Self-Care Advisor

A Maintenance Manual for the Body

January. New beginnings. Time to let bygones be bygones. Time for maintenance and prep for the new year.

One of the keys to taking care of oneself well is regular maintenance. Just like a car that gets its oil changed every few thousand miles will outlive one that only gets new oil every few years, bodies and minds that are intelligently maintained will perform longer with fewer and less expensive trips to the garage.

Now cars only need things like air filters, fresh oil and the like. Human bodies are much more complex ... which is a two-edged sword. One the one hand there’s a wide range of choices one has when looking to upgrade one’s self-maintenance routine. And on the other ... it can sometimes seem like the work is never done, that it’s impossible to cover all possible bases.

Don’t be discouraged. A consistent but steady series of baby steps generally gets one further than giant leaps ... most of us can’t really sustain drastic changes, however well-intentioned. But the good news is that the more baby steps one takes the better one feels. The mind clears. The spirit finds new peace. And we age more slowly.

On one level good self-maintenance is largely (but not exclusively) about managing stress. That’s because stress shuts down the natural processes the body uses to refresh its worn out cells and tissues. And here I’ll put in a little plug for acupuncture ... it’s one of the most rapid, effective ways to kill stress and the physical and emotional pain that stress creates. One reason I emphasize self-care so much is that 28 years of acupuncture practice has proved to me that folks progress more rapidly and maintain their results much better when regular care is combined with an intelligent self-care routine.

So here’s your self-care maintenance menu. Over the next few months we’ll take a more detailed look at each one of these approaches. If you’d like to get a jump on the discussion, you can always go to the Stresscare Toolkit section of my Natural Stresscare website.

Exercise. This is what most folks think of when they want to improve their health. But it’s only one step (albeit a crucial one.)

Food Awareness. Modern diets are very different than ancient diets. Things like salt and sugar used to be rare and expensive; our bodies are designed to crave them because even though they were rare for most of human history our bodies still needed small quantities of each to work. Nowadays these two are cheap and ubiquitous. Overindulgence can cause trouble. And almost all of us overindulge because food manufacturers and restaurant cooks have learned that once we're hooked, we'll always keep coming back for more.

Basic Micronutrients. We grow our food in the same soil year after year ... and dam up our rivers so our farms aren’t flooded regularly. That means the mineral content goes down every harvest. Other nutrients are destroyed in processing and cooking. We need to replace them ... and multi-vitamin formulas don't do the job.

Detoxification. I touched on this briefly in the last newsletter. There's lots of different ways to go, from 5-day juice fasts to supplements and teas to proprietary formulas. But detoxing can be inherently weakening, at least in the short run. And it's very easy to overload the body's elimination pathways. Proceed with caution.

Stress Management. As I mentioned above, stress makes us old before our time. It’s crucial to do something about it.

Advanced Micronutrients. In the last 25 years or so researchers have identified dozens of nutrients which, in small quantities, can do as much or more than pharmaceuticals to heal or slow the progression of many chronic diseases. As a bonus, working this way avoids the side effects so common with pharmaceuticals in that micronutrients work by leveraging the body’s own natural biochemistry.

Hands-on Work. There’s nothing like being taken care of by an expert pair of healing hands. 'Nough said ... for now.