wellness regimen, healthy diet, activity, hydration, nutritional supplementation

Back To The Basics

Back To The Basics

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com

The arrival of the New Year is much like the start of a new season in sports. It brings a sense that the slate is clean and that there is an opportunity to begin anew. It is often a time of reflection and resolving to do better.

As teams arrive in training camp for their preseason workouts they inevitably go back to the basics. The focus is not so much on developing new strategies as it is on conditioning and on developing the skills necessary to play well. Depending upon the sport, these may include running, throwing, catching, blocking, tackling, dribbling, or shooting.

The same should be true for each of us as we resolve to do better in 2004. No matter what aspect of our life we are hoping to improve, it is always best to go back to the basics. This is particularly true in improving our state of wellness.

I present what I consider “The Basics” of wellness at the beginning of each of my Wellness Forums. I do not believe in the magic bullet approach to health; there is no single supplement that will restore health if the basics are ignored. My protocols specific to various health challenges always build off of the basics.

I see examples of this regularly. A short time ago an individual who was fighting depression called me to report his progress. I had recommended that he follow the basic regimen and add 5-HTP, the last building block needed in the manufacture of seratonin. After doing well for a time he had noted symptoms of depression returning. I asked what had changed. He was under no undue stress. He was still taking the 5-HTP. He had run out of his broad-spectrum vitamin/mineral/amino acid supplement several weeks before, he admitted, and had not bothered to refill it.

I was not surprised that his symptoms had returned, for 5-HTP does not automatically turn into seratonin when it enters the body. The vitamin and mineral nutrients that are required for its conversion to seratonin must also be present. As the level of those substances fell, the process stalled, and the young man’s symptoms of seratonin deficiency returned.

Looking back over the first five volumes of this letter recently, I realized that while I have presented the basics of wellness, I have never put them together in a cohesive, succinct manner. I did not find an article I could give to someone and say, “Read this. These are the basics of wellness. Practice them regularly and most of the health challenges so commonly seen in our society will never come your way.” It seemed fitting, therefore, that I should begin the New Year with that article.

Drinking pure water is the first wellness basic. The body’s need for water is so great that entire books have been written on the subject. It is required for nearly all life processes. Water is second only to the oxygen we breathe as the substance most necessary to maintain life. It is possible to survive for weeks without food, but death will occur within days if water is unavailable.

Our bodies lose water in many ways. It is estimated that the average person loses a pint of water each day through invisible evaporation from the skin. Water is lost each time we exhale (even when it’s not cold enough to “see our breath”). This also adds up to about a pint each day. The water required for excretion of toxins in the urine and stool adds to the total volume lost each day, as does any visible perspiration.

Because much of the water loss is independent of size, children require relatively more water than do adults. To replace water losses, it is necessary to take in approximately 1½ ounces per pound of body weight daily for the first 20 pounds, 1 ounce per pound of body weight for the next 20 pounds, and 1 ounce for every 7 pounds of body weight thereafter. (See the examples given in figure 1.) This represents approximately 6 to 8 glasses daily for children and 8 to 10 glasses daily for most adults.

Water intake must be increased if one is physically active and in hot weather. Since thirst does not occur until mild dehydration has already set in, it is not a reliable indicator of hydration status. A more accurate indicator is urine volume and concentration. Passing pale urine every few hours indicates that adequate water stores are present. As dehydration develops, urinary frequency decreases and the color deepens. Dark urine passed at infrequent intervals is indicative of moderate to severe dehydration.

I recommend that reverse osmosis or distilled water be used for drinking water. Minerals may be added for taste. Tap water contains too many contaminants. Most well water has been affected by agricultural and industrial run-off into ground water, and most city water has been chlorinated. Neither is conducive to optimum wellness.

Shower or bath water should be filtered as well. Substances are absorbed through the skin very efficiently. Drugs, for example, are commonly administered via patches or creams. It is possible to absorb more chlorine and other toxins through the skin in one five minute shower than it is possible to take in drinking unpurified water throughout an entire day.

Breathing clean air is as important as drinking pure water. If you are a non-smoker, don’t start, and if you are a smoker do whatever is necessary to stop. It is difficult to imagine anything more damaging to optimum health than inhaling hot, noxious gases on a regular basis.

It is said that the indoor air quality in most American homes is worse than the outdoor air quality in large U.S. cities. Steps should be taken to correct this situation. Filters in heating and air conditioning systems should be changed regularly. In addition, air purifiers should also be used. It is generally best to use two or more smaller units than it is to use one large unit as walls hinder their effectiveness.

