In an age when medical advances occur every day, it seems absurd that people keep getting sicker and sicker. Each year, 38 million people worldwide die from non-communicable diseases or chronic diseases, including cancer, heart ailments, respiratory diseases, and diabetes.

The sad reality is that most of those chronic diseases could have been prevented. By promoting healthier lifestyles, those grim numbers could have been reduced. Thus, keeping it simple and embracing holistic living is more important than ever.

What Is Holistic Health
Holistic health means looking at the individual as a whole – you cannot separate the body and mind, the environment, the inside and outside of the body. We practice in the field of Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, where one looks at health from a holistic perspective. It is true that when we follow the laws and boundaries of nature, we thrive. It includes the way we eat, move, sleep, and think.

Through Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, we can heal ourselves and our environment with the intelligence and power of nature. I believe in science and respect it, but I also think in common sense and nature, and the fact that aligning the human body and mind with nature plays a huge role in healing human wellness and happiness.

When you choose to lead a holistic life:

It can help:
Streamline your life
Identify the root cause of the problem
Provide a solution to problems at their source
A better quality of life.
Have sustained and balanced emotions.
Reduce levels of stress, depression, and anxiety.

Four Pillars of Holistic Health
Those of you who have been following my journey for the last seven years know that the essence of my practice is based on the four pillars of health and lifestyle. For others, I would like to introduce four pillars for improving quality of life and holistic health.

Through these four pillars, you can create the right external and internal environment for your body to function at its best and help you prevent, recover, and heal. No matter where you come from, there is no age limit. Here are my 4 pillars discussed in detail:

Deep Cellular Nutrition:
The human body consists of trillions of cells, each working harmoniously with the others every second of the day. But have we ever given a thought to these few questions: Do we feed our cells the right kind of food? Are we getting enough nutrients from the food we eat or from the supplements we consume? What is the bioavailability of the nutrients in our food?

Are the foods nourishing us at a cellular level?
Our digestive health depends on stomach acid or gastric acid. There is no way for minerals and proteins to be absorbed unless there is enough stomach acid. To attain cellular nutrition, we must:

Ensure that we chew our food well to aid in digestion.
Limit processed foods, adopt a rainbow diet
Make sure to include probiotics and prebiotics in our meals, like kimchi, yoghurt, etc.
The key to a healthier diet is to combine foods that work well together. Combine black pepper with curcumin supplements for better absorption, or combine spinach (iron-rich) and lemon (Vitamin C-rich). Our bodies are designed to stay healthy through food synergy.

Don’t forget to include ethically-sourced, safe-formulated, and responsibly-sourced foods in your daily diet.

Adequate Exercise
Movement is medicine only when done correctly. Whenever we talk about exercise in Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, we always emphasize the word ‘adequate.’ Despite the benefits of exercise, overtraining can cripple your immunity and strain your heart just as much as undertraining. Exercise boosts your blood circulation, strengthens your heart, and stimulates your lymphatic system. Yes, the human body can repair and heal itself. We can push it to a certain threshold, beyond which it will crash. By investing in this flawless system, it can perform better.

Yoga is an excellent way to start your day, and you can do it at low or high intensities according to your body’s abilities. Yoga also helps you relax through meditation and breathing.
Or, simply start your day with a brisk walk.
Get a badminton racket and spend some time together every day.
Make sure you do all of your household chores.
Invest in a fitness tracker and aim for 10,000 steps as your activity benchmark

Quality Sleep
Humans are the only species that sacrifice sleep to achieve more in life. Success cannot be at the expense of your health, even when you want to achieve more. Many lifestyle diseases today are caused by sleep deprivation, a silent pandemic. All healing occurs when you are entirely resting. There is no substitute for sleep. Among its many functions, it rejuvenates repairs, heals, protects, grows, balances, and so much more.

It is best to avoid stimulants at bedtimes, such as tea, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, tobacco, smoking, and social media.

Practice the 4-7-8 breath technique. Take a couple of deep breaths; hold them, and then exhale. Take four deep breaths, hold for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.
Add a few drops of essential oils to your pillows, such as lavender, frankincense, or vetiver. If you are having trouble falling asleep, these oils can help. It is also possible to use a sleeping mist containing these essential oils.
You can promote better sleep by drinking a cup of Chamomile or Lavender tea.
Invest in an eye mask that creates darkness or makes the room pitch black.

Emotional Detox
It would be best if you did not ignore emotional detox, which is one of the most important pillars of your lifestyle but is often overlooked. Diseases, sicknesses, and emotions are interconnected. In today’s science, negative emotions are linked to hormonal imbalance, low immunity, hair and skin problems, autoimmunity, thyroid problems, diabetes, and cancer, among other problems. Harbouring deep-seated anger can be detrimental to your health, but forgiveness can help you recover. Your emotions can influence your choices and behaviours. Therefore, addressing and navigating them compassionately is crucial.

Acceptance and letting go are the two solutions to dealing with stress in your life. Put all the things stressing you out in your life on paper right now. Writing down your thoughts will allow you to control some of them while others are beyond your control. Powerful tools like “acceptance and letting go” can help when this happens. Though they are easy words to say, practicing them is extremely difficult due to our insecurities and fears.

The other best way to de-stress remains by talking to your loved ones about it. Sharing with someone always helps you lighten that weight and many times provides you with the best solution too.

Some of the practices include yoga, meditation, chanting, and sitting down.

In the evening, turn on the salt lamp, dim the light, and listen to your favourite music – This helps me relax after a tiring stressful day.

When it comes to your overall quality of life, ensure you choose products and ingredients that are responsibly sourced, organic, natural, and safe and clean labelled.

Let me reiterate that each of us is unique and different in our way. There is only one Whitney Houston and one Steve Jobs. Trying to be like them won’t work. If you want to emulate them, you can. Their qualities can be incorporated into your life, but your path is yours. Don’t look at anything or anything that’s over and above you because they may pull you down and cause stress. Stay on your path, and move forward. Make these four lifestyle pillars a part of your lifestyle and see how it changes your life for the better.

– Luke Coutinho is a Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle specialist.

The advice offered is intended for informational purposes only and the opinions in this column are solely those of the author. If you have specific concerns, please consult with your physician.