When you picture optimal health, you might have one of those Gatorade commercials in mind.
You know, the one with the gleaming-with-perspiration, muscular athletes guzzling those red or blue electrolytes after shooting hoops or scoring goals. But that’s not a true picture of health.
Health and particularly health care is not always that obvious and one-dimensionally physical. Sometimes it’s more subtle and global.
Holistic health care means not only your conventional medicine of pills and procedures. Pharmaceutical treatments often mask health issues while giving the appearance of health. Rather, holistic health seeks underlying causes of illness, not bandaids.
Holistic health care focuses on the whole person–the physical, emotional, and nutritional needs of each person. WebMD defines it as treating “the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. That typically means a combination of traditional and…complementary medicine.” So, for a cancer patient, that might mean chemotherapy and acupuncture.
And though traditional medical practitioners are leery of alternative health practices like acupuncture as treatment solutions in the absence of conventional medicine, more doctors are looking toward a collaborative approach with holistic health teams.
Holistic Health Care Teams
Just as individuals are an interrelated network of mind, body, and spirit, so holistic health care providers understand that each individual is a complexity of unique needs and behaviors. Holistic practitioners and holistic doctors work with a team of health care providers, such as mental health counselors, homeopaths, dentists, medical doctors, chiropractors, and dietitians. Their approach to a multi-faceted patient is complementary, sometimes alternative and natural.
In this team concept or holistic approach, the patient and practitioner decide on a health plan, whether that plan is a conventional medication regimen, say, for serious conditions, like cancer, supplemented with other wellness and pain relief practices, such as nutritional counseling, acupressure, massage, vitamin supplementation, oxygen therapies, and herbs, or the traditional standbys like chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.
The Whole Picture: Wellness in Balance
Other than serious illness, however, holistic health care depends upon wellness and prevention, the focus on achieving life balance within the self and with others and the planet. To achieve balance, the approach is on promoting health through mindful eating and self-awareness, avoiding environmental and social toxins to live well, by making lifestyle changes that enhance strength and happiness. It’s about lifestyle choices, exercise, and eating right. It’s about energy and positivism about taking care of yourself through connection of mind, body, and spirit.
Here are the basics:
This means not only the daily recommended servings and proportions of fruits and veggies, proteins, grains, and dairy. Many holistic health practitioners advocate getting rid of processed food high in sugar and artificial additives with dyes. Foods containing these are known to negatively affect health, supplying your body with little nutrition value and harmful chemicals known to cause allergic reactions or cancer. Also avoiding pesticide-laden foods that potentially lead to cancer or other health complications is part of eating for health.
It means getting away from the electronics, games and office chair to get moving. You can’t circulate your blood, burn calories, clear your head, refresh your eyes, or relieve stress if you don’t get up and get out–move. If you don’t, your risk for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases increases. Even 7 minutes a day of energetic movement is better than no movement at all.
Stay True to Yourself
Your body responds to bad thoughts, dishonesty, and repression just like processed foods and other unhealthy intake–with disease and depression. Your health is also your life circumstances. Poor health results from not just blood and cell function. It happens from divorce, poverty, unemployment, overworking, and other hard life circumstances or imbalances that cause stress. Some conditions can’t be solved immediately, but you can call on healthy coping strategies. Take care of yourself. Meditate. Take time off. Seek help.
Ultimately, it takes willpower and discipline to make your life work rather than a pill to patch up your life.
So, the term “health” is not so rigid as to mean an absence of illness or so physical- focused as to mean athleticism. It’s about working toward that healthy balance of personal and public. It’s about self-care through education, and sometimes, it’s recovering through the help of a team of professionals.