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Does a healthy diet, lifestyle and medical plan exist ?

February 3, 2016

Every year there are thousands of books, magazine articles and newspaper columns written about health. The truth is that when we genuinely explore the body-mind and its relationship to the world around us, a picture of extraordinary complexity begins to emerge.

With the development of genetic profiling we now understand that we all carry unique genetic variations that impact our absorption and assimilation of nutrients, along with the production, development and function of our cells. The field of epigenetics then suggests that potentially everything we do, think and feel (certainly with significant intensity and/or repetition) could affect our genetic expression (how genes are switched on or off), regardless of our existing genetic profile. Indeed, this statement applies to every biochemical process in the body.

We are all affected by environmental issues such as pollution, pesticides, sunlight and climate, and lifestyle variables such as work, relationships, travel, injuries, illness etc….and then there’s research into the microbiome, the ecosystem of the gut, that tells us about the unique combination of millions of bacterial and viral cells that we all carry, many of which have been present from birth.

Modern medical science has certainly made progress, especially in the treatment of acute conditions, but its assessment of many healthcare approaches from pharmaceuticals to physical therapies is based upon the ‘gold standard’ of double-blind clinical trials which are far more problematic and unreliable than many people realise. The details are a subject for another blog post, but l note that there are multiple, genuine concerns about the potential flaws in this approach to medical testing based around political and personal issues, financial gain and the difficulty of controlling and factoring for placebo effect.

In our search for health and wellness we always need to hold a balanced perspective. In a recent workshop on ‘Virtues and Vices in Evidence-Based Clinical Practice’ (organised by The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University), Iona Heath (past President of the Royal College of General Practitioners) spoke about the balancing act between (on the one hand) the scientific-rational virtues of prudence and commitment to evidence based research findings, and (on the other hand) the humanistic-narrative virtues of inter-subjectivity and respect for different experiences.

The traditional systems of medicine and health lacked the technology that is available today, but they always used the available evidence and theory while viewing each person as a unique individual, and constructed a treatment plan according to many different factors.

What becomes clear for me is that a true and skilled physician or healer from any tradition is both artist and scientist, humanist and doctor.

So does a healthy diet, lifestyle and medical plan actually exist ? Yes – if we accept the complexity of these issues and pursue ongoing enquiry based around some fundamentals that are generally important, even though these may not all work for each of us.

My basic list emerges as follows:

Eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes and lean or plant-based protein
Stay hydrated
Eat less processed sugar
Eat less processed carbs
Exercise with appropriate intensity for at least 15 mins, approx 3 times per week
Make sleep a priority
Make relaxation a priority
Actively seek social support
Sit less and for shorter periods at work and move more often during the day
Decide when to switch off technology and practice this
Leave 10 – 12 hrs between dinner and breakfast the next day without any big snacks
Have a daily meditation practice that could include any hobby (ie walking, gardening)
Trust your own experience as much as any healthcare practitioner’s theory
Carefully monitor your own experience of any medication, herb or food supplement
And obviously consult a doctor for any severe, acute condition or medical emergency

Along with my East-West integrative approach I continue to work with colleagues to offer (carefully considered) genetic profiling as well as blood tests. We are all explorers together…….
Spencer Joseph

  1. I like this post! Reading all the way through, I thought you would maybe like to strike a deeper conversation about health lol.

    What are your thoughts on cryogenics and age reversing? Do you think it will change the way we eat and live?

    If you didn’t know of him, look for David Sinclair on YouTube and Google. He’s this Australian bio scientist who apparently discovered a way to reverse age. According to him and many other scientists, aging is a curable disease.

    Do you think living longer will drive us to become more conscious about everything and anything or do you think it’s a bad idea?

    • Interesting questions. I imagine that future research will bring many unexpected findings about the complex nature and interaction of organic life and consciousness. Aging itself is not obviously either a disease or a condition that requires a cure.

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