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October 03, 2020 10 min read

Health can be measured in many ways and is often broken down into a variety of numbers and diagnoses that do not often provide the best picture of what a truly healthy body and mind looks like.

While modern-day western medicine has brought many wonderful and lifesaving advancements, one of the downfalls of western medicine is the often siloed approach to health, which looks at the body in sections of individual symptoms and pieces rather that the whole system it really is.

This is why holistic health is so important, because to truly achieve optimal wellness in the physical, mental, and spiritual sense we have to be viewing and supporting the body as the incredible system it is.

 

WHAT IS HOLISTIC HEALTH?

Holistic health or holistic healing is often defined as a form of healing that looks at the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. This kind of holistic healing often involves multiple complimentary medicines and alternative healthcare practices that can overlap with modern-day western medicine but will go beyond the singular treatment of symptoms to support more than just the body.

Some alternative healthcare practices that often are found within the realm of holistic health are:

  • Ayurveda
  • yoga/meditation
  • energy work (reiki)
  • nutrition
  • chiropractic
  • herbalism
  • massage
  • therapy
  • acupuncture
  • physical therapy
  • general western medicine
  • personal training

When all of these complimentary therapies come together for holistic healing, a person is much more likely to experience wellness on a deeper level that allows for a more joyful and truly healthy way of living.

 

 THE IMPORTANCE OF HOLISTIC HEALTH

Hectic lifestyle in the recent times have resulted in people consuming nutrient depleted foods, experiencing chronically high levels of stress and fatigue, and being exposed to hundreds of potentially harmful chemicals through our air, water, cleaning, and personal care products. So, to say that holistic health is important would be an understatement.

Holistic health also considers the many external and environmental factors which could be supporting or impacting our overall health and wellness. Further, with climate change impacting our surrounding environments more and more each day, it is important that we have a systematic way of addressing health in the future.

 

 THE 5 ASPECTS OF HOLISTIC HEALTH:

PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, SPIRITUAL, AND MENTAL

When it comes to holistic health, we are looking beyond the physical body and are addressing physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. All of these 5 aspects of holistic health are what enable a person to truly live each day in the healthiest, happiest way possible and if one area if compromised, most likely other areas will be as well.

PHYSICAL

Our physical health is what most people think about when they think of health. This is mostly because it is the physical body that often shows us physical signs and symptoms of either optimal or sub-optimal health. These physical signs and symptoms are also easier to track and measure, versus other non-physical signs and symptoms that can feel more abstract.

When it comes to supporting your physical health there are few key practices that everyone can benefit from and can make a huge difference on your overall well-being:

  • Sleep for 8 hours each night. This will allow your body to truly rest and repair from the day.
  • Eat a nutrient dense diet that is high in plant-based foods and organic/pastured animal products.
  • Maintain a balanced blood sugar by eating meals and snacks that contain fat, carbohydrates, and protein every 3-4 hours.
  • Move your body for 30 minutes each day. While every person’s exercise routine will be different, everyone can benefit from at least 30 minutes of movement each day.
  • Limit processed foods and hydrogenated oils which are highly inflammatory and can increase risk of chronic disease.
  • Do not smoke and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.

 EMOTIONAL

While often overlooked, our emotional health is just as important as our physical health — especially because our emotional health can affect our physical health if it is not prioritized.

Ways you can support your emotional health:

  • Seek out therapy when needed. Therapy is an essential part of supporting our emotional health and should be utilized whenever necessary.
  • Practice mindfulness and stress reduction habits that can help you better manage life’s daily stressors.
  • Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings. Use your journal to record what you are grateful for as it can help bring positivity into times of stress.

SOCIAL

Research has shown that the happiest people on earth have deep connections with their friends, family, and community. This is often why religion is connected with happiness as it can provide a deep sense of community and support, no matter what faith a person chooses.

Ways that you can support your social health:

  • Make time for in-person connection. While technology has allowed for us to feel connected more, research has shown that virtual connection still does not provide us with the same level of happiness as in-person connection does.
  • Get involved in your local community. Whether this is through your church, local volunteer organizations, clubs, or programs at your kids’ school — getting involved in your local community is one of the best ways you can support your social health and improve happiness.
  • Set boundaries with people in your life that may increase stress or bring about toxic energy. Also do not be afraid to walk away from friendships and relationships that are negatively affecting your health.

