So why should I follow these steps, you ask?
There are specific reasons for each of the “steps” in the Steps To Optimum Health! These address every system in the body and need to be applied every day for optimal health.
Step One: Follow The Right Diet
Just to be clear, the word for “diet” in the original Greek, means How We Live. Following the right diet is the most important thing you can do for your health. If your diet is one that lacks nutrients or is filled with Antinutrients your health will suffer. That’s plain and simple! A diet that is loaded with grains, sugar, commercial dairy, chemicals from processed foods, void of fermented foods, and filled with antinutrients that take away from what you ingest will leave you acidic and short of the nutrients your body needs to heal and maintain optimal health. Many differ on what the right diet is but the best is one with whole organic foods. While there are many studies showing a vegan diet not to be the healthiest, some claim it is for them. Though many following a vegan diet have found their health compromised, eating meat isn’t for everyone by choice. But there are studies that have proven animal fats give certain benefits not found in a strictly plant-based diet. What is important is you eat for what is right for your body. Some may do best with a Paleo diet while others require a stricter approach such as AIP (autoimmune paleo) to start with as they heal the gut and conditions; some may need a low FODMAP diet; some prefer keto; or GAPS, SCD, etc. My personal opinion and choice is a Paleo diet while maintaining ketosis. I believe ketosis is the state we were designed to function best in and is what works best for healing. So to me, this means, organic, pasture-raised meats and wild game, wild-caught fish, organic vegetables, and some organic fruits with lots of healthy fats (any but trans-fats). I also include the seeds and oils used in Seed Cycling (covered later). This much is clear, if you aren’t on the right diet, your health will suffer.
Step Two: Digestion, Probiotics, Fermented Foods, and Immune Support
Since approximately 70% of our immune system lies in our gut, this is a place we need to put special attention on. If our gut microbiome is not in optimal balance with more good bacteria than bad, much of what we eat, despite how good our diet may be, the majority of the nutrients we take in will never make it to their destination.
Most understand that digestion begins at the mouth and it’s important to chew, chew, chew your food thoroughly which most people don’t do enough. But many don’t understand much about the stomach. There needs to be both a sufficient amount and level (pH) of acid in the stomach prior to food entering to prevent it from fermenting on the way to the small intestine. If fermentation takes place, instead of being assimilated fully in the small intestine, much of it continues on its journey in a fermented state creating damage to the gut and throughout the bowels and leads to conditions such as IBS/IBD, Crohn’s, etc. and in my opinion, colon cancer. When food ferments on its way to the small intestine, it also causes more acid to be produced in the stomach to correct the problem but most often the food is no longer present so just the acid remains leading to inflammation in the upper stomach as it gets churned up into the gullet, irritating the esophageal tissue leading to Acid Reflux and G.E.R.D.
The next phase of digestion is just as important and the need for the proper ratio of bacteria in the gut to be present and in sufficient amounts to properly continue digestion is key. This is where Probiotics come in and should be taken daily as well as incorporating lots of probiotic-rich fermented foods. Your gut makes up the majority of your immune system and the importance of maintaining optimal gut health cannot be stressed enough as all disease begins in the gut from improperly balanced flora which leads to inflammation.
In order to assure that both the right amount and level of acid is present, some may need for a short time to use one or more of several options that are available. The most common method is to use 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of either Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon or Lime Juice to 1 ounce (30 ml) of filtered water 20 minutes prior to eating. Two ounces of plain Kombucha is another option which provides not only the right amount and level of acid for the stomach but some of the probiotics that aid the small intestine for proper digestion there. Some with histamine issues as well as those concerned about mineral loss may need to use some alternatives, digestive bitters being one. Some may also find Betaine HCL and/or digestive enzymes necessary for a short time.
