If you've spent the last five months following my Health Foundation columns, you've acquired an overview of five lifestyle choices that can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on your health.
The most important message I'd like people to take away from these blogs is the importance of a multi-faceted approach to health. Health is not just about organic food, or exercise or sleep. It's not about a super food or supplement that can change your life. Health is a series of small, consistent choices working in tandem with each other. It's important to put health information into a contextual framework and constantly reassess how relevant, correct, or important new information is.
Often, people are willing to revamp their diet in an extreme way- no gluten, no dairy, only organic, perhaps even vegan or vegetarian. It takes money, time, and tenacity to stick to this type of diet. I actively endorse this type of diet in many cases, but not all. For some people, this type of diet is easy and that is great. But for others, they sacrifice optimal mental health as they stress about their food choices. Sometimes they limit food choices to a few "green light" foods, which severely restricts their nutrient intake or perhaps, their diet becomes overly dependent on a certain food. For example, brown rice is great, but if you consume too much, you can have increased arsenic levels in your system. (Arsenic is a byproduct of rice production, not a component of the rice itself.) Or what about legumes? These are the healthy peoples' mascot, right? Beans are great- but for people suffering from autoimmune disorders, they could cause an inflammatory affect and should be avoided.
Health information needs context to qualify it. Often, health isn't about the best choice, it's about the better choice. If I decide I will only eat what is best for me, I probably won't eat a lot or a get a variety of foods in my diet. How do you define best? If it is organic, is it enough to eat organic fruits and veggies or do you need a place that also has confirmation of soil testing? What standards are you using for the soil testing? Is it better to eat a certified organic granola bar with organic sugar or a non-organic apple? Keeping up-to-date with the most relevant scientific knowledge can be stressful in and of itself. Fake-science (shaky science based on poorly designed studies, rumors, or isolated observations and generalizations), can be the most stressful. The effects of stress from worrying about a healthy diet can undermine every organic choice one makes.
Being healthy shouldn't be stressful, cause shalom bayit problems, make your children resentful, or overstrain your budget. By following the five health foundations outlined in the previous five months, you can set up a healthy lifestyle. Do it at a pace that works for you and your family, do it with happiness, and trust Hashem that if you make the effort, those efforts will lead you in the right direction. After you have set up a solid foundation, you can build on it by adding in things like organic fruits and vegetables and doing the homework I outline here. Good luck and help spread the healthy message by sharing your favorite blogs from my site with your friends and family.