Updated: Jan 27, 2020
Health is wealth. If you know me that is the saying i have lived by for as long as I can remember. If we have good health and are happy in this life, nothing else really has ultimate value. Through my studies and my personal journey into health knowledge I have always gravitated towards an Eastern health perspective with a holistic outlook on the body and its needs. By holistic we mean, WHOLEistic, this whole body. This incorporates the mind, physical body, spiritual health, and all outside influences from diet to our environment on how the body succeeds as a system. The eastern part of the world for the most part has always adopted this with its various cultural paths of lifestyle for health. The western region of the world began adopting what we call modern medicine only within the past one hundred years. Modern western medicine has achieved greatness with new advances on health and disease process through science and developments in chemistry. Modern medicine has been incredible too and has achieved a lot with the health of many. Modern medicine created amazing vaccines to eradicate horrible diseases and excelled on surgical transformations that allow people and animals to heal after severe accidents.
What is interesting though is how quickly we have dismissed the eastern way through basic lifestyle like diet, movement, and spiritual practices that have a tremendous impact on our overall health. The traditional eastern way of life sees the potential the body and mind have on the entire body systems and allows it to essentially do all the work itself. What is truly exciting about the body is its innate ability to truly HEAL itself, all on its own. When we get a cut on our hand what do we do? We apply a band aide and watch it very quickly begin to heal itself. This can happen so fast we do not even realize the amazing process that is happening below the skin surface! Cells and an entire network of an antibody immune system are hard at work to achieve what they were made for...to heal!
Sometimes, with the need and ability to convenience whether it’s a small cough or sniffle, we tend to look quickly to the more western outlook on medicine that includes prescriptions or over the counter drugs that aid in that process. But the exciting news is that our bodies do not actually need this! They can do it all on their own, and they are happy to do it too! Sometimes what we really need is to slow down, look to the body and its innate intuition and ability to work hard and fast and with compassion. What if we created compassion out of fear and looked at our bodies as a working system that has so much potential and power to live greatly and with health? What if we viewed being ‘sick’ as a message from the body that its time to slow down and rest, rather than be fearful of the symptoms and suppress them?
Type II Diabetes is a great example of how powerful the body can be. Modern medicine usually will prescribe medication to a patient with this condition, but the body can repair this insulin resistance all on its own-with proper lifestyle changes. Genetics is usually mentioned with conditions like this and scapegoated as a cause. Although genetics can play a role in conditions like Type II Diabetes, genes have a more influencing factor on the results of lifestyle in that specific condition. If someone is genetically predisposed to an insulin resistance and combines that with poor lifestyle choices like lack of exercise and overeating, they are much more likely to develop the condition. When it comes to insurance and health coverage, we put a tremendous amount of money in modern medicine that ultimately continues to keep us sick. We tend to band aide the problem rather than get to tackling the root cause. At almost no cost and with minimally invasive modalities like eastern medicine we can make simple changes to our health. Interestingly, eastern modalities are viewed as "alternative" and are not usually covered by most insurances. I find it harsh that natural, simple health is viewed as the alternative option when it’s been around for thousands of years and works beautifully. Taking a shift in the way we see our bodies and their powerful ability to heal can have a tremendous impact on everyone.
There has been a good amount of new research around this "radical" idea that we choose more of a plant-based diet, practice more meditation, contribute to reducing our stressors, and practice more movement and exercise. But the fact is that those beliefs have successfully been understood by millions of people for thousands of years and worked! I find it more radical to think that we have pushed those ideas aside. That we adopt medicine that doesn't look at this whole body as a working system that needs the simplest things: good-whole food, a positive attitude, and a little bit of movement to thrive. Western medicine shifted into trying to achieve health with one component at a time. If there is an issue with blood pressure or perhaps heart health, we are quick to assign a medicine to reduce those numbers. But what the body truly craves is to reduce your stress and eat a more balanced diet and to move. Modern medicine often forgets to look at the root cause of the problem being the whole body and rather fixates on one thing at a time. Our bodies deserve a more compassionate and natural way. Because the fact is, we are nature, and nature has and will continue to thrive successfully on its own. When we turn to nature and the natural ability of our body, we can live a much happier and healthier life.
Many of my favorite references come from Michael Pollen, a famous foodie and lifestyle expert. He has a great collection of books that talk about diet and health and he has tremendous research around the history around the diet culture in America. He also has the documentary about his book “In defense of Food” that was a great health and food reference. Netflix also has documentaries about medicine and two I enjoyed that talk about alternative medicine called “Heal” and “What the Health”. I recommend watching them!
Ali O. (2013). Genetics of type 2 diabetes. World journal of diabetes, 4(4), 114–123. doi:10.4239/wjd.v4.i4.114
Written By Alex Taylor
Yoga 2 Barre Teacher