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Healthy Lifestyle


Lifestyle is at least as important to our health as internal hygiene and nutrition. We all know the importance of exercise - some people get sufficient exercise in the course of their daily jobs, but most of us with a more sedentary lifestyle need to incorporate additional exercise in order to maintain a healthy body.

Adequate rest and sleep are also crucial factors. We may be able to go for short periods of time with minimal sleep, but in the long run, we simply cannot sustain our health on a diet of inadequate or irregular sleep habits.

The negative effects of smoking on our health have received so much attention during the past decade that there is no need to dwell on these here. It is clear by now that the detrimental effects of smoking are caused not just from the tobacco, but also from a long litany of chemicals that are added to cigarettes which drug the body, creating addition. Simply stated, smoking and good health are incompatible.

Perhaps less obvious are the effects of our thoughts and emotions on our health. Stress, anger, resentment and frustration all interfere with the healthy functioning of our body's organs and systems. On the other hand, love, joy, happiness and creative expression all have a positive impact our health and well-being. Let's explore these subjects in more detail.

Exercise

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Some of the reasons why exercise is important are obvious; others less so. Following are some are some of the more important considerations:

  • Muscle Tone

    Maintaining muscle tone and a physically attractive body is undoubtedly the most important motivator for most people when it comes to exercise. We know that muscles tend to atrophy if they are not regularly used. So for most of us, maintaining our muscles in good working condition and our body in good physical appearance is an important part of a healthy self-image.

  • Skeletal Mobility

    The joints in our skeletal form need movement in order to maintain a full range of flexibility. The exercising we do to maintain muscle tone normally takes care of this need without special attention. However, certain types of stretching routines, such as yoga, can be very beneficial in maintaining an agile body.

  • Aerobic Exercises

    Aerobic exercise uses large muscle groups in a rhythmic and continuous manner to elevate our heart rate and breathing for a sustained period of time. This can be in a simple form such as walking, jogging or swimming; or it can take a more rigorous form such as step, spin or dance routines found in many workout programs. Accelerated breathing that accompanies aerobic exercise brings more oxygen into the bloodstream. And the increased heart rate maximizes the flow of blood to all parts of the body.

  • Perspiration/Detoxification

    The skin has an important role in eliminating toxins from the body through the sweat glands. So any exercise that causes a person to break into a sweat can be helpful in this regard. As the body generally becomes detoxified through the cleansing processes discussed earlier, and through an improved diet, the need for elimination of waste products through the sweat glands becomes less imperative, but still important.

  • Lymphatic System

    The lymphatic system, which drains toxic and noxious substances from the connective tissues of the organs and muscles, depends on the daily movement of all the parts of the body to function properly. Unlike the blood, which has a heart to circulate it around the body, the lymph fluid has no such direct pumping device. The lymphatic system relies heavily on our breathing. When the muscle responsible for the breathing action of the lungs (diaphragm) extends into the abdomen, it exerts great pressure on the intestinal lymph vessels, thereby squeezing their contents. This forces the lymph to move through the lymph ducts. Thus, each inhalation and exhalation acts as an indirect pump for the lymphatic system. Shallow breathing that accompanies a sedentary lifestyle has a detrimental effect on proper lymph drainage. Exercise, however, can greatly improve lymphatic functions, thereby preventing a multitudes of diseases.

  • Cerebrospinal Fluid System

    The cerebrospinal fluid circulates within the spinal column and the space between the inside of the skull and the surface of the brain. It is a primary conductor for life energies, or "chi", within the body. Like the lymphatic system, the cerebrospinal fluid system depends on the movement of the body, particularly deep breathing, to circulate its fluid.

  • Emotional Clearing

    Emotions that cause tension, such as anger, fear or frustration, can become lodged in the muscular structure of the body. Regular physical exercise is an important aid to clearing these energies from the body before they create health problems. Massage also can be of great benefit in this regard.

  • Body-Mind-Spirit Integration

    Some forms of exercise from Eastern traditions, such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong, are designed to incorporate movement, breathing and mental focus in a way that promotes harmonious integration of body, mind and spirit. Ideally, they are done in a natural setting that can deepen our connection with the world of nature that surrounds us. But even if done in an indoor environment, they can provide needed exercise for our body in a way that nurtures all aspects of our beingness.

When and How Much Exercise?

The optimum type and amount of exercise naturally varies according to age, body type, and a variety of other factors. A 70 year old person does not need the same type or amount of exercise as a 20 year old.

