Prevention is better than cure
For some of us, it is only as we age that we come to realise the importance of prevention, as the evidences of our wayward youth begin to catch up with us and we resign ourselves to a regime of regular medication intake to manage some chronic condition. Consider that the predisposing risk factors for common conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes include being overweight, lack of exercise, poor diet, stress, high alcohol consumption, smoking, among others, many of which are lifestyle choices that are preventable.
In the early practice of traditional Chinese medicine, persons sought out their doctor in order to maintain wellness and prevent disease. Herbal preparations and acupuncture were given to prevent rather than to treat after the fact, and so a doctor might find his/her reputation in jeopardy if too many long-standing patients became ill. With growing awareness and education, more persons are willing to evaluate their lifestyle and diet in order to prevent, where possible, the onset of chronic illness.
Consider these general health guidelines to wellness maintenance:
GRAINS: Adequate consumption of whole grains such as oats, brown rice, corn, rye, and millet. Grain sprouts, unrefined whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals.
FRUITS & VEGETABLES: Root; starchy, leafy vegetables; all fruits; seaweed-algae; micro-algae.
PROTEINS: Beef up on legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, bean sprouts, and soy products. Meats should be consumed sparingly.
FATS & OILS: Use unrefined oils such as cold-pressed olive oil and sesame oil.
Also, avoid highly processed, excessively sweet and salty foods as much as possible.
ACTIVITY: 30-60 minutes of daily exercise, as workout/sport. Choose an activity that you enjoy.
AWARENESS: Daily practices that calm and nurture the spirit, such as prayer, meditation, quiet contemplation, mantras, and various relaxed and mindful processes that promote self-reflection and quiet.
Some Other Helpful Hints
Many of us struggle to get in enough fruits and veggies. Try daily juicing - it's quick and easy.
Feeling stressed? Try going for a walk or just getting some rest. Take the time to enjoy your life.
Your emotional and physical environments are other key factors. Avoid excessive pollution and relationships that are more a burden than a joy.
CONSTIPATION: Try blended Aloe Vera at bed time.
SINUSES: Try a steam inhalation with eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme or peppermint oil. Avoid dairy and soy products and increase the use of raw garlic, onions and ginger.
INSOMNIA & ANXIETY: Sipping Chamomile or Rose Hips tea. Avoid cigarettes, alcohol and coffee.
ARTHRITIS: Wheat grass, turmeric and alfalfa supplementation are great allies in the battle with arthritis. Avoid dairy, tomatoes, bell peppers, excessive amounts of meat and foods high in oxalic acid.
HYPERTENSION & CHOLESTEROL: Whole foods rich in lecithin, vitamin C, vitamin E, niacin, and omega-3 oils are excellent choices. Oats is especially good for cholesterol control.
DIGESTION: Sipping warm water throughout the day helps to improve digestion. Green tea also helps to boost metabolism and aid in weight loss.
Some changes are easier said than done, but as we look for ways to wellness, remember to start with small steps.
Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an Oriental medicine practitioner of acupuncture and herbal medicine, adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology in Oriental/Chinese medicine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com.