How do we Stay Healthy? That’s still my model and message after 45 years of Integrative Family Medicine at my clinic, Preventive Medical Center of Marin, in San Rafael, California.
One of my basic messages is that health and illness begin at the cellular level. When our cells are healthy, we tend have energy and vitality. So, what keeps our cells and tissues healthy? Here’s where we discuss deficiency and toxicity.
First, our cells require many nutrients from our food and supplements to function optimally—these nutrients include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients, all from the many natural foods we consume. This requires a wholesome and balanced diet along with good digestion and assimilation. We are what we assimilate!! If we are deficient in essential nutrients, then we can initiate dysfunction and the disease process.
Toxicity is the other side of the imbalance. There are thousands of chemicals that are now used in our world, most developed in the past 50 years. Our primary toxins are the chemicals and metals (like lead and mercury) that get into our air, water, and food, or that we put on our body and hair.
When our cells and body do not get the nutrients needed or we experience too many toxins that interfere with enzymes and functions, we begin the path towards symptoms and diseases. Healing happens for most of us when we consume a nourishing and balanced diet and we avoid and eliminate as many of the toxins we inhale and ingest as possible.
Let’s focus here on air, as we are breathing many times a minute and exposures to any irritants or toxins get into our lungs, blood, cells and tissues. WE NEED TO BREATHE CLEAN AIR! For most of us, indoor air is much more of a concern that outdoors unless there’s bad smog, fires, and other increased pollution. Molds and allergens affect some people, even severely, so we may all check our homes for mold growth and have that eradicated; and be aware if we are allergic or reactive to anything. Also, it’s wise to minimize the chemical products we use in our home—from dishwashing and laundry products to household cleaners and more. Also, any new synthetic home furnishings like bedding, carpeting and furniture can outgas chemicals for years. And that new car smell comes from the persistent outgassing of synthetic chemicals.
There is a very long list of indoor chemicals and pollutants, and I break that down more completely in my book, Staying Healthy with Nutrition, in chapter 11 entitled The Environmental Aspects of Nutrition. I encourage all of my patients to have a home air purifier and to use it regularly in the house and in their bedroom, especially for anyone with allergies. I have several air filters/purifiers in my clinic, including the exceptional Intellipure that we have in our main reception area. Since we are an allergy testing clinic as well, this is important and helpful to protect our patients and staff.
Besides keeping our air clean, most of us can benefit from some detoxification activities, wherein we take a break from many of our habitual substances and unhealthy foods. For example, we can take a 2 to 3-week break from wheat/gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, fried foods and red meats along with any packaged, manufactured products that contain chemicals. We can also focus on consuming mainly organic foods. I have been teaching this detox process for 40+ years and it is the focus of my book, The Detox Diet. I see this process helps relieve so much illness and improves people’s health and vitality.
Overall, breathing good, clean air and drinking good, clean water are important steps for keeping us healthy. And in this day and age, with unpredictable weather events and fires, it’s wise for all of us to have air filtration available in our homes and offices.
Dr. Elson Haas