It is best not to exercise at more than 50% of your capacity, whatever that means to you. The purpose of exercising is not to prove to others how capable you are, but to derive personal benefit and satisfaction from it. If you are able to run for 30 minutes before you are tired, then make the choice to run only for 15 minutes. Getting tired during exercising defeats the very purpose of exercise. Feeling refreshed, revitalized and energetic afterwards indicates that the workout has been successful. In due time, your capacity for exercise will naturally increase on its own.

Stop exercising when you feel the need to breathe through the mouth. Once you are forced to breathe through the mouth, rather than through the nose, you have gone beyond the 50% threshold of your capacity for exercise at that time. This is a sign that your body has moved into the adrenaline-breathing mode, which uses up your basic energy reserves and depletes cellular oxygen. You have reached your limit when you feel your heart pounding excessively, when you begin to sweat profusely, or when your body shakes. In that case it is good to finish off with a short period of walking and breathing normally. The basic rule is to always breathe through the nose and not through the mouth, and to exercise to the point of perspiration once a day.

Additionally, it is best to exercise during daylight hours. Vigorous exercise in the evening hours is not healthy because the body needs to slow down to prepare itself for a restful and rejuvenating sleep. Never exercise just before or after a meal, as this interferes with the digestive process, and can cause indigestion. However, walking leisurely for 15 minutes after meals works as a good digestive aid. Always drink water before and after exercising to prevent the blood from thickening and the cells from becoming dehydrated.

Daily Biological Cycles

The biological processes within our bodies are synchronized to the daily planetary cycles of light and darkness. By understanding the nature of these cycles, and adjusting our daily routines accordingly, we can better support our body's natural biological functions. The ancient science of Ayurveda divides the daily cycles into six 4-hour segments. Even though there are variations in the ratio of light to darkness as the Earth moves through its annual cycle around the Sun, the timing of the body's internal activities remains relatively consistent throughout the year.

6:00 AM to 10:00 AM

The first cycle begins with the "birth" of a new day. Let's assume that sunrise occurs at 6 am. About an hour before sunrise nature starts to awaken, becoming increasingly active as the sun rises to higher positions. Likewise, during this first segment of the day, your body is still a bit slow, but gradually gathers strength and stamina.

At around 6 am the kidney glands secrete the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline to get your body going, similar to a battery starting an engine. This is also the time when the sex hormones in the body reach their peak levels. And, provided your eyes are open to see the natural light of the day, the brain increases its production of the powerful hormone serotonin, which helps you start your day on a positive note.

10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

By 10 am, the energy of the sun begins to increase, reaching its peak levels by about noon. During this 2-hour period, we are at our most alert and cognitive best. At noontime, the digestive energies reach their peak efficiency, and the digestive juices (bile, hydrochloric acid, enzymes, etc.) are profuse and concentrated. For this reason, it is best to eat your main meal of the day between 12 pm and 1 pm. Provided the food you eat is wholesome and nourishing, the digestive process will provide you with the energy and vitality you need during the remainder of the day.

2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

During this period, digestion of the noon meal continues. This segment of the day is conducive to efficient mental performance due to increased nerve cell activity. This makes it a good time to absorb and retain information. Studies conducted at the University of Wales showed that students who had afternoon or early-evening classes performed better in exams than those who had morning classes.

If there have been ongoing problems of poor intestinal absorption and unbalanced metabolism, they would likely become more pronounced at this time. Such an imbalance may manifest as increased irritability, nervousness and cravings for sugary foods or other stimulants such as tea, coffee, soft drinks, chocolate or cigarettes. Most alcoholics will start looking for their first drink during the latter part of this period.

6:00 PM to 10:00 PM

As the energies from the sun begin to fade, the physiological activities of the body such as digestion and metabolism begin to slow down. Those who are in tune with their body cycles usually feel inclined to take it easy with the arrival of the evening hours. For these reasons, it is best to eat only a light dinner, preferably at around 6 pm. This gives your body enough time to digest your food before bedtime. Research has found that the most important digestive enzymes are no longer produced after 8 pm. Eating a meal later in the evening (after 7 pm) will, therefore, not be properly digested and will decompose while it is still in the stomach.

Most people begin to feel sleepy or drowsy between 9 pm and 10 pm. This sleepiness or drowsiness results from the secretion of a natural tranquillizer that the brain makes when it wants you to go to sleep. According to researchers from Harvard Medical School, most of the brain cells are "turned off" during sleep by some chemical signal sent out by a group of cells located in the hypothalamus, which is considered to be the brain's brain. This "turning off the lights" assists us in going to sleep.

