You may hear the phrase Alternative Health and question just what does Alternative Health mean? You may also discover after some research that it means different things to different people. Alternative Health, simply defined, is an alternative or optional approach to becoming or remaining healthy. It is an optional approach that veers away from the currently accepted practices of medicine and explores other options. It generally means a choice of treatment other than a chemical choice. Therefore, the general goal of alternative health is to use methods of reducing symptoms and restoring health with means that are not of a chemical origin.
You visit your doctor. He is saddened to tell you that you are experiencing blood pressure that is higher than normal or safe. This puts you at risk for a possible medical incident. Therefore he makes the recommendation that you should go on a medication to help lower or regulate your blood pressure. Obediently you go to the pharmacy and purchase the medication. And if the pharmacist properly does their job they read the warning and side indications of the drug. As he reads the list of possible side effects you make a mental note. Because the side effects include the same events that you are hoping to avoid by taking it you become a bit confused. Maybe you are even somewhat a little scared. Is this medication really the answer?
What causes high blood pressure? You do some research. It is all quite vague. You may find causes such as diet, hereditary, imbalances of hormones, or complications of other diseases. But you really do not get a good feel for why you have it. Therefore you also do not get a good idea of how to get rid of it. You still wonder if the medication is the answer.
Inflammation causes high blood pressure and many other diseases that are associated with aging. Therefore the real question is, what causes the inflammation? In Alternative Medicine, we look at the cause or causes and work on fixing those. After all, if we eliminate the cause will we not eliminate the problem?
Furthermore, almost every one of the diseases – we will call them aging diseases- have a root cause of dietary shortcomings. Many diseases have the same root causes. So if dietary shortcomings caused the problem, can dietary changes fix the problem? There is good news! Yes, they can! We have seen dozens of patients change their diagnoses by changing their diet! There are countless peer-review papers written on many of the efficacy of alternative solutions, as well. Also, there are many doctors in the Functional Medicine arena that solely use food and diet to reverse many medical diagnoses.
I am not going into every disease here with every solution. I will state however that if you have an illness, there are foods that we can use, a diet we can create, and a lifestyle we can coach you through that will change your diagnosis and set you on the path to good health. The biggest mistake you will make is thinking, “not my diagnosis, not me. My illness cannot be helped. I need a chemical path to help me cope with my illness.” Note I said “cope”.
Alternative medicine does not just “cope” with or mask your symptoms. Alternative medicines help you eliminate your symptoms by eliminating the causes of your illness.
Therefore let us look at the example of high blood pressure as one disease that we can reverse or regulate by changing some lifestyle habits and diet. One of the biggest and most effective changes you can make in relating blood pressure is by changing what you drink. Eliminate every beverage except water. Yes, that means no soft drinks, no power drinks, no tea – sweet, unsweet, or any other tea, all coffee-based beverages, wine, beer, and any other alcoholic drinks must be eliminated. Once the blood pressure is regulated you may add back a cup of coffee, a glass of unsweet tea, or a glass of wine but never let them replace your water.
Because water is the only liquid that can cleanse the blood, by drinking enough good quality water- spring, purified, or filtered- you will cleanse the sludge out of your blood. The sludge is the cause of inflammation. Therefore it is the cause of high blood pressure. How much water should you drink? There is a whole article on this site on water consumption. Here are the basics: 8 to 12 ounces on rising each day. Throughout the day 3 to 4 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes. If you do an activity that causes perspiration of course you need to add more.
However, if you find the water is not working, it may be because you are not getting the proper salt or type of salt. Be certain you are not using sodium-filled foods. What are sodium-filled foods? Highly processed, particularly canned foods. Use fresh or frozen foods, limit salty snacks, and chips and use a brand of salt called Real Salt, or some other salt with high mineral content. PLEASE, stay away from salts from China. The Real Salt company mines here in the US from an old sea bed. Also, there are some good salts derived from the Andes.
By adding exercise to your daily regimen you can further help regulate your blood pressure. Walking, yoga, stretching exercises, biking, swimming, water games, and rowing are all good choices. The more outdoor, in the sun activities the better as the natural vitamin D is very helpful. Furthermore, physical activity reduces stress. Stress causes high blood pressure. Therefore, stress relief helps lower your numbers, too. The benefits of exercise are twofold.
A great side effect of drinking water and exercise is often weight loss. Most of us find that losing a few pounds benefits us in multiple ways. You can further help reduce your blood pressure by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Eat a rainbow of colors in foods each day. Be certain you are getting lots of greens, yellow, orange, red, purple, and blue foods. A serving measures 1/2 cups. It is best if you get 12 to 15 servings each day. Furthermore, many of these colorful foods can be eaten in even larger quantities if you are hungry or need to graze occasionally.
A second disease we will look at is diabetes. Often these two diseases go hand in hand. They have similar causes. Our Standard American Diet (SAD) focuses too much on grains and high carbohydrate content foods that turn into sugar and fat if we do not exercise enough to wear them off. This diet results in too much weight, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and other complications as we age. Therefore, it is imperative that we reverse the direction our health is going once we hear the diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes.
So how do you turn that diagnosis around? Much the same way as you turn high blood pressure around. Building your meals around fresh vegetables, good quality protein, healthy oils, eliminating sugary foods will reverse the diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes. Exercise is as important as what you eat. Get moving in some way and keep moving.
The third type of diagnoses we will cover are digestive related challenges. This includes everything from IBS, to constipation, to Crohn’s disease, to Celiac, and any disease that has to do with the Gastro-Intestinal tract from the mouth to the anis. They are all related! Because we are given antibiotics for every sniffle, eat foods with too many preservatives, eat fried foods, pesticide-laden foods, and drink alcohol and other destructive beverages, our GI tract suffers. Emotional stress adds to the destruction of our good gut flora as well.
How do we fix our guts? Much the same way as we fix the other diseases. Stay away from destructive food and drink. that means eliminating fast fried foods, alcohol, anti-biotics, preserved foods, and soft drinks. Eat foods that will replace your good gut flora and, since the leaky gut syndrome is probably present, work on totally repairing the gut. Good probiotics, colostrum, some full-fat yogurts, fermented foods like sauerkraut kimchi, some unsweetened fermented teas, and healthy fats will all help rebuild your gut flora. Will it happen overnight? No. But you did not get into the mess you may be in overnight either. Our bodies are so good at self-repair and fighting off the bad that it takes years to get into a bad situation. It takes time to reverse that situation.
In Alternative Health, we address all dimensions. A good mental attitude, being spiritually grounded, and having a belief that you are in control of your health are all just as important as what you put into your mouth! If you do not believe you are in control you will not be. We are multi-dimensional beings and we must address all dimensions. No matter what your diagnosis doing things that make you happy, help you feel relaxed, and brightens your spirit will help improve your health.