I’d like to introduce you all to Ben Stanford, who is guest writing this post. A massage therapist since 2003, Ben practices at Tall Tree Integrative Health located in Victoria, BC. His scope of interest includes yoga, hot stone therapy, acupressure, physiotherapy, thai massage, Reiki, applied kinesiology, meditation, and of course all things relating to good health. We’ll hopefully hear from Ben again in the next few months so please write in to tell us what you’d like to learn from him!
What is Natural Health Anyway?
Natural health is a term thrown around quite a bit these days to describe all kinds of products, treatments, therapies, and/or lifestyle choices.
Unfortunately there’s both a lot of skepticism – and a lot of false advertising – when it comes to natural health practices and products.
Different schools have different core definitions of natural health, but they all tend to agree on the following six points:
- First and Foremost: Everything From Nature
It’s right there in the name: natural health refers to products and practices that are natural, a.k.a found in nature.
You’ll see this as a recurring theme throughout the next six points – everything put in and done with the human body under the banner of natural health must be somehow naturally occurring in the world.
Conventional medicine has a huge and important role in well-being in our society, but in the past it’s tended to focus more on treatment of symptoms than on preventing disease and other conditions in the first place.
Natural health looks at the whole lifestyle of the individual right from the get go and prescribes a mix of healthy diet, adequate exercise or physical activity, herbal supplements, and holistic therapies to keep the body in great shape. This strengthens the immune system, preventing disease and illness down the road.
Many of our therapies at Tall Tree Integrated Health are preventative in nature – things like regular massage therapy and acupuncture can do wonders for your muscular, nervous, and immune systems before anything goes wrong.
- Organic Whole Foods
Heavily processed foods can wreak havoc on the body because of high sugar content and the presence of harmful chemicals. Natural health means subscribing to a diet of whole foods, with a focus on fruits and vegetables in particular.
Natural health practices also call for organic whole foods as pesticides used on non-organic foods can be full of toxins that are harmful to the human body.
If you’re new to natural health and have an interest in eating healthier, Victoria has some wonderful natural food markets with highly educated staff. Try Planet Organic, Ingredients, or Whole Foods, for instance.
- Natural Supplementation
In the natural health world supplementation is done with – you guessed it! – naturally occurring substances. Think vitamins, herbs, and even spices.
Editor’s Note: I will stress here that not all naturally occurring substances are good for you (believing that everything natural is good irrespective of what it might be is called a natural fallacy – be discerning) and what is good for one person may not be what you need so please take advice as Ben recommends before dosing yourself with something new! ~ Gabrielle
Whether in powder, tincture, capsule, or tea form, natural supplements offer your your diet a little extra boost, and can have other healing qualities. What they don’t do is contain any chemicals or processed ingredients.
You can get natural supplements over the counter, and there’s some great information out there about what different plants can provide the human body. If you’re dealing with a specific issue and want to try natural supplementation, talking to a naturopathic doctor is probably the best avenue to pursue.
- Physical Exercise
There’s no getting away from it – physical exercise is absolutely essential to your well-being.
This is one area where natural health doesn’t vary too much from conventional medicine – everyone agrees that 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (activities that raise your heart rate and get you sweating) at least 3 times a week is the bare minimum you need to be – and stay – healthy.
- Stress Management
Stress is a killer, plain and simple.
An inordinate amount of the diseases and health concerns we face in our modern society can be traced back to the amount of stress – from our busy lives, toxins in the our food and products, and our constant attachment to technology – we face on any given day.
You’ll often find things like meditation, yoga, and breathwork as part of a natural health regimen or treatment plan. Simply put, if you aren’t addressing stress levels, you’re missing a big piece of the natural health picture.
So there you have it – perhaps not quite as “woo-woo” or mystical as you might have expected, natural health is really just a philosophy that looks at the whole human, stresses preventative action, and recommends that everything you put in your body come for the natural world.
Sounds pretty, um, natural, doesn’t it?