The Five Fundamentals of Health, according to natural health philosophy, are the five areas of lifestyle that we must attend to in order to maximize health and prevent disease. We will now take a brief look at each of these five areas.
The Five Fundamentals of Health
In our fastidious society, everyone understands the importance of keeping the outside of the body clean. This is because we can see the outside. But it is just as important, if not more so, to keep the inside clean.
I am reminded of a television commercial promoting a toothpaste that is purported to clean tar stains off the teeth of smokers. But what about the tar you can’t see—the tar in the lungs?
Hygiene, both inside and out, is important to health. But the importance of hygiene applies to more than just the body. Since we depend on our surroundings for the essentials of life—air, food, water, etc.—a clean environment is just as important.
Many of the great plagues that have befallen humankind have been the result of unclean living conditions. The Bubonic Plague, or “Black Death,” which wiped out a large part of Europe during the Middle Ages, was carried by fleas, which were in turn carried by rodents. It was the lack of sanitation, resulting in the accumulation of garbage and proliferation of rats, that ultimately led to the many deaths caused by the “Black Death.”
Many deaths throughout history and even today are the results of diseases such as dysentery and cholera, which are spread by unclean water. Drinking water that has been contaminated by sewage is particularly dangerous.
Modern sewage and water treatment facilities are largely responsible for the increased lifespans we enjoy today and have done more to prevent disease than all the doctors, drugs, and hospitals in the world. But even today most drinking water is not as clean as it should be.
Many disease-causing parasites are spread by drinking water so it is prudent to take extra precautions by using an appropriate water filter.
Intestinal (Colon) Cleansing
Imagine what would happen if your household trash was allowed to accumulate. This would soon attract all sorts of disease-carrying vermin. We could kill the vermin with poison, but it would be much better to clean out the trash that is feeding it.
The same happens in the body when waste is allowed to accumulate because elimination is not keeping up with waste production. In this case the vermin are opportunistic disease-carrying “germs” and parasites. We could poison the vermin with antibiotics and other drugs, but wouldn’t it be better to clean out the waste that is causing the problem?
The average American consumes five pounds of chemical food additives per year. To add insult to injury, modern food processing has removed most of the fiber from our foods, and we do not eat enough foods, such as vegetables, which are a good sources of fiber.
Fiber acts like a broom, helping sweep chemicals and toxins through the intestinal tract. When we don’t get enough fiber in the diet, the movement of the intestines is slowed, promoting the build up of waste material and toxins in the bowel, liver and blood. Everyone can benefit from a periodic colon cleanse to clear out these accumulations.
The term “colon cleansing” is a little misleading, because true cleansing means much more than simply taking a laxative to empty the bowels. A good herbal cleanses will not only improve elimination but will aid all of the organs and tissues that have an eliminative function including, not only the colon or bowel, but the liver, lungs, skin, blood, and kidneys as well. The herbal cleansing product that I recommend for this is CleanStart.
Cleansing opens the body’s channels of elimination so that waste can be properly eliminated before toxins build up to dangerous levels in the tissues and blood. Toxins produce stress and deplete the body’s energy systems. Proper elimination conserves the body’s healing energy making more energy available for healing and repair.
We do not recommend that people who are thin, pale, emaciated or in a weakened condition begin with a cleanse. Such people should begin by building. We also do not recommend cleansing for women who are pregnant or lactating.
For the rest of us, it is a good idea to begin our nutritional programs with a cleanse. We then recommend a cleanse twice a year—once in the Spring and again in the Fall.
So the first fundamental of health is cleansing—cleansing the body (inside and out); and ensuring that our environment, air, and drinking water are also pure.
The second fundamental of health is Leisure. By this I mean rest, relaxation, meditation and sleep. Adequate Rest is necessary for physical and mental rejuvenation. Sleep is essential for our well-being, but it isn’t just the quantity of sleep, it’s the quality that’s so important. There are four phases of sleep.
Once the fourth or deepest phase is attained, the body goes through a sort of sleeping rhythm, alternating between dream sleep and non-dream sleep. Distinct types of emotional and physical healing and building take place during these two distinct types of sleep.
Both are necessary to maintain our health. Researchers have shown that sleep deprivation, and even poor quality sleep, suppresses the immune system and is detrimental to mental and physical well-being.
People who have trouble sleeping often feel the need to resort to sleep-inducing drugs. Although these drugs may put you to sleep, they interfere with the natural rhythm of sleep and never result in quality sleep.
Herbs like hops, valerian and passionflower help induce more natural sleep and are better alternatives for people who have trouble sleeping. (These three herbs are available in a sleep combination appropriately named Herbal Sleep.)