We need to maintain the billions to trillions of beneficial bacteria in our gut for proper digestion. If the gut becomes impaired from infection, stress, medications, especially antibiotics, the need for a balanced gut flora is even more essential. It can take up to two years to repair the damage from antibiotics. So it is critical to keep our microbiome in optimal health and this calls for as many different cultures of beneficial bacteria as possible while avoiding triggers like gluten, sugar, commercial dairy. This makes Probiotics valuable medicine as well as probiotic-rich foods. Further, there should be a regular, daily intake of as many probiotic-rich foods as we can consume. Sauerkraut, Crocked Pickles, Water Kefir and Coconut Water Kefir are excellent choices. Kimchi is another but those just starting to heal or those who know they have sensitivities to nightshades should avoid Kimchi altogether. Once the damaged gut is healed and the immune system is up to par, some may benefit from the use of “raw”, “organic”, “grass-fed (pasture-raised)” yogurt and Kefir from A2/A2 cows, but these should not be consumed until one has healed and in optimal health. These are also best made at home from heavy cream. Although most in optimal health may have no reaction, some may still find it creates inflammation and those folks should avoid even raw, grass-fed cultured dairy. [See Natural and Produced Probiotics and Fermented Foods]
Step Three: Drinking Water and Hydrating The Body
It’s important to stay hydrated. You have heard it said we should drink plenty of water. Most have no real idea of what that means. It a very common phrase but how much water is “plenty”? The first step of each day should start with water. You should drink a large glass of water (15 to 16 oz min.) to start your day. This has a greater effect when consumed on an empty stomach and should NOT be cold. Room-temperature is best! This can be counted as your first glass of water for the day and may be a good time to include any water-soluble vitamin or mineral supplements taken daily, like vitamin C and magnesium.
If you are on your circadian rhythm, between 5 AM and 7 AM is the best time for the first glass of water. This is when the Large Intestine (and colon) awakens and the bowels begin moving. [See Caring For Your Body Around The Clock]. One of the best things you can do for your body at this time is to drink about a pint of water upon awakening. It’s good for colon health and to hydrate the body after hours of sleep. Your colon works to flush waste and it needs water to do this properly. Water is needed to make repairs and keep up the healthy maintenance of the colon. This aids in better digestion, to help normalize body weight and slow the aging process. When you irrigate your system every morning with pure water (up to 32 oz.) your health improves.
According to the chart above, you should consume enough water to equal half your weight in ounces. So a person who weighs 150 pounds should drink 75 ounces of water each day as a minimum. That’s for one who is healthy! If you are ailing, it should be more. If you are detoxing with charcoal, it should be increased to one and one-half times that amount. Keep water with you and be sure to drink a glass every few hours throughout each day. Water helps flush toxins from the body and keeps all fluids moving and prevents stagnation of the blood and Lymphatic Fluids. If you drink other beverages, it should be in addition to the above. And it’s best not to drink any at least one-half hour before eating, during meals, or one-half hour after you’ve eaten or you compromise acid levels needed for proper digestion.
Step Four: 100 Deep Breaths a Day
Breathing may keep you alive but it doesn’t necessarily prevent you from becoming acidic unless you apply some Deep Breathing into your day. The average person takes about 20 or more breaths each minute. While this is adequate to keep us alive, it doesn’t do much to keep the body alkaline, as shallow breathing can create acidity. Taking deep breaths actually helps to keep the body in a more alkaline state.
Filling the belly with air first raises the diaphragm, causing more air to be taken into the lungs. This benefits a number of systems throughout the body, keeping the blood oxygenated, muscles more relaxed, including the heart. It provides mental clarity and aids in weight loss and better sleep but most importantly, it keeps the blood oxygenated which also helps keep the body from becoming acidic as low oxygen levels create acidity.
Deep breathing helps to detoxify our bodies and releases toxins every time we exhale!
Step Five: Dry Brushing
Dry Brushing is the technique of brushing over the skin to move Lymph. You have more Lymphatic fluid than you do blood but there is no pump for moving lymph like there is for blood by the heart. It’s important therefore to keep this fluid moving. Why? Because the Lymphatic System is a major part of the body’s immune system. It’s made up of organs and lymph nodes, ducts, and vessels that transport lymph throughout the body. Many of these vessels are just below the skin and Dry Brushing helps stimulate the normal flow to help keep the body detoxified naturally every day.
