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HEALTH CONCERN? BioHealth Health Concerns

The Power to Achieve Health is in Your Own Hands!

Contributing Author: Riendeau, Claire N.M.D.

Claire RiendeauDr. Claire Riendeau is a naturopathic doctor specializing in nutrition and functional medicine, with many complex cases involving long-term chronic infections and environmental toxicity. Claire has earned two doctorate degrees, Doctor of Naturopathy and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, is certified in Metabolic Nutrition and holds a Diploma of Homeopathic Medicine. She is a member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association and the International Foundation for Nutrition and Health. She is a widely sought out lecturer and provider for environmental illnesses such as Lyme disease.

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Many people mistakenly believe they can live with poor lifestyle choices because there will be a magical “cure” for the ailments that occur because of these choices. Unfortunately, there is no cure for a lifetime of poor choices. In most cases, poor lifestyle behaviors are the underlying causes of illness and disease.  Poor diet, little sleep, lack of exercise and stress from work, school and home contribute to illness and disease more than any other single factor. Fortunately, you have the power to control your own health.  Changing your lifestyle behaviors can prevent illness and disease in the years to come.

Eating the Right Foods

It is difficult for even the most well educated person to make sense of the different opinions presented by doctors, nutritionists, fitness experts, magazine articles, etc. on eating the right foods. Each week, the media reports the benefits of certain foods, and the harmful effects of others. However, a couple facts apply to everyone: 1) proper blood sugar control is necessary for the maintenance of appropriate body fat levels, good cognitive function and a healthy immune system, and 2) you must determine what foods are harmful and which ones are well-tolerated and that promote health for your unique body chemistry.

Maintaining a steady blood sugar level involves eating at regular intervals and consuming the right amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fat with each meal and snack. When blood sugar is low, you enter a catabolic state. Muscles, organ and bone tissue break down to keep the body going. At the same time, your immune system may become compromised.

Eating smart involves paying attention to the glycemic index and pH value of foods, choosing proteins, carbohydrates and fats wisely and eating organic foods. Some basic rules include eating 80% alkaline and 20% acid forming foods, eating 80% raw and 20% cooked foods and eating until you are 80% full to allow room for digestion.

Problematic foods for many people include gliadin and gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats, rice, corn, etc.), as well as dairy and soy.  Saliva tests are available to determine if these foods are incompatible with your body chemistry. This “intolerance” (not “allergy”) can be the difference between good health and disease, including cancers. A great reference on this topic is “Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous to Your Health,” by James Braly M.D.

Get Enough Sleep

Your immune system functions optimally with adequate sleep.  While you sleep, physical repair takes place between 10 pm and 2 am. Your immune system patrols your body, eliminating cancer cells, bacteria, viruses and other harmful agents.  You enter a stage of psychic regeneration from 2 am to 6 am, during which time the brain releases chemicals that enhance your immune system. Mental and emotional events are processed, refreshing your mind for the day ahead. Seven to eight hours of sleep are required to accomplish these tasks. Without sufficient sleep, your immune system will have difficulty keeping up with its repair work.

Exercise Regularly

Recent research shows that lack of exercise shortens a person’s life expectancy more than regular smoking, putting in perspective the need for sufficient exercise. As the saying goes, “Use it, or lose it.”

Emotional and Mental Stress

Both emotional and mental stress stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, creating a fight-or-flight response. Chronic overstimulation can lead to suppressed immunity and adrenal exhaustion, common for many of us today who lead busy and hectic lives.  Oftentimes, there is no escape from all of the sources of stress in our lives; however, we can control our response to them. Deep breathing exercises switch our responses from sympathetic to parasympathetic. “Conscious Breathing” by Gay Hendricks, PhD covers this in great detail.  Yoga also does wonders for mind, body and spirit.

Maintaining good health does not have to be tedious. It does not mean eating boring meals or spending endless hours in an unpleasant gym. Good health is exciting and it can be achieved by each of us, one simple step at a time.