Dr Bonnie Walker is a chiropractor and acupuncturist, founder of Wellspring Chiropractic and Acupuncture Center www.wellspring-healing.com where she has served the “cradle to grave, sickness and health” needs of the High Country since 1990. She co-founded Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine in Sugar Grove, and lectures on acupuncture to her fellow health professionals.
Q & A
Q: The biggest question is, “Just what is health?” If you’re going on a journey to health, how do you know when you’ve arrived?
A: First of all, health is not a static state; it’s a state of dynamic balance in all physical, mental and emotional aspects. Things that upset our health balance come along all the time, but you are usually capable of handling most of them and staying in balance. The term is “homeostasis.” Your body is programmed by your DNA to be self-healing, self-reproducing, and self-protecting, automatically. But health is not a place you can just go to and stay there…it takes constant awareness and maintenance.
Health is also not just the absence of active acute or chronic disease. It’s not “managing” or “coping” with lots of symptoms with drugs. What it is is a truly achievable state of physical, mental and emotional balance.
Q: Why do we see so many sick people? Why does it seem so hard to stay healthy?
A: The main reason is that no one really understands what health is. People get sick when they are out of balance. There are some basic ground rules of keeping in balance. The body has certain requirements in order to do its job of keeping you alive. This human animal runs on Food, Air, and Water. The quality and quantity of what you eat, drink and breathe determines the quality of your life, it’s as simple as that. Your energy, hormones, nerve impulses, immune factors, blood, emotions all depend on what you invite into your body. When we get sick, that’s the body’s way of telling you there’s something else it needs in order to work better. It works like the indicator lights on the dashboard of your car. It’s your job to heed those signals and supply those needs. The trick is to know what we need…our body didn’t come with an instruction manual like the one in our car! You know better than to put water in the radiator when the oil light comes on. Most of would never put sugar in the gas tank of our car, but just look at the junk we put in our stomach!
Q: So what can I do to stay healthy?
A: First and foremost is to accept personal responsibility for your health, and be willing to change whatever is making you sick and try something that will make you well. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. Take an honest inventory of your personal health practices and make the commitment to yourself to improve them. Next, build a good foundation by starting with the basics: Food, Air and Water. The quality of food determines the quality of your energy. You really are what you eat. If you eat garbage, you’re going to feel like garbage. So eat good food. Drink water. Breathe…constantly, deeply and regularly. That’s not so hard now, is it?
Q: How do I know the right foods to eat? All the “experts” seem to disagree! I’m so confused!
A: First of all, if anyone tries to tell you that everybody should eat a certain diet, they’re wrong. There is no such thing as “everybody”. No less than 72 different metabolic types have been identified. We are unique individuals with widely differing needs, even in one individual at different ages and conditions. A growing girl has very different needs for protein, calcium, fat, and other nutrients, than a pregnant woman or one well past menopause. Your nutritional needs vary with the seasons of the year as well as the seasons of your life, and even with your stress levels.
One handy trick is to sniff your food before you gobble it down. Your body will signal if that’s what it needs by increasing the flow of saliva or a gurgle of the stomach. Stop eating when you’re about 80% full. It takes a few minutes for your brain to realize you’re full, and in that short lag time you could overeat by 20%.
Also, if you tend to eat when you’re tired or bored, take 5 minutes and do some deep breathing before you chow down on that bag of Doritos. You’ll be both relaxed and energized, and you’ll avoid all those calories!
Q: Why is breathing so important?
A: In every cell of your body, oxygen is combined with digested food to make energy. This fuels every biochemical process that happens in the body. It also detoxifies poisons that occur within the body. So if you don’t breathe…inhale and exhale…completely, frequently and regularly, you start to starve for energy and drown in your own toxins.
We can live for several months without food; we can live for several weeks without water. But if we are cut off from oxygen for only 4 MINUTES, the brain begins to die. And yet we hold our breath when stressed or concentrating, when that’s when we need that energy the most. Breathe. It’s good for you.
Q: Why do I need water, and how much do I need? I drink lots of sweet tea and sodas; does that count?
A: The human body is about 70-80% water. Clean, pure water is the best thing to cleanse the body of toxins, repel colds and flu, relieve stress, make your skin glow, improve digestion, lower blood pressure, and much more. We need to consume ½ ounce of clean pure water for every pound of body weight. Tea, coffee, juices, soda etc. don’t count. They already have stuff dissolved in them and won’t cleanse your body any more than a dirty mop will clean your kitchen floor. Tea and coffee are diuretics and increase your need for water, and sweet drinks make your blood thicker and less fluid.
Q: Is there anything else that I can do to stay healthy?
A: Two final things round out the body’s requirements for health; Movement and Joy. The human body is designed for movement, about 7 miles a day. It doesn’t matter whether it’s walking, dancing swimming, biking, running, taiji or yoga; get up and move! Be sure it’s something you enjoy and you’ll be more motivated to do it.
This brings us to the final ingredient for good balanced health: Joy. Do what you enjoy, work at doing something you love, cultivate relationships with people who uplift you. Enjoy nature. Watch funny movies. Do something nice or helpful for someone. Smile. It literally changes brain chemistry and can work better than medications.
Dr Bonnie’s Common Sense Tips for Health
Food: Only eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re 80% full. Choose as much in season, organic, local foods as possible. Sniff your food first. If it’s what you need, you’ll salivate
Air: Breathe. Deeply, then exhale fully. Then do it again, and again and again. Breathe when you’re upset, in pain, bored, hungry, or tired. It works better than antidepressants, pain meds, cigarettes or alcohol. And it’s FREE!! The only side effect is you’ll feel better.
Water: your body is as much as 80% water. The optimum water intake is ½ oz for every pound of body weight. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Movement: our body is designed for movement. It doesn’t matter how you move, just move it! Do something you enjoy and it brings the joy mentioned in #5. An additional bonus, it helps you to BREATHE more! (See #2)
Happiness: Joy is just as important to our health as food. Find activities, locations, friends and occupations that give you joy. Do something nice for someone. Watch a comedy video. Smile.
Claim personal responsibility for your lifestyle choices and make a commitment to your health.
Choose your health advisers wisely. It’s been found that among folks whose general practitioners encouraged self-care and complementary therapies, life expectancy increased significantly.