Using a soft-bristled brush or a loofah and using short, light strokes, begin at the feet and work upward toward the heart. Do the same with the arms, moving all strokes toward the heart. This needs to be done each day for the optimal health of the Lymph System. This should be done prior to showering or bathing as the dead skin cells will be removed during bathing
Another method to move Lymph is rebounding.
Step Six: Hydro-Therapy (Hot & Cold Water)
When the body is subjected to cold external temperatures, the muscles contract, restricting the flow of circulation. As the skin gets hot, the circulation increases as the muscles relax. Hydrotherapy or sometimes referred to as Hydropathy or “water cure” is a method of applying cold water following an application of hot water. This could be done several times in alternation. An example would be following a hot shower, to run cold water over the heart in the center of the chest, finishing with cold water for about 30 seconds.
This has the effect of unblocking “stuck flows” and increases the circulation of blood to the heart. This draws blood to the heart, allowing the flushing and removal of toxins in and around the heart and pericardium, helping to lower stress and improve circulation. This also moves Lymph to the heart, accomplishing two things at once.
This is also an excellent practice for reducing inflammation and swelling as many already know as it moves blood and fluid with toxins out of the tissue, allowing fresh nutrients to come, along with healing.
Step Seven: Castor Oil Packs
The use of a Castor Oil Pack over the liver each day (or night) is one of the most powerful applications one can use to detox the body. The liver makes up about 25% of our immune system and works hard to detox the body more than other organs, so it makes sense to detox the liver. Although it doesn’t really detox or hold toxins, per se, it does work to process and transport toxins to where they need to go to be eliminated from the body.
Castor Oil has a unique ability when it gets warm to draw blood to the skin that it comes in contact with. This brings fresh nutrients to the liver when applied to the skin over the liver and helps to flush toxins which are expelled with carbon dioxide from the lungs as the blood returns to the heart.
Oil is applied to the skin, covered with a piece of flannel (cotton or wool and preferably organic) and then is best covered with a towel or other cloth to prevent the oil from getting into other material and to keep it warm from your body heat. It is essential to keep this on for at least 20 to 40 minutes each day/night or longer for more benefit.
Applying the Castor Oil Pack during the night is even more effective as the liver receives most of its healing attention during the hours of 1 AM and 3 AM.
Castor Oil Packs are also very effective at reducing inflammation in other parts of the body and are useful for sprains, sore muscles, bones, etc.
See this for more on Castor Oil Packs.
Step Eight: Exercise
We’ve all heard we should get some exercise each day but what does that mean? It is important to get the heart pumping each day and everyone should get at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day to stimulate the heart and improve circulation. Exercise not only improves circulation but improves mood, prevents or improves depression, helps prevent disease, boosts energy, promotes better sleep and enhances sex life. You just can’t get too much exercise.
Step Nine: Get Some Sunshine
It’s not always possible but each day everybody should get at least 15 to 30 minutes of sunshine. This is nature’s Vitamin D and there is no better substitute! When there is no sunshine during the winter months, it’s wise to replace what your body is not getting from the sun but be sure to use Vitamin D-3. But when the sun is shining, that’s the place to be for at least 15 minutes each day.
According to Dr. Zane Kime who used sunbathing and nutrition, exposure to sunlight along with whole food nutrition can heal and prevent breast cancer. The sun’s light can actually kill bacteria and has a beneficial effect in healing skin disorders. The sun converts high cholesterol (7- Dehydrocholesterol) into hormones that we need for better health for reproduction. It also lowers blood pressure. It helps to cleanse the blood and vessels and increases oxygen content in the blood as well as calcium. Sunlight also boosts the immune system by increasing the production of Lymphocytes (white blood) cells. Lastly, sunlight can reduce or help stop depression symptoms. For more on this, see [How Do We Make Vitamin D In Our Body]
Step Ten: Grounding (Earthing)
The process of Grounding or Earthing is done to balance the electrical system of the body. Research indicates that electrons from the Earth have antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and its many well-documented health consequences. For most of our history, humans have had continuous contact with the Earth.
