I am always amazed at how we in the U.S. have normalized wanting everything fast, including healing. Getting a ‘quick fix’ has become central to our value system, as an expectation and an entitlement. The result of this form of thinking has caused us to lose our connection to the sacred rhythms of life.
From Atkins to Paleo to Keto, quick fix diets abound. Many do not want to hear about the long-term negative consequences of such diets as they are interested only in quick weight loss with no concern for the temporary nature of it or long-term negative effects on our body.
But fast results are unnatural for the body. The body is a response mechanism composed of many different systems in constant and dynamic communication with each other which are always changing and impacted by every choice we make. In addition, our body has innate intelligence. It knows how to breathe, sleep, wake and heal, all on its own. If we cut ourselves, it heals through these autoregulated mechanisms and ‘voila, we have a scab’. But for it to work efficiently to autoregulate, it needs the right fuel, a state of balance and time to rest and regenerate. Even our heart oxygenates itself during its relaxation phase after contraction, about 70 times per minute. This is one example of how Nature has built-in mechanisms for self-care, renewal, and regeneration. The body’s very survival depends on it.
We seldom think of our body in this way. Our society and medical system see the body very differently. In my medical training, I was taught that the body is a container of physiological mechanisms that randomly break down, requiring symptom management in the form of pharmaceuticals or surgery, and our lifestyle has a small impact if any, on the manifestation and reversal of disease. I was taught that what you eat really doesn’t matter, and food has nothing to do with health. In fact, I had only a one-hour class of nutrition education that emphasized the need for meat and dairy for health.
We now know that this is a flawed perception which is also unscientific, based on thirty years of repeated scientific research.
Unfortunately, our society believes and normalizes this flawed perception. The current traditional medical system teaches us that the rhythms of the body are meaningless, that menstruation is a curse and inconvenience, and that diseases can only be fixed through attacking the body. The profit margin of the corporate medical system relies heavily on perpetuating these beliefs. In the field of Women’s Health, methods of suppressing menstruation are considered standard-of-care treatments to deal with menstrual discomfort. Stopping menstrual cycles via uterine ablations, and hysterectomies are on the rise and have been normalized to treat symptoms; yet investigating the cause for heavy bleeding and the loss of menstrual rhythm is overlooked. These treatments are big business. Consequently, we fail to uncover the association of our symptoms with our psychological and emotional processes, what we eat and drink and how consciously we live. The body is impacted by all of our choices as they are the very building blocks of our cell structure.
I would go as far as to call our current perceptions and behaviors adversarial to our relationship with our body. As we can see, our remedies for the majority of our symptoms are merely band-aids which do not heal the underlying causes of these conditions.
Our medical model, in addition to being expensive and invasive, lacks consciousness. It does not help us repair or align our relationship with ourselves. On the contrary, it causes further harm. When we abdicate our power to physicians and holistic healers, we render ourselves powerless. We are led to believe that when a symptom arises, it occurs suddenly and unexpectedly and is not related to any of our choices preceding its manifestation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our body responds to every choice we make. When we are imprinted (during childhood) to ignore its messages, we lose our ability to make conscious choices to assist it.
Everything we eat, drink, think, how we handle stress or whether we have a supportive community, affects our body’s responses. We do not consider that our bodies are actually designed the same way as all organisms in Nature. Its rhythms and responses are aligned like all other organisms in Nature. The difference between us and them is our lack of consciousness which disconnects us from our true Nature.
When we make what may seem like insignificant choices that interrupt our body’s natural rhythms, we affect its autoregulatory and repair capacity. When a sailboat is steered a few degrees off course without incremental course corrections, it ends up at the wrong destination. In the same way, even small and seemingly insignificant choices that take our body off its course of health will manifest symptoms (and diseases) over time.
Every course correction we make matters. Scientific evidence has shown this to be true. One example in my medical practice of the power of incremental changes was of a patient with obesity, joint pain and chronic fatigue. Unable to make comprehensive lifestyle changes, he made only one change. He stopped drinking diet soda alone and lost 20 lbs of weight in a year! His liver, no longer highjacked by the poisonous effects of chemicals in the soda, was able to reboot and activate his body’s metabolic efficiency. The results he experienced restored his confidence to make further changes in his lifestyle that healed his other symptoms completely. One incremental course correction triggered a cascade of physical and psychological healing. Another patient, a 58-year-old menopausal woman, struggling with a plethora of symptoms including depression, simply eliminated processed sugar. Her joint pain, sleep disturbance, brain fog, and rash vanished within 2 months. She had more energy and joy than ever before. She was so amazed at her body’s ability to heal that she discovered a newfound commitment to supporting it. Our choices may appear to be small, but they have a profound impact on our health. They require consciousness, willingness and an endurance to stay the course.
In addition, plenty of scientific evidence (1) has shown time and again how our choices impact health and disease. For example, when a person on a diet heavy in animal protein, such as the Paleo or Keto diet, switches to a Whole Food Plant Based diet, the body’s repair mechanisms are immediately activated. Animal protein has been shown to interfere with the body’s ability to repair carcinogenic damage, hence increasing cancer risk. Adding more plants and reducing meat even incrementally stimulates a cascade of changes that facilitate the body’s ability to heal and activate cancer reversal (2).
We can see how many of our unhealthy lifestyle habits (3) that society normalizes do not serve us in positive ways. We must begin to repair our adversarial relationship with our body and consider the impact of our choices on our health. Our body’s responses are directly related to how we treat it. Making incremental conscious choices to restore physical, psychological and spiritual health has profound effects over time. In addition, they restore our relationship with ourselves and place our power to heal, back into our own hands.
My suggestions for restoring health are very simple and evidence-based:
- Eat a Whole Food Plant Based diet (4)
- Exercise daily for at least 20 minutes (5)
- Minimize (eliminate) alcohol (6)
- Take the time to be in Nature (7)
- Get a good night’s sleep (8)
- Attend to your inner life to align yourself with meaning (9)
As you live from a few or all of these principles you will be amazed at how quickly your body can heal itself and your relationship to it. Incremental changes made with consciousness matter. Once you try them, you will never again doubt your body’s ability to heal.
©Oct2018 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director of The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: www.ommanicenter.com Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press