10:00 PM to 2:00 AM

This is a crucial period of time during which most of the body's energy is used for cleansing, rebuilding and rejuvenating the body. The liver receives most of the energy and conducts an astonishing range of activities. These include the supply of vital nutrients to all parts of the body, breaking down of noxious substances and keeping the blood clean. In addition, the liver cells produce bile at this time, which is needed to digest food, particularly fats, during the following day. Another important function of the liver during this time is to synthesize proteins, which serve as the main building blocks of cells, hormones and blood constituents.

Why Proper Sleep is So Important for You!

The liver requires all the energy it can get to fulfill these and many other responsibilities. This can only happen sufficiently, though, if you sleep during this time period. If you use up the nighttime energy for eating or for mental and physical activities, the liver is left with too little energy to do its extremely vital work. The kidneys also need energy during this time period to filter the blood plasma, and keep the body fluids balanced and blood pressure normal.

Although the brain makes up merely 2% of our body mass, it normally contains more than 25% of the body's entire blood supply. However, during this phase of the night, most of the blood located at the back of the brain moves into the liver for purification. If you are mentally or physically active at this time, the liver does not receive enough blood to work with, so it cannot cleanse the blood sufficiently. This results in the accumulation of toxic material in the blood stream. If toxins keep circulating in the blood, they will settle in the interstitial fluid (connective tissues) of organs and systems, thereby raising acidity and damaging them, including the liver itself. High blood toxicity can lead to secretions of stress hormones, brain fog, and injured capillaries, arteries and heart muscles. Most heart disease is the result of a poorly performing liver that is unable to remove all toxic, noxious substances from the blood on a daily basis. If we do not give the liver the energy it needs to conduct the most basic physiological activities, we sow the seeds of illness throughout the body.

Respiration is an important part of the cleansing and rejuvenation process, with a significant percentage of the body's waste materials being eliminated through the lungs. This underscores the importance of sleeping in a room with ample ventilation.

Sleep can be divided into two main parts - before-midnight and after-midnight. For adults, the most important processes of purification and renewal occur during the two hours of sleep before midnight. This period involves deep sleep, often referred to as "beauty sleep." It typically lasts for about an hour, from 11 pm to midnight. During this period, you enter a dreamless state of sleep where oxygen consumption in the body drops considerably. This results in profound physical rest and relaxation. The benefit to your body of this single hour of deep sleep is approximately equivalent to that derived during the three hours following midnight, when the oxygen consumption rises again.

Growth factors, commonly known as growth hormones, are secreted profusely during the hour of deep sleep. These powerful hormones are responsible for cellular growth, repair and rejuvenation. People age faster if they don't produce enough growth hormones. The latest "fashion" in the beauty market is to consume synthetic growth hormones, which create remarkable rejuvenation results, but which also can have devastating side effects, including heart disease and cancer. On the other hand, if the body makes natural growth hormones at the right time and in the correct amounts, as happens during deep sleep, they can help keep the body vital and youthful.

Deep sleep virtually never occurs after midnight and it usually comes only if you go to sleep at least two hours before midnight. If you routinely miss out on deep sleep, your body and mind tend to become overtired. This triggers abnormal stress responses that initiate secretions of stress hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol or cholesterol (yes, cholesterol is a stress hormone that rises with stress!). Once the body's energy reserves have been depleted, chronic fatigue results. Fatigue can be considered a major contributing factor in today's health problems.

Doctors at the University of California at San Diego have found that losing a few hours of sleep not only makes you feel tired during the following day, but also can affect the immune system, possibly impairing the body's ability to fight infection. Since immunity diminishes with tiredness, your body is unable to defend itself against bacteria, microbes and viruses, and cannot cope with the build-up of harmful substances in the body.

2:00 AM to 6:00 AM

The primary focus of the body during this segment of the daily cycle is on moving the body's waste products from the liver, cells, intestines and other areas of the body towards the organs and systems of detoxification and elimination. The lymphatic system neutralizes harmful microbes, metabolic wastes, cellular debris, worn out cells and cells damaged by disease. The rectum forms fecal matter, which triggers a bowel movement, and the kidneys pass urine to the bladder, which induces urination. The skin also receives waste products that begin to surface at this time; hence, the importance of washing or showering in the morning.

To be able to fully support efficient waste removal, the body needs to be awake and in a vertical position. Therefore, it is preferable to awaken and be out of bed slightly before sunrise. Young children and early teenagers have a slightly different melatonin cycle, and may require an extra hour of sleep in the evening and again in the morning.