Grounding or Earthing as it’s sometimes called is defined as placing one’s bare feet on the ground whether it be dirt, grass, sand, or concrete (especially when humid or wet). When you ground to the electron-enriched earth, an improved balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system occurs. Although there are Earthing or Grounding Mats, standing, living, sitting on the ground is best. If you can’t get outside to touch the ground, a grounding mat or a piece of slate can provide almost as much benefit.
Step Eleven: Sleep
Just like drinking plenty of water, we’ve all heard to get enough sleep. How much is enough? For most of us, we should be getting 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night. This differs slightly with age but for the most part, we all need sufficient rest. The body heals more between the hours of 9 PM and 10 PM than any other hour of the day or night. This also begins a two hour period known as the “Triple Burner” where the Thyroid, Adrenal and Pancreas are nourished and the metabolism is balanced. If you find yourself waking at the same time each night, it is most likely due to the organ/system shown for that time that is in need of balance.
If we don’t get enough sleep, it can manifest into a number of issues. Both the duration and quality of our sleep can make a huge difference in our lives from weight loss or maintenance to mental health and clarity along with improved memory to avoiding disease. Lack of sleep is attributable to Depression, Fatigue, Stress which leads to inflammation, chronic disease, Brain Fog, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Hypertension, Mood and Behavioral Disorders and a shorter Life Expectancy and more.
If you have difficulty sleeping, either in getting to sleep initially or staying asleep through the night, there are some things you can do to aid a good night’s sleep. Just to address this quickly, Melatonin is a hormone and while it is effective in aiding sleep, it should be avoided and alternatives sought to get the body to produce it’s own sleep hormones. These will also find balance when certain “seeds and oils” (Seed Cycling) are used daily to create balance in the endocrine system.
It is important to understand that there is much benefit to preparing for sleep and starting about an hour before bedtime is helpful. Some people find benefits from hot baths with Epsom Salts as well as taking magnesium beforehand. There are also herbs that can assist in this. Several herbal companies make formulas that can help with putting you to sleep. There are also herbal sleep formulas that can be made at home. Keeping the room you sleep in dark and cooler will also aid in a more sound sleep. Using earplugs can also help if there is noise that may disturb sleep. There are also “white-noise” machines to provide a constant relaxing sound. Wearing a mask can also help. Keeping the same bedtime makes it easier for the body to become conditioned to preparing itself to sleep at that time each night. Using essential oils, such as Lavender, can also help as well as putting Lavender sprigs under the pillow. Having the right bed and pillow also will make a difference.
Do everything you can to get a good, full night’s sleep as it will do much for you throughout the day and help keep inflammation down and allow the body a better chance to heal. For more on sleep and dealing with challenges getting to or staying asleep, see [Not Getting Enough Sleep?]
Step Twelve: Seeds and Oils (Seed Cycling)
Seed Cycling Chart
(For a personal copy to print and use the most current chart) see Seed Cycling
The chart shown above indicates which sets of seeds and oils are best taken according to the moon’s cycles for Endocrine Balance. The proper combination of seeds with their respective oils when taken in this manner, help balance the endocrine system. It is suggested that you change these seeds and oils with the moon’s cycle, which is especially important for women to help regulate the menstrual cycle but will also help with complete hormone balance and is applicable throughout one’s lifetime. This is also effective for men.
From New Moon to Full Moon, when the moon is waxing, take 1 Tablespoon each freshly ground Flax and Pumpkin Seeds (combined). From Full Moon to New Moon, when the moon is waning, take 1 Tablespoon each of Sesame and Sunflower Seeds (combined). You may find using a small coffee bean grinder will work well for this and are fairly inexpensive. Grind the seeds every few days to a week and keep them in the refrigerator. You may mix the two seeds together, taking a total of 2 Tablespoons of combined seeds.
If you find you are sensitive to Flax Seeds, you may substitute Chia Seeds.
Take 2 Tablespoons of blended seeds each day with your meal. Some may need to modify this and exceptions are mentioned in the linked article. This protocol will help restore and regulate hormone balance for both men and women. Seed cycling is so effective because hulls of the seeds contain lignans, which help modulate the hormonal pathways of the body. In addition to the seeds, it is suggested you also include the oils mentioned. Brands are shown and listed for the best effect and dosage.
