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The Health Pyramid: It’s just common sense!

We naturopathic doctors are trained to think about health according to a

“therapeutic order”, a pyramid of approaches that prioritizes a healthy

foundation, and then looks to the gentlest and most supportive interventions first, before resorting to drugs or surgery.

But so often, the medical approach bypasses this common sense, and only acts when a problem becomes big enough to warrant a prescription. Warning signs and symptoms are often ignored, when there are so many steps that could (and should) be taken before a health problem becomes a crisis.

There are so many things you can do to improve your health before resorting to meds. The most fundamental and powerful tools you have to build health are your day-to-day habits, and these are very much within your control.

So what is foundational in our view? It’s simple:

• Good, nutritious food

• Deep restorative sleep

• Daily movement and exercise

• Stress relief and time for leisure

These choices we make and habits we cultivate really are “the best medicine”, and creating a strong foundation will help all other treatments be more effective. It doesn’t make sense to wait until your need a cholesterol medication, or until you receive a diagnosis of diabetes, or fatty liver, to start working on your healthy foundation.

Let’s take a closer look at these fundamentals of health.

DIET: Food really is the medicine we take three times a day! When we think of it this way, as our daily opportunity to build a healthier body, it is clear this is of greatest importance. We need the macronutrients proteins, fats and carbohydrates to fuel our cells, and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals to help our biochemistry run smoothly. Nature intended us to get these building blocks through whole foods.

MOVEMENT: Our bodies are designed to move, every day. It is only in the last century that it is no longer necessary to walk, dig, carry and move throughout our days.

Movement strengthens muscles and bones, and improves the circulation of blood and lymph, bringing oxygen to our tissues and moving cellular wastes out.

Exercise promotes sweating, a natural detox mechanism, and it can be a great stress outlet.

SLEEP is critical for mind, body and spirit. In sleep, we consolidate the experiences of our day, promoting clarity of thought and learning. This is why we say. “Let’s sleep on it!”

The brain also has its own cleansing mechanism called the glymphatic system, which is only activated during deep sleep cycles. Click here to read "Getting a good night's sleep"

STRESS RELIEF: It is important to spend time in our happy place! Many of us learned in adulthood to focus on work and all our adult responsibilities, leaving our earlier passions behind, because there was never enough time.

What do you love? What brings you joy? Explore your creativity, listen to or play music, get out in nature, laugh with friends. Leisure is not just frivolous: it is necessary for stress relief and makes life worthwhile!

This is the common-sense framework we SHINE doctors use when we think about health.

Does it make sense to you? If so, join likeminded folk in the SHINE health project. It’s your source for reliable information, with ah-ha moments, practical tips, delicious recipes and more, to inspire and support you in strengthening your healthy foundation.

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