In his writing “On Airs, Waters, and Places,” Hippocrates noted the importance of considering every element of environment in its relation to human health. Environmental and integrative medicine are shaped by interconnectivity, if our environment is out of balance we are out of balance. A distressed ecosystem has a negative impact on the health of its organisms. Our intuitive understanding of this important relationship is supported by rigorous scientific studies.
A healthy environment is free of toxins and toxicants. Toxins are naturally occurring poisonous substances derived from living organisms, such as mushrooms or snakes. Toxicants are either synthetic or man-made harmful substances. What does a healthy environment look like? Clean, organized, and private. Optimal temperature, quality air, natural light, and noise control. Inspirations from nature, artwork, and places for rest and contemplation.
Healthy food intake includes a wide variety of whole, unprocessed foods that are free of additives and grown without the use of toxicants. Whole foods provide nutrients that are essential for wellness and vitality, including protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
The role of inflammation in health and well-being highlights the potential for nutrition to heal and protect.
Environmental factors, such as food intake, antibiotic use, and infections, can influence the gut microbiome (the healthy bacteria of our digestive tract). Balancing the gut microbiome is associated with positive mental health. Plant-based and whole foods can provide balance to both physical and mental health.
The benefits of physical activity, like yoga, include muscular strength, flexibility, agility, and increased bone density. Yoga can improve immune function, stabilize insulin levels, maintain healthy weight and reduce stress hormones, like cortisol. Healthy exercise lowers anxiety and depression, and increases endorphins and opiates (feel good hormones).
Regular yoga practice can reduce inflammatory markers, lowering the risk and helping to manage the symptoms of many diseases. Research has shown benefits in cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, cancers, type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, depression & anxiety, osteoporosis, chronic lower back pain, and osteoarthritis pain.
Why should you focus on healthy sleep? Some of the benefits of healthy sleep include: increased energy, performance, alertness, memory, concentration, creativity, resilience, and overall vitality.
Common factors that can interfere with healthy sleep include: chronic pain, medication side effects, stimulating or sedating substances, muscular tension, lack of exercise, anxiety, and stress.
Yoga is effective exercise at reducing pain, alleviating tension, and lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.