SPIRITUAL

Spiritual wellness does not necessarily mean that you need to become religious, although the two often have overlapping practices and principles. Instead your spiritual health should focus on how you are connecting with your inner soul, and the greater world around you.

Ways you can support your spiritual health:

  • Spend time in nature
  • Spend a few minutes each day meditating
  • If you are religious, take the time to practice your faith

 MENTAL

The last aspect of holistic health is our mental health, which often overlaps with both our emotional and physical health. The big distinction between our mental and emotional health though is that while our emotional health refers mostly to our daily mood and emotions, our mental health refers to our cognitive abilities that affect how our brain functions.

Ways that you can support your mental health:

  • Always keep your mind active by seeking out learning opportunities and problem-solving practices that challenge your brain.
  • Consume nutrient dense foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that will help reduce overall inflammation and support cognitive function.
  • Avoid excessive drinking, smoking, and consuming recreational drugs.
  • Improve gut health with gut healing foods like bone broth and prebiotic and probiotic rich foods. Since the brain is directly connected to the gut a healthy gut is essential for a healthy mind.

 

World’s oldest holistic healing science - Ayurveda

Ayurveda – meaning Science/Knowledge of Life, in Sanskrit, is a 5000+ years old science that originated in India. It is often considered as the Mother of all healing.

It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Its main goal is to promote good health, not fight disease.

In the United States, it’s considered a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

According to the Ayurvedic approach, your physical and mental harmony should match nature’s rhythm; meaning, the rhythm that the sun and moon create should be in tandem to your lifestyle if you want to attain a level of holistic living.

 

Ayurveda and Your Life Energy

Students of CAM therapy believe that everything in the universe – dead or alive – is connected. If your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe, you have good health. When something disrupts this balance, you get sick. Among the things that can upset this balance are genetic or birth defects, injuries, climate and seasonal change, age, and your emotions.

Those who practice Ayurveda believe every person is made of five basic elements found in the universe: space, air, fire, water, and earth.

These combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. They are Vata dosha (space and air); Pitta dosha (fire and water); and Kapha dosha (water and earth).

The concept of Dosha’s can be quite confusing and so without diving too deep into the technical details, touching upon some basic information below that can help you understand some key concepts of Ayurveda and how it can help you lead a Holistic Lifestyle.

 

The Three Life Forces

Everyone is born with a unique mix of the three doshas (Vata, Pitta & Kapha). But one is usually stronger than the others. Each one controls a different body function. It is believed that your chances of getting sick -- and the health issues you develop -- are linked to the balance of your doshas.

Here are some of the main characteristics for each of the 3 dosha (Life Forces)

  • Pitta (fire + water).Intelligent, hard-working, and decisive. This dosha generally has a medium physical build, short temper, and may suffer from conditions like indigestion, heart disease, or high blood pressure.
  • Vata (air + space). Creative, energetic, and lively. People with this dosha are usually thin with a light frame and may struggle with digestive issues, fatigue, or anxiety when out of balance.
  • Kapha (earth + water). Naturally calm, grounded, and loyal. Those with a kapha dosha often have a sturdier frame and may have issues with weight gain, asthma, depression, or diabetes.

Ayurvedic Diet

The Ayurvedic diet is an eating pattern that has been around for thousands of years. It is a type of eating plan that sets guidelines for when, how, and what you should eat and what you should avoid eating based on your dosha, or body type. According to this diet, your dosha determines which foods you should eat to promote inner balance.

It is also popular because it is not only said to promote better health for your body but also your mind. Although the Ayurvedic diet has specific guidelines for each dosha, the diet as a whole encourages eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. This can benefit your health greatly, as these foods are rich in many essential nutrients. The diet also minimizes processed foods, which often lack fiber and important vitamins and minerals. Given that the Ayurvedic diet emphasizes nutrient-rich whole foods, it might boost weight loss.

In addition to what foods you eat, mindfulness is another major part of the Ayurvedic diet. Mindfulness is a practice that involves paying close attention to how you feel in the present.

 

What to eat and What not to 

In Ayurveda, foods are categorized based on their physical qualities and the way they are said to affect your body. This helps determine which ingredients work best for different doshas.

For example, the pitta dosha focuses on cooling, energizing foods and limits spices, nuts, and seeds.

