Regenerative Health Care :What the Republic of Ghana can teach us about Health
I recently read an article about the change in Health policy in the Republic of Ghana. It reported that they have implemented a new program titled “ The Regenerative Health and Nutrition Program.” This program is aimed at transforming the health, lives and socioeconomic development of its citizens.
It is their attempt to combat the rising incidence and subsequent cost of Chronic disease in their country. What we refer to as chronic disease is in fact Lifestyle Diseases, such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Hypertension, Cancer as well as all of the other diseases tat are associated with how citizens live their lives.
The main objective of this program is to reduce the risk of occurrence of these diseases and disorders for individuals, households and communities. This in turn will foster a population that contributes to the development of a healthier and more productive community who can then create prosperity for itself and the country.
Regenerative Health is actually the attainment of optimal health and mental wellbeing through the adoption of Holistic Healthy Lifestyles that strengthen and RENEW the body and the mind……and actually PREVENT the diseases that are plaguing their communities. What they seem to be saying is that everyone has the capacity to create an environment that is fertile for GREAT health.
These principles mirror what some Health Care Practitioners in the United States are calling Life Style Medicine. This term was coined by one of my mentors Dr. Jeffery Bland , which referred to treating and preventing many diseases with Lifestyle Changes. These Life Style Changes include, but are not limited to, what people eat, how they move their bodies, their job satisfaction, sleep, rest and social interactions.
“ The most essential skill in life is to learn how to take care of ourselves, nutritionally, physically and emotionally.” Lilo Ack-Hendriksen
One of the reasons that I became a Holistic HealthCare Practitioner is a strong desire to help people attain their optimal health. I have learned over the years that the key to great health and a long active life is Life Style Medicine. I believe that there are Five Cornerstones that need to be addressed in the Regenerative / Lifestyle Medicine approach to health. They are Nutrition, Sleep, Physical Activity, Social Interactions and Mindfulness.
Nutrition is the First Cornerstone and one of the most important tools that we can use to attain and keep our good health. The food that we eat everyday will affect our immune system, inflammation, blood sugar, insulin levels, detoxification pathways, hormone balance, cardiovascular health, not to mention that it speaks directly to our genes. It is extremely important that we are choosing the right food for ourselves giving consideration to our unique makeup and personal health concerns. Many of us would benefit greatly from working with a Holistic Nutritionist to develop a healthy nutrition plan that is tailored for us. Ultimately though can keep in mind the advice of food writer Mark Bittman which is to “Eat REAL food [ not processed ], Not Too Much and eat mostly plants.”
Sleep is the SecondCornerstone for improving and keeping our health. Sleep is often something that we take for granted ( until we don’t have it). Most of us are not aware of the critical things that happen in or bodies when we sleep. Good Sleep helps us fight stress, maintain a healthy weight, and strengthens our immune system. Sleep should be taken seriously and the timing of our sleep matters. There are many systems in our bodies that depend on a circadian rhythm in order to get their jobs done, It is during these optimal times that our bodies repair and regenerate tissue and organs systems. The closer we can get to the sleep window of 10 pm – 6 am the better our body can recover from what it has been exposed to day in and day out.
Physical Activity – Moving our Bodies is the Third Cornerstone of good health. Because most people in our modern society do not get adequate physical activity in their jobs we must find a way to integrate physical activity into our daily lives. Sedentary lifestyles are on of the major causes of disease in our country. We need a combination of movement that includes strength, flexibility and cardiovascular activity to be fully healthy. Movement influences the genetic expression of each individual cell.
Social Interactions, the Fourth Pillar, are critical to our health. There is research that says that are the average of the five people that we spend most of our time with. We must choose these people wisely because they affect our thinking, our self esteem, our habits ( good and bad) and our decisions. When we have social interactions with people we love and admire we have a better quality of life and ultimately better health. When we socialize we have greater releases of a hormone called Oxytocin, “The Love hormone.” When Oxytocin is present in out bloodstream it is known to reduce the stress response, it improves our sleep, it fosters generosity and it promotes attachments which create a nurturing and enriched community.
The Fifth Pillar focuses on Mindfulness. Mindfulness has been found to be a key element in happiness and vibrant health. Every study on Mindfulness tells us that it is proven to reduce stress and its negative side effects, lowers blood pressure, reduces heart disease, reduces chronic pain, decreases anxiety, depression as well as decreases fatigue. Mindfulness can be any practice that purposely focus our attention to the present moment. Developing a Mindfulness practice does not have to be a “one size fits all”. There are many ways to incorporate this into our lives. Walking mediation, prayer, Yoga Nidra, listening to peaceful music and a simple walk on the beach are all forms of Mindfulness.
Ultimately, we have to recognize that OUR health is our own hands First. We must take the care and responsibility for creating good health and longevity in our lives. If we touch on each of these Cornerstones in our daily habits and activities we have an opportunity to have the health that we want.
The primary mission of all of us at Integrative Acupuncture is to help our patients and future patients be successful in these Five Pillars of health. We have a dedicated team of Health Care Practitioners that are trained to give knowledge and guidance to each and every patient.