The human body is incredibly complex in design. It is structural, having flesh and bone. It is biochemical, containing a vast array of salts, sugars, oils, minerals, enzymes, and similar substances that participate in a nearly infinite number of chemical reactions.

The body is also electromagnetic. Physicians order electrocardiograms, electroencephalograms, electromyelograms, and nerve conduction studies to monitor the body’s electrical activity. MRIs, magnetic resonance images, of the human body have become a routine part of many diagnostic workups.

As electromagnetic entities, we are either gaining energy from or losing energy to the surrounding electromagnetic environment on a moment-by-moment basis. While I am often asked about the dangers of living near power lines (the risk is minimal), I am almost never asked about the dangers of daily exposure to chaotic electromagnetic fields (computers, video screens, electric blankets, clock radios, etc.) and microwaves (cell phones). Most people seem to have a cavalier attitude about the infinite number of energies with which they are constantly being bombarded (radio waves, television waves, radar waves, etc.)

It is becoming clear that electromagnetic disturbances play a significant role in the onset of illness. This challenge can and must be addressed with devices that provide personal protection from electromagnetic disturbances.

Physical activity is another key to optimum wellness. It has been said that if exercise could be bottled and sold as an elixir, it would be priceless. Perhaps the value of physical activity is under-appreciated because it is something that requires little or no financial investment. Yes, it is possible to invest thousands of dollars in exercise equipment, but it is not necessary to reap the benefits. A simple walk will suffice.

We now know that even limited amounts of activity pay great dividends. People who do household chores such as making beds, vacuuming, and dusting fare better over time than people who are less active. So do people who work in their yards, take a daily walk, or do any type of activity that gets their body moving on a regular basis.

To achieve optimum benefits from activity, it is necessary to get the body moving and keep it moving for approximately thirty minutes, three to five times a week. Signs of going too fast, too soon, are an inability to carry on a conversation while engaged in the activity, an inability to continue moving for at least 20 minutes without stopping to rest, and feeling stiff the next day, like a tin man or woman who was left out in the rain.

Good nutrition is a critical element of a basic wellness program. Sound eating habits lay the foundation and supplements complete the nutritional makeup required to maintain health.

I recommend that five dietary rules be followed. The first is to keep the diet colorful. Fruits and vegetables provided most of the color to any meal. They are higher in nutrients and lower in saturated fat and empty calories than other foods found in the diet.

Secondly, stick to foods that would remain palatable at room temperature. This does not mean that meals must be eaten cold. It simply means to ask the question, “What would look and taste like if it were at room temperature.

This rule is designed to get the potentially harmful saturated fat out of the diet. If you see the food coated with congealed fat and having a greasy texture that you would shun at room temperature, don’t eat it “hot and juicy” either.

On the other hand, fats that are liquid at room temperature should be included in the diet. Using an oil-based salad dressing enables the body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients more effectively. Flax oil has a particularly beneficial balance of fats. Incorporating a tablespoon of flax oil per 100 pounds of body weight into the daily diet will help ensure a sufficient supply of fatty acids for skin health, efficient operation of the nervous system, manufacture of anti-inflammatory compounds, and proper formation of the blood platelets to help prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Stick to unrefined foods. This rule has two components. It is important to limit the use white sugars, flours, and grains. It is also important to minimize the consumption of food additives and preservatives. Become a label reader when grocery shopping. If one of the first few ingredients ends in “ose” (the code for sugar), mention is made of “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” fats, or you have difficulty pronouncing some of the ingredients, put the item back onto the shelf rather than into your body. A good strategy is to shop the periphery of the supermarket instead of the interior aisles. You will find that most of the items on the periphery are unadulterated foods, while those in the center are processed and filled with additives, dyes, and preservatives.

Meat portions should be limited to approximately four ounces per meal. This is the size of an average deck of playing cards or the size of the palm of the hand.

Varying the foods that are included in the diet will help to prevent food allergies. It will also help assure the availability of a broader variety of nutrients.

The body requires well over 100 nutrients to function properly. Since only a few of these can be obtained in adequate quantities from a good diet, it is necessary to obtain them through supplementation. A partial list of essential nutrients includes vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, fatty acids, amino acids, and minerals. Approximately 72 minerals are required. Some, such as calcium and magnesium, are needed in large amounts, but most are required in small numbers. They are referred to as “trace minerals” because only a small intake, a “trace” amount, is required.