I also consider meditation to be an important part of this fundamental of health. Over 600 medical studies have proven that the regular practice of meditation offers countless psychological and physical benefits including improved health, reduced effects of aging, reduced stress and anxiety, lowered blood pressure and risk of stroke, increased intelligence and creativity, improved memory and learning ability, increased energy and sense of well-being, and improved function of the immune system.
Many meditators have reported that they have found it easier to reduce alcohol use, stop smoking, and let go of unhealthy habits after being on a regular program of meditation. More about meditation, including how to do it, is available on this web site in our Lesson on Meditation.
One of the greatest contributors to our fat society is lack of exercise. We have become a nation of “couch potatoes” who would rather sit in front of a television or computer than enjoy a brisk walk outdoors. It will come as no surprise that exercise is an essential key to weight loss and weight management.
Our bodies burn calories at a faster rate when we exercise, but just as importantly, regular exercise speeds up the body’s metabolism so we continue burning calories at a faster rate even when at rest. Exercise improves regulation and balance of blood sugar levels giving us more energy and helping us feel better.
It also promotes better sleep. All of this helps to improve our mood and energy level, so we tend to be more active, which helps perpetuate our exercise program.
Vigorous exercise for at least 15 to 20 minutes, three times a week, is a fundamental of health and a fundamental of weight loss and lifetime maintenance. Our exercise programs do not necessarily have to include intense activities such as jogging or running. A brisk walk at a comfortable pace is a good exercise for many people.
Since walking is less vigorous than running or jogging, we should ideally try to do it for at least 40 minutes at a time, if health permits. If you have been sedentary for most of your life you might have to start slowly, gradually building up your endurance level.
Other activities such as bicycling are also excellent as long as they are done on a regular basis—preferably every day, but at least three times a week.
Our attitude is related to our internal dialogue—what we tell ourselves, either consciously or subconsciously, about ourselves and the people, circumstances and events around us. A good attitude is a buffer against stress and disease. Numerous research studies have shown that a good attitude promotes a good immune system.
A bad or negative attitude causes the body to release chemicals into the bloodstream that are inappropriate for the situation and detrimental to health. These will suppress the immune system and can lead to illness. Listen to your internal dialogue or “self-talk” and become aware of the thoughts that are not helping you.
Release those thoughts and trust that they will be replaced by others which will be more helpful. Spiritual practices and meditation are excellent ways for many of us to help us improve our attitudes.
Our attitude is also largely affected by past learning and memories of experiences that have had an emotional impact on us. Some of these memories are conscious but most are unconscious, lying just below our conscious thought level but nevertheless having a huge impact on our thoughts, attitudes and emotions.
These memories continue to impact us for years, decades and even a lifetime in many cases. They are hard to reach on a conscious level but easily reached on an emotional level. This is where flower remedies, a type of homoeopathy utilizing the essence of flowers, may be helpful for many people.
Nature’s Sunshine Products has a complete line of flower remedies which can have a positive impact on your emotions and attitudes. To determine the appropriate flower remedy for you, master herbalist Steven Horne has developed an assessment questionnaire that he has on his Tree of Light web site that you can use for free.
Earlier in this lesson, I mentioned the body’s extracellular fluid—the fluid that bathes our cells providing them with a constant supply of nutrients and carrying away their waste products. All of the water and nutrients in this fluid come from the general circulation of blood, which in turn comes from what we take into the body through food and drink.
The quality of this extracellular fluid, and thus the quality of our internal environment, is determined by the choices we make. If a nutrient needed by a cell is not in the diet and is not produced by the body, it will not be available to the cell. The cell will not be able to perform its job properly and our health will suffer.
Is it necessary to supplement?
In order to maintain our maximum health potential throughout a lifetime, I believe that it is necessary to supplement our diets. Due to modern farming methods, overworking of the soil, and the depletion of beneficial bacteria in the soil by pesticide use, the foods we eat today are lacking in sufficient quantities of many trace minerals.
Food processing techniques designed to extend shelf-life destroy many important nutrients—especially vitamins, enzymes and phytonutrients. Furthermore, for many of us a stressful lifestyle and polluted environment increase our need for certain vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Today’s typical diet, although high in calories, is grossly lacking in the nutrients we require for good health. When we don’t get the nutrients we need we tend to overeat, in our body’s futile attempt to get what is lacking. Sometimes the effects of this malnutrition shows up in weight gain, or in difficulty in maintaining our ideal weight.
Sometimes they don’t show up until later in life, when chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and osteoporosis are most likely to occur. For most of us this shows up as a decreased ability to fight off disease and a general lack of energy and vitality. We will cover nutritional supplementation more thoroughly in the remaining lessons of this course.
We have briefly covered the Five Fundamentals of Health, the five areas of lifestyle that we must attend to in order to reach our maximum health potential. To help you remember them, remember the acronym CLEAN:
- Leisure (Rest, Meditation and Sleep)