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The path to being healthier starts with a stronger foundation. Often when issues arise with our health we treat the symptoms and don’t really address the reason why the symptoms exist. When we discontinue the treatment, the symptoms often come back worse than they were before or develop into a more serious health problem.
When I start working with a new patient, I always start them out with some sort of detoxification program. The reason for this is because we are all exposed to a considerable amount of toxins in our daily life. It’s unavoidable. While our body does have the ability to detoxify itself, it wasn’t designed to handle the flood of stuff that we are often exposed to in our day-to-day life. Toxins in our body cause damage to our tissues and impair basic pathways that are essential to our health. This serves as an obstacle for people trying to feel better.
Digestion and proper nutrition impact how we absorb and utilize the building blocks (vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates) of our health. Eating a healthy diet is a great start, but it’s difficult to get everything our body needs in our diet on a daily basis. This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, due to impaired digestive function (dysbiosis, leaky gut, IBS, hypochlorhydia), our bodies don’t always breakdown and absorb our nutrients effectively. Secondly, our food is lacking in some essential nutrients that are fundamental to our health. Supplementing with a few basics (multivitamin and mineral, omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D) can really make an enormous difference in your overall health.
Exercise and movement are essential for health. As the basic law of inertia states an object in a state of rest will remain in a state of rest. This means that the less you do, the more sluggish and less efficient your system becomes. Movement helps to keep better flow throughout your system and provides benefits to your body that go far beyond the obvious physical improvements. It balances our endorphins, helps our body to cope better with stress and improves the function of all the systems of the body.
Our immune system is integral to how our body copes with exposure to outside influences, such as bacteria or viral infections. It also plays a key role in inflammation and allergies. If you are getting sick often or have allergies and inflammation, these are signs of immune system dysfunction. There are lots of ways to improve your immune function with herbs such as echinacea, ginseng, turmeric, astragalus, and medicinal mushrooms like reishi. Taking these if you feel run down or just to give your immune system a boost as we go into peak cold and flu season can be powerful for your health.
Sleeping well is crucial to your overall health. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep consistently to be able to function optimally. Not sleeping well or enough, will wear you down and make you susceptible to all kinds of health issues. Also, if you are already experiencing health problems, not sleeping will slow down your road to recovery significantly.
Everyone experiences stress at times, it’s just a fact of life. If stress isn’t managed properly it can contribute to all kinds of dysfunction in our health. Supporting the body during times of stress is imperative to getting through the rough patches in our lives. There are many ways to help your body during stressful times including specific nutrients like B vitamins and herbs such as ashwagandha and ginseng. Lifestyle changes to decrease stress including deep breathing and shifting your perspective can all help you to cope better with stress.
Rebuilding a stronger foundation for your health will allow your body to realign and rebalance more efficiently and effectively. Ultimately this makes the path to better health much faster and easier. Getting a plan in place that starts with these fundamentals will ensure that you are on track to better health now, and for years to come.
Health and happiness!
Dr. Cheryl Cooper
Dr. Cheryl Cooper is a Naturopathic Doctor and the owner and CEO of Vitallife Integrative Medicine based in Ottawa. She has 20 years of experience in the health and wellness industry, specializing in hormone balancing, women’s health, detoxification, stress management and sleep issues. Dr. Cooper uses a holistic approach to helping patients, involving educating and empowering patients to take control of their health. Recently moved to her hometown of Canmore, Alberta, she now practices out of Inner Balance Spa in Calgary.