When supplementing nutrients it is important to understand that the one-a-day concept is a marketing myth. Water-soluble nutrients like the B vitamins and vitamin C do their job and are passed out of the body very quickly. They must be supplied at least twice daily if optimum levels are to be maintained. Additionally, the quantities of nutrients found in a typical one-a-day formulation are far too low to supply the body’s needs. Additional quantities of the vitamins and minerals are required.

It is possible to start with a typical multivitamin and purchase additional beta-carotene, B-Complex, C, D, E, calcium, magnesium, chromium, selenium, and trace minerals separately. When attempting to meet one’s nutritional needs in this manner, however, the number of bottles required quickly becomes overwhelming. That is why I personally use and recommend comprehensive formulations that contain nearly all of the essential nutrients in one bottle. Such preparations have the added advantage of being adaptable to individual needs.

A petite 106-pound lady does not need to supplement the same amount of nutrients as a 235-pound man. When a single tablet or capsule contains the proper ratio of nutrients it is easy to determine how many should be taken by individuals of different sizes. This sort of individualization is generally not possible when nutrients are being purchased separately.

In addition to the broad-spectrum vitamin, mineral, and amino acid formulation I recommend a green plant supplement, a formulation to provide higher levels of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, and an OPC preparation.

Green plants help the body utilize other nutrients. They also aid in maintaining a proper acid-base balance in the body. If the body becomes too acidic, degenerative conditions are likely to develop. Greens such as barley or wheat grass have an alkalinizing effect, meaning that they reduce the acidity of the body.

I also recommend a supplement specific to preventing osteoporosis be included in most basic regimens. This should include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and the trace mineral, boron. The magnesium aids in the absorption and utilization of calcium, the vitamin D tells the body what to do with the calcium, and the boron acts like a key that unlocks the door to the bone, allowing calcium to enter more freely.

An OPC supplement is the fourth and final component of a basic nutritional regimen. OPCs or oligoproanthocyanidins, are plant compounds found in substances such as grape seed, grape skin, and pine bark. They have a number of beneficial actions in the body. OPCs tend to strengthen capillaries and veins, protect against damaging free radicals, stabilize the cells that release histamine, increase elasticity of muscles and connective tissues, and carry antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin E into the brain. They have also been shown to help reverse the changes that lead to the emergence of cancer in the body.

What is put onto the body is often as important as what is put into the body. Just as it is important to filter shower or bath water to prevent the absorption of toxins through the skin, so it is important to select personal care items such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and cosmetics that are free of toxic ingredients. Many common household cleaners contain highly toxic substances. Some are capable of irritating the lining of the sinuses and bronchial tubes and, if inhaled in sufficient quantities, can cause chemical pneumonitis, a form of pneumonia. When these chemicals are absorbed though the skin they can damage red blood cells, trigger liver inflammation, and disrupt the function of the body’s defense mechanisms.

Non-toxic cleaners and personal care items are available and are gradually being introduced into the marketplace. Rosalie and I have found items that perform as well as, and often better the products that contain substances that are hazardous to our health. I encourage everyone who is interested in staying well over time to do likewise.

Messages that affect out thoughts can be even more damaging than chemical toxins.

Television and radio news broadcasts, talk shows, newspapers, news magazines, and Internet news reports are filled with items designed to trigger emotional responses such as anxiety, frustration, anger, or bitterness. Such emotions increase the body’s acidity. This increases the likelihood of premature aging and degenerative diseases.

Finally, nourishing the spirit is of utmost importance in achieving optimum health. “A joyful heart,” says an ancient proverb, “is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Nothing will destroy health more quickly or completely.

No one ever achieves perfect wellness. By repeatedly going back to the basics, however, it is possible to see improvement over time. The quest for optimum wellness is a lifelong journey that pays dividends every step of the way.


Determining Daily Water Needs

30-Pound Child

1 ½ ounces per pound for the first 20 pounds = 30 ounces

1 ounce per pound for the next 10 pounds = 10 ounces

Total water required each day = 40 ounces

140-Pound Woman

1 ½ ounces per pound for the first 20 pounds = 30 ounces

1 ounce per pound for the next 20 pounds = 20 ounces

1 ounce per 7 pounds thereafter = 14 ounces (140 – 40 = 100) (100/7 = 14)

Total water required each day = 64 ounces

220-Pound Man

1 ½ ounces per pound for the first 20 pounds = 30 ounces

1 ounce per pound for the next 20 pounds = 20 ounces

1 ounce per 7 pounds thereafter = 26 ounces (220 – 40 = 180) (180/7 = 26)

Total water required each day = 76 ounces

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