You are likely familiar with homeopathy and the miracles that often come with taking the “perfectly-indicated” remedy!
Especially with acute illnesses, it can be like: KA-BOOM!—feeling so much better in such a
short period of time.
As amazing as homeopathy is, if it’s not supported by good lifestyle choices, excellent health will always be out of reach. So, I wanted to summarize for you what I call the 5 Pillars of Health:
the foundations that can re-build and maintain health. From this solid base, homeopathic remedies can perform even greater magic!
Diet is a very personal matter, but there are certain guidelines that can help us choose how to eat that add to our health rather than detract from it:
*Eat more plants, less animals. Try to aim for 80-20%, or fully vegan. But as with most things in life, being too rigid often backfires, so make sure there is some flexibility so you can sustain it. The animal products you do eat should be organic, or in the case of fish, wild. Animal products (I mean all foods that come from an animal, not just meat) tend to cause acidity and inflammation in the body – neither of which we want. Eating plants is not only better for you, it’s far better for the planet. And much more humane to often poorly-treated, mass-produced animals, be it fish or cattle or chicken.
*Eat fewer calories. In numerous studies, caloric restriction was a better predictor of longevity than what was eaten. It makes sense that the less digesting we do, the less wear and tear on the body. Digestion is a very labor-intensive process – compare what goes in and what comes out – they look very different! The best way I know to eat less is to do some form of intermittent fasting. Many of you know I recommend 18-6 (18 hours of fasting with non-calorie liquids only, and a 6-hour block of healthy eating each day). It only takes a few days for the body to get into the rhythm of this, and the benefits to energy, health and weight are significant. When the body has 18 hours without digestion, it has plenty of time to do needed repairs.
*Don’t worry so much about “getting enough protein.” This is the single most-often asked question I get! Yes, of course, we need protein for growth and repair, but as adults we are no longer growing, so we don’t need as much protein as when we were younger. Adults need protein mostly for repair, and there are plenty of plant-based proteins around to suffice: nuts, nut butters, organic soy (tofu), beans, lentils—and you’ll be surprised to know, even though grains and veggies are considered carbs, many of them have significant amounts of protein. So, let’s reconsider our protein obsession! Eating a well-balanced diet with grains, beans, legumes, fruits and veggies should give you everything you need. Organic is best!
*Increase fiber. Fruits and veggies are not only densely packed with nutrition, they are a main source or fiber, which is beneficial for our microbiome. Much has been said about the microbiome of late and it is often referred to as the second brain. A healthy microbiome can have positive effects on brain function, mood, metabolism and immune function, not to mention digestion and absorption. So, add much more fiber to your diet to improve gut health, along with fermented foods.
*Moderate alcohol and sugar. This helps control weight and stabilize your body’s ability to manage sugar, which can prevent diabetes. What more need be said?
Have as a goal to exercise at least 4x a week—whether that’s a walk in nature, yoga, cardio, weights, Pilates, swimming, dancing, High-intensity interval training—mix it up and commit! The benefits to your heart, muscles, mood, weight, health, sense of well-being, longevity are numerous and documented.
what you can
do, and do it. Start slow. Write it in your agenda. It’s a date with yourself.
Numerous studies show that poor sleep affects health and longevity—good, restful sleep is worth so much more than just not feeling tired! There seems to be two types of us—those who can’t sleep and those who won’t sleep! Those who won’t sleep just need the discipline to get into bed earlier, or not fall asleep on the couch (which affects the quality of the rest of their night after transferring into bed some hours later!). Those who can’t sleep (whether trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep—both are awful) seem to be in good company—it’s practically an epidemic among women over 50 in my experience.
FUN FACTS about sleep:
*caffeine suppresses melatonin production; have your last caffeinated beverage no later than 2pm, or consider cutting it entirely.
*alcohol reduces REM sleep and causes lighter, interrupted sleep.
* exercise increases the amount of deep sleep at night.
* blue light from screens turns off melatonin—stop screens 90 minutes before bed.
*sleep in a cool or cold room to help drop your core temperature, or take a cool shower 30 mins before bed.
*cocoon yourself using a sleep mask for darkness and ear plugs to block sound, and a weighted blanket if that sounds appealing.
all beverages after dinner, to decrease the need to pee at night.
*avoid strenuous exercise within 4 hours of going to bed.
*consider meditation or rhythmic breathing to calm the mind before sleep; make notes of things you need to do the next day before getting into bed, so you can free your mind for sleep.
Pillar #4—Stress Management
It’s not what happens to us, it’s how we react to it. Most of us know this, and yet….. how to remember that we can learn how to manage our reactions to life and to stress. We can’t avoid stress, it always seems to find us, but we can determine that being centered and having peace of mind are our goals and we do what we can to return there each and every day. This is a life’s work, in my opinion, but progress can be made. There are numerous “thinking traps” that we often fall into; I spend a chapter on each of them in my book, Emotional Repatterning: Healing Emotional Pain by Re-wiring the Brain, and it’s good to become familiar with them to understand better what tends to ensnare us. Whether we commit to meditation, tapping, emotional repatterning (changing subconscious limiting beliefs), therapy, or a regular gratitude practice to re-focus on what we have—as opposed to what’s missing.. Any and all of these are helpful, and essential. The less stress we are under, the healthier our immune systems are and the more gracefully we age. And the degree of stress can be determined by us, not the stressor, as we are not victims but authors of our own reactions!
Connection is so very important for well-being. I break this down into three parts: connection to ourselves, connection to others, and spiritual connection. For me, each is essential. Connection to myself is about being honest with myself about how I’m feeling and why. It’s a self-exploration that can bring about greater understanding and then an ability to take action. If I don’t know exactly what it is I’m upset about, if I’m disconnected with myself and have little self-awareness, it’s hard to take steps to improve things. We are often so reluctant to look within and inquire—it seems like a scary and dark place sometimes that we would rather not know too much about! Courage!
Connection to others is also essential, and I think many of us have discovered this over the last 2 years. Being disconnected from like-minded community, feeling isolated and lonely, is for sure not conducive to good health. Studies have shown that those with close relationships live longer. How can we find others we can trust with our truest, most authentic selves? This is possibly the greatest gift of all: to be seen and understood as we are, and to return that same gift to another. Again, it takes courage to be vulnerable and develop deep and meaningful relationships/friendships. Make it a value to talk about more than “the weather” and look for deeper connection in your relationships. Take a risk. We don’t need dozens of close people, just a small handful. Even one.
Spiritual connection is obviously very personal: finding meaning in the mystery of life, and in the mystery of our own lives. Connection to the Divine, connection to nature, hope and prayer all play an integral role in linking us to the magic of the Unknown. Acknowledging that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves can certainly help us put things into perspective so that we feel more grounded, more grateful and optimistic each day!
Incorporating the 5 Pillars of Health into your everyday life, as much as possible, will make a noticeable difference in your health and well-being. And, it will provide a better base from which to respond to homeopathic remedies!
Dr. Lisa Samet N.D. is an exceptional homeopath who provides Washington Homeopathic Products with a regular column on using homeopathy for the family. She's a naturopathic physician who specializes in homeopathic medicine and she's a partner with Dr. Andre Saine N.D. Dr. Samet graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1998 and has been practicing in Montreal since then. She was born and raised in New York.
Dr. Samet has chosen to focus on homeopathy because in her experience it is the deepest healing modality available in that it does not just soothe or palliate symptoms but can actually stimulate the body to start to heal itself. Dr. Samet sees patients in her Montreal office as well as long distance using Skype. Learn more here: Dr. Lisa Samet.You can follow her on Facebook as well.
Photo credit: Xavier Mouton