The interconnected components pivotal to long-term patient care and total wellness
“In the first place, health is to be consulted as the first thing necessary.” — Aristotle
How many times have you heard the phrase, “Good health is the most important thing?” As it turns out, that is a true statement.
How does one define good health? How do we attain and maintain total wellness? The foundation of healthy living is an optimal condition that, when carefully nurtured, becomes a dynamic force allowing you to enjoy life to the fullest. It is a state of being in which there is vitality and renewed vigor every single day. Consider that good health can be categorized into a few integral components called the four pillars of health and wellness. This is important to communicate to patients (and practice ourselves as their doctors) for optimal wellness and chiropractic care results.
The 4 pillars of health and total wellness
These pillars include nutrition, rest, exercise and stress control. Or, in simpler terms: eat, sleep, move, be.
There are certain parts of the world called “Blue Zones” where gold medal winners of longevity exist. These places contain the world’s oldest and healthiest people, including locations such as Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula; Ikaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, Calif. It is a fascinating question to try to determine what the secret to sustained health and wellness might be.
How do they do it? Is it something in the water or the native soil? Could it be family genetics, perhaps? The real secret is this … there is no one secret, no holy grail. True health and wellness takes place on a continuum. It is an ongoing long-term plan you must work toward by making good, healthy choices in your daily life.
A few ‘pillar strengthening’ ideas
EAT (better): We all know by now that optimal nutrition does not come in a plastic bag. The old adage is as true as ever — you are what you eat. Too much of this, not enough of that, the latest diet craze — it is confusing. The simplest way to eat is to incorporate more whole foods into your diet and eat fewer processed foods. Include fruits and vegetables, lean quality proteins and healthy fats. It is possible to eat your way to better health with a little commitment and dedication. Eat local, eat clean or better yet, grow some of your own. A healthy diet promotes bacteria in the gut that help “feel good” signals get through to the brain. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said it best: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
SLEEP (more): The single most restorative and regenerating gift you can give yourself is good-quality sleep. All machines need rest and repair — humans are no different. Sleep deprivation will certainly lead to a breakdown of the system both mentally and physically. Get the recommended 7-9 hours whether you are an early bird or a night owl. Factor in time to prepare for sleep and set a routine that promotes fewer distractions. For a change, try putting your devices down early and pick up a book. Set the DVR to record that show you don’t want to miss. You’ll be rested and have much more energy the next day. Key determinants of quality sleep are included in a report published in Sleep Health (sleepfoundation.org). They include: sleeping longer while in bed (at least 85% of the total time); falling asleep in 30 minutes or less; waking up no more than once per night; and taking no more than 20 minutes to fall back to sleep if you wake up during the night.
MOVE (daily): The bottom line is true health includes regular exercise — physical activities devoted to mental and physical well-being. Where there is movement, there is life. Find an activity you enjoy and do it — regularly. Walking, running, yoga, tai chi, tennis, swimming, circuit training, spin class … the list goes on ad infinitum. When we move, our entire body benefits in many ways including: It strengthens our hearts; it can help with weight loss; it builds strong muscles and bones; it improves your skin, your memory and your brain function; it will help you sleep better; it’s a feel-good factor which reduces anxiety, tension and even depression.
Exercise and supporting the body
When contemplating weight-bearing exercise, a supported foundation is paramount. The feet play an integral part in maximizing the health benefits from weight-bearing movement.
It is our feet that provide the necessary foundational support to bear the effects of loading. The foot’s plantar vault is formed from the three natural arches of the foot. It is this architectural support that allows our foot to absorb and disperse impact with every step taken. Supporting the natural architecture of the feet with custom orthotics that restore healthy function of all three arches should be considered a priority for patients of all ages and activity levels.
Many people have technical issues with the feet, such as pronation, which affects the foot’s ability to absorb and disperse energy at impact. Fortunately, this can be an easy fix. Digitally scanning and assessing the feet allows the clinician to identify imbalances and technical issues with the feet. The data obtained is utilized to create a custom three-arch orthotic, allowing people to move more efficiently.
BE (well): Stress is a part of life, but management of it is often overlooked to the detriment of mental and physical health. Stress can lead to disease and poor health. Our bodies react to stress by producing cortisol, anxiety, higher blood pressure and a weakened immune system over time. Simplify by organizing your day and whenever possible, don’t over-obligate yourself unnecessarily. The most important commodity you have is your time — devote some of it to people you love and to helping others. Be of service in some way to your community. You can be supportive, authentic, loving, giving, purposeful, introspective, mindful or present every single day in some way.
In total wellness, everything is connected
The interconnection between all these components is pivotal to long-term health and total wellness. By incorporating these suggestions slowly over time, you can eat, sleep, move and be in optimal condition.
Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Becoming the healthiest version of yourself will take time. Formulate a plan and a purpose and think of fun ways to share it with others. Be sure to go outside and enjoy life. Plant a garden and share the fruits of your labor with the neighbors … you might make a new friend or embrace an old one. Get involved in device-free activities, give something back and be grateful for your good health. If you make it a daily priority, you will be a gold medal winner too.
KURT A. JUERGENS, DC, CCSP, is a graduate of Brigham Young University and Texas Chiropractic College. He is the owner of Juergens Chiropractic & Sports Rehab Center in Houston, Texas, where he continues to treat student and professional athletes in all fields from around the world. He has been a member of the sports medicine team for the United States Olympic Track and Field Trials, the NCAA Track & Field Championships, and the ATP World Tour’s Tennis Masters Cup and U.S. Clay Court Championships. As a member of Foot Levelers Speakers Bureau, he travels the country speaking on chiropractic topics with a focus on sports medicine. See upcoming continuing education seminars with Foot Levelers Speakers at footlevelers.com/seminars.