a family farm near you.
- Optimal Vitamin D3 Levels
Sub-optimal vitamin D3 levels are one of the most common hidden causes of chronic disease and low immunity. According to an article published in the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition[1. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/4/1080S.full] vitamin D3 deficiency has been shown to cause rickets in children, and can be a contributing factor in autoimmune disease, hypertension, infectious disease, and certain types of cancer.
I recommend anyone struggling with a chronic illness be evaluated for vitamin D3 deficiency. The Vitamin D, 25 Hydroxy Kit from Direct Labs is the most accurate test I have found to detect this common nutritional deficiency.
I recommend a target range of 40-80 ng/ml.
Once you place your order, it will be delivered to your door and you can take it to any nearby LabCorp location to have your blood drawn. You and your doctor will have your results in 5-7 business days.
If results reveal a vitamin D3 deficiency, you can optimize your levels with my Diamond Nutritional’s Vitamin D3-5,000 supplement. It provides a strong, revitalizing boost of healing D3 to get your levels back up to optimum levels.
- Emotional Well-Being
According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network[2. http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/complex-trauma/effects-of-complex-trauma], traumatic childhood experiences have been linked to the development of chronic disease in adulthood.
If you have experienced a trauma in childhood (or as an adult), it is important to release these events in a safe, healthy way. I recommend journaling, a support group, and/or individual counseling, and what I feel is the most important…. spiritual healing.
I would also like to note that if you have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, there are many physical causes that may need to be addressed before psychiatric drugs are prescribed.
Nutritional deficiencies, thyroid disease, diabetes, gluten intolerance, chronic candida infection and autoimmune disease can all contribute to the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Talk with your doctor about testing.
If your doctor is less-than-receptive to conducting these tests, please feel free to contact me. I offer one-on-one natural health coaching and can help you gain access to the medical tests you need and the right holistic treatments for your condition.
- Adequate Physical Activity
A completely sedentary lifestyle can have serious consequences for your health including obesity, heart disease, and an increased risk for the development of certain types of cancer.
According to research,[3. http://ajl.sagepub.com/content/5/4/338.abstract], moderate exercise gives your immune system a boost by enhancing the recirculation of immunoglobulins, neutrophils, and natural killer cells.
Take care not to overdue it, however. Overtraining can cause an altered focus of your immune system to spend most of its resources rebuilding and repairing your muscle tissue with not a lot left over to protect you from disease.[4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12696983] With your doctor’s O.K.,
I recommend, at a minimum, 30 minutes of exercise three times per week. If you’re a beginner, start slowly and work up to a level that is comfortable for you.
- Deep, Uninterrupted Sleep
I started with nutrition and ended with sleep because they are the two “bookends” of optimum health. Millions of people struggle with insomnia and have developed a dependency on prescription sleep aids. This is unfortunate because while these sleep aids may work temporarily, they don’t address the underlying causes of insomnia.
Healthy adults should get a minimum of seven hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep each night. Those with chronic health problems should aim for at least nine. I recommend sleeping in a cool room with the blinds or shades drawn to regulate the sleep hormone, melatonin within your body. No laptops or cell phones by the bed unless they’re turned off.
If you’re having difficulty sleeping, you may have a magnesium deficiency. Adding a chelated magnesium supplement to your diet may be all you need to go from counting sheep to catching Zs.
While these essentials to optimum health won’t immediately cure a chronic disease, they will give you the building blocks you need to build a strong, healthy immune system that will support you for the rest of your life.