Meanwhile, the vata dosha favors warm, moist, and grounding foods while restricting dried fruits, bitter herbs, and raw veggies.

Finally, the kapha dosha limits heavy foods like nuts, seeds, and oils in favor of fruits, veggies, and legumes.

Red meat, artificial sweeteners, and processed ingredients are limited for all three doshas. Instead, the Ayurvedic diet encourages eating healthy whole foods.

 

Below are some of the foods you should eat based on your specific dosha.

Pitta

  • Protein: poultry in small amounts, egg whites, tofu
  • Dairy: milk, ghee, butter
  • Fruits: sweet, fully ripe fruits like oranges, pears, pineapples, bananas, melons, and mangoes
  • Vegetables: sweet and bitter veggies, including cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, zucchini, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and Brussels sprouts
  • Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, mung beans, lima beans, black beans, kidney beans
  • Grains: barley, oats, basmati rice, wheat
  • Nuts and seeds: small amounts of pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut
  • Herbs and spices: small amounts of black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, dill, turmeric

Vata

  • Protein: small amounts of poultry, seafood, tofu
  • Dairy: milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, ghee
  • Fruits: fully ripe, sweet, and heavy fruits, such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, mangoes, peaches, and plums
  • Vegetables: cooked vegetables, including beets, sweet potatoes, onions, radishes, turnips, carrots, and green beans
  • Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, mung beans
  • Grains: cooked oats, cooked rice
  • Nuts and seeds: any, including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, chia seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • Herbs and spices: cardamom, ginger, cumin, basil, cloves, oregano, thyme, black pepper

Kapha

  • Protein: poultry in small amounts, seafood, egg whites
  • Dairy: skim milk, goat milk, soy milk
  • Fruits: apples, blueberries, pears, pomegranates, cherries, and dried fruit like raisins, figs, and prunes
  • Vegetables: asparagus, leafy greens, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, radishes, okra
  • Legumes: any, including black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and navy beans
  • Grains: oats, rye, buckwheat, barley, corn, millet
  • Nuts and seeds: small amounts of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
  • Herbs and spices: any, including cumin, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, basil, oregano, and thyme

 

Here are some of the foods you should limit or avoid based on your dosha.

Pitta

  • Proteins: red meat, seafood, egg yolks
  • Dairy: sour cream, cheese, buttermilk
  • Fruits: sour or unripe fruits, such as grapes, apricots, papaya, grapefruit, and sour cherries
  • Vegetables: chili peppers, beets, tomatoes, onions, eggplant
  • Grains: brown rice, millet, corn, rye
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, sesame seeds
  • Herbs and spices: any spices not included in the list above

Vata

  • Proteins: red meat
  • Fruits: dried, unripe, or light fruits, such as raisins, cranberries, pomegranates, and pears
  • Vegetables: any raw vegetables, as well as cooked broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes
  • Legumes: beans, such as black beans, kidney beans, and navy beans
  • Grains: buckwheat, barley, rye, wheat, corn, quinoa, millet
  • Herbs and spices: bitter or astringent herbs like parsley, thyme, and coriander seed

Kapha

  • Proteins: red meat, shrimp, egg yolks
  • Fruits: bananas, coconuts, mangoes, fresh figs
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers
  • Legumes: soybeans, kidney beans, miso
  • Grains: rice, wheat, cooked cereal
  • Nuts and seeds: cashews, pecans, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, walnuts

 

Ayurveda is a complex science that cannot be summarized in a short article such as this, but hopefully this preliminary information has given you a glimpse into the world of Ayurveda and a starting point if you wish to explore more. Just as with any diet plan, it is highly recommended to meet with a certified Ayurvedic practitioner, understand your body type and follow recommended guidelines before venturing into any diet plan of your own.

But you can definitely start by making simple changes to your daily routine such as eating healthy, minimizing sugar intake, introducing some form of physical activity, and getting a good night sleep. Take a look at the products you use on a regular basis and make a note of how much they may be contributing towards your healthy lifestyle. You could consider looking at Tezahn, natural herbal infusions, which are made with 100% organic ingredients whose Ayurvedic wellness properties fuel your mind, body, and spirit.

 

Conclusion

At the end of the day, holistic health is a product of the interplay between the various factors described above. A good balanced of all aspects of wellness is essential for an overall well-being and leading a healthy life. Always take a holistic approach and remember that balance is key!


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