With your Flax and Pumpkin Seeds, women should take 4 capsules or an equivalent of 5,000 mg of Cod Liver Oil. Fermented Cod Liver Oil may be used but there is no advantage over non-fermented oil. Men should take 1 teaspoon of EFA (Essential Fatty Acid) Oil with these seeds. With the Sesame and Sunflower Seeds, women should take 2 capsules or an equivalent amount of 2600 mg of Evening Primrose Oil and men should take 2 capsules of Black Currant Oil or an equivalent of 1000 mg.
If you have been instructed by your alternative physician to take EFA Oil or have autoimmune issues, it is advisable to continue to do so (as directed) in addition to the other oils or for a period of six months as the gut heals and your system finds balance. Some may want to continue EFA Oil in addition to the alternately scheduled oil.
Using the seeds and oils according to the moon’s cycles will help bring regularity and stability to your entire endocrine system establishing a hormonal balance. Although there is some controversy over the use of seeds, the benefits of using them tend to outweigh any downside.
This “step” also helps in the production of Vitamin D3 from exposure to the sun. 7-Dehydrocholesterol in the skin is converted to (pre-hormone) Vitamin D3 and as much as 10,000 to 25,000 I.U. can be obtained in most individuals following the right diet with lots of fats in less time than it takes for the skin to burn. It also aids effectively in the digestive process.
The 12 steps you’ve just read will enhance whatever other protocols you use to heal by.
Several things have been found to be common among those who have healed. The body needs to be alkalinized, “Leaky Gut” needs to be healed and the triggers that create inflammation need to be stopped. If you haven’t found the healing you need, it could be you need to include the twelve steps above or it could be you need to make the following changes to stop the triggers that are setting off your immune system, or both.
It is therefore important to know that grains with gluten, agglutinin, and/or gliadin (wheat, rye, barley, triticale, oats, corn); conventional dairy in which the enzymes capable of helping to digest the milk proteins, primarily Casein and/or the milk sugar (Lactose) are destroyed during pasteurization, and processed sugar (the primary cause of both acidity and inflammation from food in the body) are all known to cause inflammation beginning in the gut and affecting various parts of the body that is predisposed through genetics combined with the environmental impact that’s left that particular organ or system vulnerable. For some, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, the herb, Ashwagandha, and some berries, etc.) are also major proponents of inflammation and need to be avoided.
The biggest problem with not eliminating all of these for a period of time to detox the body is that you may not know which one or more triggers are causing your inflammation and may be necessary to eliminate them for a time to be sure. There are still other foods that may need to be eliminated if these don’t correct everything but for most, removing these mentioned from the diet for several months can help to reverse most conditions.
One more food many should eliminate and for good reasons are legumes. These include Peanuts (not a true nut), Soy, Beans, Lentils, Peas, Alfalfa, etc. These can cause issues foro some and block minerals from being absorbed and utilized.
Eliminating these foods will stop the triggers that affect most people! Incorporating the steps above with the elimination of the above foods will allow most people to heal as it eliminates the inflammation that fuels autoimmunity and the conditions that are related.
When it comes to produce, it is best to choose organic to avoid pesticides and chemicals that are used on many conventional crops. Incorporating as many varieties of vegetables per day and per week is healthiest. Grass-fed, Organic and Pasture Raised Meats are the better choices. On the subject of meat, it is healthier to select “one-legged” (fish) most often, next would be “two-legged” (poultry, Imu, Ostrich, etc.), and lastly “four-legged” the least often. Fruit should be kept to hard fruits like apples and pears and some berries while healing.
Remember: If you suffer from an illness, it has taken a while to get where you are and will take some time to heal. Most seem to take about 6 months to heal the gut but can take longer so be patient and don’t expect overnight results!
Taken from Practicing Paleo Guide and Recipe Book – by Douglas Kent Johnson
©2015 Rev. Douglas Kent Johnson/MOMs Best Publishing
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