Summary

Structuring our daily lives in a way that honors our body's natural cycles is one of the most important things we can do to enhance our health and well-being. There are inevitably situations that arise in life that necessitate making exceptions to our normal daily cycle. But the more consistently we maintain a regular pattern of living, the better we are able to support our body's natural processes of health and regeneration.

Our Body's Response to Stress

Stress is one of the greatest deterrents to health and well-being. Virtually all of us experience stress in our life from time to time, and our bodies are designed to respond accordingly. For example, if we encounter physical danger, the "fight or flight" stress responses within our body are designed to help us protect ourselves from that danger. So long as experiences of this nature are infrequent, our body is generally able to restore its normal equilibrium without any significant long-term effect on our health.

The more damaging situations are those to which we are exposed on a recurring basis, such as a stressful job, an inharmonious relationship or constant worries about finances. Even watching the daily television news programs tend to create levels of stress within us as we react emotionally to situations that seem tragic or unjust.

Growth or Protection

In his book, The Biology of Belief, Dr. Bruce Lipton discusses the concept of "growth or protection". Essentially this concept illustrates how the physiological processes within our body are dramatically affected by fear and stress.

The growth center of our body is the "visceral" area, which includes the digestive system, and organs such as the lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys - all of the organs that play a key role in the sustenance and regeneration of our body. The protection aspect of our body involves two facets: internal protection and external protection. The primary system with responsibility for internal protection is the immune system. Our external protection involves the somatic system, such as our arms and legs that enable us to respond to a "fight or flight" situation.

Under normal circumstances, if our life situation is reasonably peaceful and we feel a sense of security, our body will be in a state of growth most of the time. However, if we are suddenly confronted with a dangerous situation, such as an earthquake, our body immediately shifts to a state of protection. This shift is initiated by our nervous system, working through our endocrine glands.

When our body shifts from a state of growth to a state of protection, we are impacted in three primary ways:

  • The flow of blood is constricted in our visceral area, and re-directed to our somatic system (arms, legs, etc.). Consequently, the functioning of our life-sustaining systems, such as our digestive system, is throttled back to a minimum.
  • Since the threat in the example of an earthquake is an external threat, rather than an internal threat, the immune system is essentially put on temporary hold in order to conserve energy and make it available for somatic activity. This is analogous to the situation involving a modern commercial airplane - just prior to heading down the runway for takeoff, the pilot turns off auxiliary systems such as the air conditioner, so that all of the thrust of the engines is available to support lift-off.
  • The blood flow in the brain is re-directed from the forebrain, where our rational thinking takes place, to the hindbrain, which involves our reflex responses. Since it is the frontal lobes of the forebrain that support rational thinking, when we shift into a state of protection, our ability to think logically is impaired. We frequently hear stories of experienced hikers that become lost in bad weather. If fear and panic overtake a hiker, they often do not make rational survival decisions. For example, they may continue to hike aimlessly as fast as they can to the point of exhaustion, rather than using their energy to build a shelter in which to wait out the storm.
If our body remains in a state of protection for a relatively short period of time, little damage is done to our internal growth-related processes. However, if we are regularly dealing with stressful situations, the impact on our health can be very significant. For example, we know that under conditions of stress or turmoil, we frequently suffer from indigestion. We also know that during periods of stress, we are more likely to come down with a cold, or experience other aches and pains within our body.

Conclusion

Living a life of health and vitality is our natural birthright. It has been our intent to provide information about how each of us can work with the natural processes of our body to cleanse the accumulated residues from our various organs and systems, and to make wise choices about the foods we eat. We have also provided examples of how our health is impacted by our thoughts, emotions and lifestyle.

Although our focus has been on working with the natural processes of our bodies, we certainly do not want to imply that conventional Western medicine is of no value. It is difficult to imagine what our world would be like without emergency rooms to deal with trauma such as physical injuries.

Our hope is that you will be inspired to learn more about how your body functions so that you will be able to make enlightened decisions related to your health and well-being. We invite you to take your health into your hands and feel empowered by the wealth of life-nurturing choices at your fingertips.

Recommended Resources

The information in this module has drawn heavily on books and teachings of Andreas Moritz, who is world renown in the field of alternative health. We would especially recommend his following books, all of which are available through his website: www.ener-chi.com.

  • Timeless Secrets of Health & Rejuvenation (This is his most comprehensive book on alternative health.)
  • The Amazing Liver & Gallbladder Flush
  • Cancer is Not a Disease! . . It's a Survival Mechanism
  • Heart Disease No More!
  • Ending the AIDS Myth
  • Diabetes No More!
  • Feel Great, Lose Weight
  • Heal Yourself with Sunlight
  • Simple Steps to Total health
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