I want to address a mis-interpretation of the meaning of mind-body health. The mind and the body are ONE!
It’s not a one or the other. It is a concept of working on Both Together!
When illness happens, it’s important to work on both the cause and the symptoms at the same time! For example, when taking treatments to destroy something wrong in the body (antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation, etc.), it is highly beneficial to also replace the good cells that are destroyed in the process! If the body is depleted of the good cells (lowering the body’s natural ability to fight disease and return to normal – called homeostasis), it makes it harder for the body to fight. We become weak, frail, and have much less energy. We feel tired, and our minds have an increase in negative thoughts. And as discussed in previous blogs, these negative thoughts increase those things released in the body that result in unwanted negative reactions in our bodies—at a time when more strength is needed.
It is wonderful when massive doses of killer drugs or procedures wipe out the symptoms of a disease. Too many times we think at that point we are home free! We can go back to living the way we did before the disease interfered in our lives. We’ve won the battle! We forget two very important things:
- We forget that many normal good cells are no longer there to protect us.
- What was there before was obviously not good enough to prevent the disease from happening in the first place!
Now, after disease/illness has been conquered, is the time to consider how you were before becoming ill:
- What kind of stress is in your life? (good and bad)
- What are your eating habits, and are changes necessary?
- Do you take vitamin supplements?
- Does our food basically come from the supermarket, after being harvested before it is ripe, shipped to warehouses for sometimes months, then presented to you in a supermarket after it has lost some of its nutrient value? Or do you get most of your food fresh from the garden, being picked after it has become ripe and full of nutrients.
- Do you get enough rest, or are you challenging your body to function on less sleep than you really need? And do you sleep well?
- Do you need digestive aid pills to help digest your foods (for hard to digest foods like: milk, beans, cabbage, onions, etc.)?
- Are you often constipated or have diarrhea?
- Do you have any allergies?
- Do you have friends and/or relatives to whom you can vent? (talk about things that bother you/worry you, brag about your accomplishments, share your dreams, express your emotions of joy, sadness, or rage, or hope? Or do you stay to yourself and keep your emotions and reactions inside?
I thought about making up a quiz, adding positive and negative points to the above questions to help you determine what you need, but that makes no sense. Our bodies are different. What could be a major problem for some would be considered a minor problem for others. They say that the hardest thing in the world to do is to get to know who you really are deep inside—physically, emotionally, and mentally. When you read over the questions above, it is vitally important to be honest and true to yourself. (You can’t fool your own mind!) You don’t have to tell anyone else the answers. However, it is EXTREMELY important to be honest with yourself. At some point in time your life may very well depend on it!
There are many forms of alternative health therapies (several are planned for in depth discussions in future blogs). There are also many companies that offer vitamins and natural nutrients (pill form, liquid form, and powdered forms to mix with liquids, ingredients to make nutritional smoothies that can either supplement your diet or replace a meal).
Some doctors recommend eating yogurt after taking antibiotics, for example. This is because yogurt contains some probiotics. What are probiotics? According to Ask.Com: “Probiotics are friendly bacteria, thought to support our immune systems and enhance our health by keeping the numbers of unfriendly bacteria within our digestive systems in check.” They also replace some of the missing good bacteria that is normally found in the intestines—before you become sick and after treatments for your illness that wipe out both the good and bad bacteria in the process. The “gut,” a user-friendly term referring to the intestines, is extremely important to your immune system. Your immune system (Google for a complete definition.) is VERY complex, with multiple parts that connect to different systems in the body. For this reason, there are different kinds of probiotics (specific for the small intestine, specific for the large intestine, and specific for conditions found in women, etc.).
This is why knowing your body, what you need to improve your health, is so vitally important. I hesitate to say, contact your medical professional because at least until recently, a course in nutrition was not mandatory in medical school. Many, if not most, doctors know very little about nutrition. They are trained to treat symptoms, refer you to specialists, and prescribe pharmaceuticals. They often refer patients to nutritionists when their patients need this kind of information. A nutritionist is trained to know what nutrients are needed by patients. There are many kinds of nutritionists: dieticians, health coaches in nutrition, diet coaches, some holistic doctors, alternative medicine specialists, and many representatives of companies that produce vitamins and supplements who have become experts about their products and how they benefit the body. However, a particular company’s representative can usually only adequately explain how their company’s products can help you. They are limited (and understandably so) in knowledge about other products on the market that may be better suited for your particular situation. It is for this reason that, for those who don’t truly know their bodies, I generally suggest people find a good nutritionist, perhaps one recommended by your health care provider. Some nutritionists accept insurance. (However, it would be wise to contact your insurance company first to see if your insurance would pay for an office visit to a nutritionist!)
For those who know their body’s needs, it is a question of research. Research what is out there, available to satisfy your needs. Not all companies that sell vitamins and supplements are of equal quality. Several years ago I read the ingredients on a popular vitamin company’s label, which stated that the vitamins were coated in shellac! The vitamins looked pretty with a high shine! Unfortunately, since the body cannot digest shellac, the vitamins would only pass through the body undigested. Any benefit from these vitamins was created by the minds of the consumers who used them! (Another mind-body connection!)
Having dealt with several health issues over the years, I know my body. However, I am also still learning, as my body’s needs change. My doctor diagnosed hypertension. I researched and experimented, found and eradicated the cause. My doctor diagnosed Type II diabetes. I researched and experimented, found and eradicated the cause. Each time I eliminate the cause of a problem, I make an office visit to my doctor to document my improved condition.
I’ve been fortunate to find much additional knowledge about supplements with the assistance of representatives from local GNC stores. For example: I take their Women’s Ultra Mega Vitamins (with iron). Many years ago they changed their formula. I called the store one day and explained to the company representative that I was feeling less energetic than normal, and could not figure out what was wrong. She suggested I look at the ingredients to see if my new bottle contained Bee Pollen. It did not. That taught me the value of taking extra Bee Pollen. (With all of my allergies, I’m glad that Bee Pollen is NOT one of them!) With the assistance of a GNC representative, I recently compared several of GNC’s probiotic products. She helped me determine which ones would provide me with the best benefits—and saved me half the cost I was prepared to pay!
There is, however, one ESSENTIAL KEY FACTOR to be considered—Your Confidence Level!
At some point in our lives we feel ENOUGH! It could be about anything. Just ENOUGH! It could be about our finances, our spouses, our living conditions, our jobs, and yes, even our health. Once we have this experience in one area of our lives, and confidence in changing present conditions rise, this desire to change the confidence level in other parts of our lives begins to emerge.
But when it comes to health, we go to the doctor’s office with a conditioned mentality of “Fix Me!” You tell the doctor what you are experiencing, and expect information, a course of action, a referral, and/or a prescription. It is only after disappointment(s) that we research, start using our own minds to build confidence in knowing our own bodies. If we don’t learn right away what would work, we soon learn what won’t work! We then return to the doctors with informed questions about what we’ve read about or heard about. That is the beginning of having confidence in our own health. At that point we are working WITH our doctors to achieve better health. As our confidence grows, our doctor-patient relationship changes—usually for the better. (Unfortunately, there are still some doctors out there with the “my way or the highway” mentality!)
Every cell in our bodies is replaced within seven years! Some cells may take only days to be replaced, while other cells take years. What remains the same after being replaced is determined by what is in our minds. It is my hope that one day, with an increase in psychoneuroimmunological research (the study of the mind-body connection), we’ll have a common mental approach to dealing with disease in addition to what we have today!