THE GREAT physician Hippocrates once declared, 'Your health is your greatest wealth'. If that is true, a great new year resolution for us is to commit to a healthier 2013. Real health is not a negative condition, not just an absence of illness, but rather, is something positive. In its classic definition of health, the World Health Organization states: Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
My own belief is that the human body was designed to be healthy. The biblical statement that we are fearfully and wonderfully made is not just a nice sounding phrase, it really is true. Our bodies have an incredible capacity to heal and repair. Illness and disease in the main reflects our failure to take proper care of minds and bodies.
As a doctor, I have come to realise that I do not actually heal anyone. Healing is something that happens from within the person. Your body is the healer and the physician's role is to provide the support and assistance needed to facilitate the healing process. Until we fully accept this concept, we as a society will continue to face the dilemma of 'more medicines, less health'.
The four pillars of wellness
From my experience, there are four fundamental principles that support real health. I call them the 'Four Pillars of Wellness'.
This is a most critical pillar, because you literally are what you eat. Your body is composed of trillions of cells, much like the concrete blocks in a building. The body constantly repairs and renews itself as, each day, millions of old damaged cells die and new ones are created to replace them. Your body is a work in progress, a machine able to regenerate itself.
The quality and vitality of the new cells your body creates depend on the quality of the food you eat. You literally are what you eat, and garbage in will produce garbage out. Medical experts believe that as much as two thirds of today's health problems are related to our unhealthy diet.
I myself use and recommended to my patients and friends a concept and programme called Cellular Nutrition. The idea is simple: give the cells of the body all the nutrients that they need, and they know how to heal, mend and repair.
There is wisdom in the old saying 'use it or lose it'. The human body can be compared to a high performance motorcar. It needs high-quality fuel in the gas tank. That's the nutritional part. But if you never drove your car and left it always parked, the engine would eventually seize up and the body rust away.
Similarly, many people are in fact suffering from 'seize up' and 'rust down' because of inactivity. Muscles get weak, joints stiffen, heart and lungs lose their efficiency and tension and stress overwhelm the mind. The research shows that as little as 30 minutes of exercise, three to four times per week can have amazing benefits to your physical and mental health.
Not only do we live in a polluted world with chemicals and impurities in the food we eat, the water we use and the air we breathe, but our body's metabolism produces toxic wastes just as the car's engine produces exhaust fumes. Sadly, our body's natural pathways for eliminating these poisons are often overworked or function poorly. We all carry a toxic burden.
The body normally detoxifies itself via the bowels, the liver, the kidneys, the skin and the breath. Several simple natural techniques are available to assist the body to get rid of accumulated impurities. I recommend a gentle cleansing/detoxification programme that combines an aloe vera extract along with fibre and probiotic tablets.
Stress is a poorly understood concept. It is not a thing or person or circumstance. Those 'things' are called stressors. Stress is a reaction: your internal reaction to the stressor. Understanding this is critical, because, even if we cannot avoid our stressors, we can always learn to change the way we react to them.
In essence, stress management is self-management though many so-called stress management programmes focus on stressor management. Real stress management is a personal skill that can be taught and learnt, just like how we can learn to swim or ride a bicycle. An important part of your new-year wellness plan is developing your stress-management skills. Yoga, meditation and self-help relaxation programmes are very helpful.
For this new year, I encourage my readers to adopt these four simple-but-powerful processes as the basis of their wellness programme for 2013. I wish all our readers a Healthy and Happy New Year.
You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at firstname.lastname@example.org or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His new book 'An Ounce of Prevention, Especially for Women' is available locally and on the Internet.