When asked, many of us are not quite sure what “healthy” really means. Many doctors may tell you that if you do not have any symptoms you must be healthy. But, not so fast. A person can be free of symptoms and only minutes away from a deadly heart attack or diabetes or even cancer.
Healthy is not what happens at a doctor’s visit. It is what happens before and after the visits. Healthy happens when our bodies are in balance physically, mentally and spiritually.
I tell my patients one of the most important systems in a human is the immune system. When it’s powerful, as it is in most children, almost nothing can harm us. Even COVIDS!
To be healthy, there are three important areas to focus on:
- What we put in our mouths
- What we put in our minds
- What we put in our souls
Bad foods, negative stressful thoughts, and even negative beliefs can all tear down our immune systems and our health.
What we put in our mouths
Bad carbohydrates, bad sugars and fried foods may taste great, but they are the devil in disguise when it comes to our health.
Bad carbs are found in foods made with lots of processed white flour, starches and sugars. They are addictive and lead to obesity, which in turn leads to diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as a people, we African Americans tend to be far more obese than Hispanics, Asians and Caucasians. Don’t be fooled. The major cause of obesity is our diets.
Ever wander down the cereal aisle at the grocery store? No matter how much most of those boxes tell you they are healthy, I call that aisle the “valley of death.” It is a bundle of bad carbohydrates and massive amounts of health-killing sugars.
But there are good carbs, too. Those are carbs with good fiber in them. For those, eat: bananas, buckwheat, oats, sweet potatoes, quinoa, blueberries, apples and red kidney beans.
The immune system depends on lots of healthy foods to run properly, like lots of good veggies and some fruit. Daily, we need lots of vitamin C. My patients easily get 2,000 mg to 4,000 mg of vitamin C daily.
Did you know that oranges actually have very little vitamin C? Try red and green bell peppers or kiwi fruits for more vitamin C.
Vitamin D is also critical for the immune system. We get it mostly from sunlight on our skin, and as people of color we need more exposure than lighter-skinned people.
To supplement, take vitamin D daily, especially in winter months.
Other vital nutrients for our immune systems are vitamin E, zinc, magnesium and selenium. Daily.
And try to avoid fried foods, another death trap that afflicts far too many Black families. Most cooking oils are highly inflammatory inside us, and when heated break down into health-killing, cancer-causing acrylamides. And forget margarine. It’s another health killer.
If you must fry foods, use healthy organic butter or try avocado oil. It remains safe up to over 500 degrees.
And for physical health, don’t forget how important exercise is. We were created to move, not plop down in front of the TV. Find something physical you like to do, and just do it. Walk. Ride a bike. Go bowling. Go dancing. Whatever you chose to do, move your arms and legs and breathe!
What about mental health?
Research has clearly shown that how we think can change us internally. Whether we think positive or negative thoughts, our thoughts can change our body chemistry for the better or for the worse.
Choose wisely. Walking around all day with a grudge or loaded down with negative thoughts creates negative body chemistry, which leads to negative health.
And finally, spiritual health.
Neuroscientist Dr. Joseph Di Spenza, in his book “You Are the Placebo,” makes it clear that the research overwhelmingly shows that what we believe is as powerful as what we do. Whatever spiritually feeds your soul is as important to your overall positive health as what you eat and what you think. This is why meditation and prayer have been proven to be powerful positives for being healthy.
I was raised on a Navajo Indian reservation in Arizona. My dad was a teacher for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. We lived in government housing and had just enough to get by. But, we were always healthy.
My mom made sure we ate wholesome foods with proteins and lots of good vegetables. Processed or fast foods loaded with chemicals and bad carbohydrates were not on our menu at home.
In addition to a positive diet of whole foods, my brothers and I were physically active playing sports and always on the go. I was also taught by my parents that I was never a victim. The only person who could stand in the way of what I focused on was me. I was in control of my thoughts and my fate all the way through medical school and to this very day.
And as a family, like most American Black families back in the day, we went to church every Sunday. We lived our faith daily.
To this day, I attribute these wonderful gifts from my parents to being a healthy person. Physically. Mentally. And spiritually.
Remember that a person with health has a thousand wishes. But, a person without their health has only one. They want their health back.
It’s up to you to keep yourself and your family healthy. It’s your responsibility.
Dr. Alyse Hamilton is the founder and medical director of the Advanced Health and Vitality Center in Edina, Minnesota. Dr. Hamilton offers her patients positive results from her exceptional professional training and an extraordinary passion to provide safe, proven and effective treatments for adrenal insufficiency, thyroid disorders, chronic fatigue and pain, menopause, andropause (male menopause), fibromyalgia and age-related conditions.
She partners with her patients to guide them to true health from the inside out. Her goal is to ensure that her patients reclaim their energy, memory and vitality so that they can once again enjoy the things that are missing in their lives. Her practice also offers IV nutritional support with the Myer’s Cocktail and Glutathione, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and the Riordan protocol for high dose Vitamin C infusion therapy.