You’ve heard the term “holistic” being thrown around in the health and wellness community, but no, it is not just another word for organic. Living a holistic approach lifestyle is based around an entire philosophy that requires changes to your way of thinking. Read this article to find out how you can change your lifestyle and start your holistic journey today.
What is the Holistic Approach?
When something is “holistic,” this means that it takes into considerations all of the parts that make up the whole. Holistic emphasizes that every component is intimately interconnected, and affect each other. You’re not thinking about any one individual aspect; you’re thinking about the bigger picture, and how supporting that will solve any smaller issues. So, what does it mean to take this approach to health?
What Is Holistic Health?
Holistic health is based on this premise in the body, following the philosophy that a person’s optimal health isn’t just based on not being sick; it’s based on the balance of the whole living person. In holistic health, you’re not only focussing on alleviating, masking, or addressing the symptoms of an illness. To treat something holistically means to recognize that the mind, body, spirit, and emotions are profoundly interconnected and need to be in balance to treat the underlying cause of any health issue. If one component in your body is malfunctioning, that can affect all other parts.
What Are Holistic Diets?
There’s a big misconception that all a holistic diet consists of is eating organic foods. Yes, organic food is typically beneficial and an excellent thing to include in your diet as much as possible. However, that’s not what makes a diet holistic; you need to approach a diet as eating right across the board and giving every part of your body the nutrients it needs to operate and function. A holistic diet isn’t about cutting carbs or counting calories; it’s about feeding your body the right foods.
Holistic Diet Plan for Weight Loss
Eat More Fruit:
- A great natural source of glucose, which your body needs to produce energy and grow, is fruit. Your brain loves carbs, which you also can get naturally from fruit. Because it is full of antioxidants that clean out your body and reduce inflammation, fruit should be included in your diet on a regular basis. And, an added bonus is that it also tastes great!
Get the Good Fats:
- Your body can’t thrive without fat; it’s crucial for your cells to function optimally. However, not all fat is good fat; you should avoid the trans fats found in red meat, cheese, ice cream, and processed foods. Instead, go for essential fatty acids (especially omega-3’s), which you can find in nuts, vegetables, fish, and legumes. Keeping a balance of essential fatty acids in your body helps to lower cholesterol, improve metabolism, and maintain healthy digestion.
Integrate More Fiber:
- Your body uses fiber to clean out your intestines and prevent your gut from absorbing more nutrients than necessary, which helps you to keep weight off. Fiber slows down your digestion and makes you feel fuller longer too, which is a big help when trying not to gain weight. You should be getting about 20-30 grams of fiber per day in your diet; be sure to get a balance of soluble fiber (berries, brans, hard fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds) and insoluble fiber (grains and vegetables).
Fuel Your Body with Protein:
- The body needs protein for a variety of critical functions, like building muscle. If you want your excess body fat to be replaced with muscle, it’s important to eat good proteins. However, that doesn’t mean just to eat a lot of meat; there’s actually a lot of vegetables that have a higher protein content than meat and eggs (spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, parsley, cucumbers, peanuts, green peppers, cabbage, almonds, tomatoes, and more).
What Is Holistic Medicine?
Holistic medicine is a form of healing that considers the whole person, and their body, mind, spirit, and emotions, when treating illness and maintaining wellness. But, this doesn’t mean getting rid of prescription medication altogether; holistic treatment plans may involve drugs (when necessary) to help relieve symptoms alongside lifestyle modifications to get to the root of the problem.
Principles of Holistic Medicine
In holistic medicine, there are a few main principles that most practitioners go by. Mainly, holistic practitioners treat with the mindset that a patient is a person, not a disease. This way of thinking helps to treat the whole body, rather than just the disease and its symptoms. Holistic practitioners also approach their practice as a team approach between the patient and the doctor, working to address all aspect of the patient’s life (and not just the illness they’re experiencing). At the heart of all of this is the fact that holistic treatment focuses on fixing the innate cause of the condition, and not just alleviating any symptoms experienced because of it.
Types of Holistic Treatments
Lifestyle Changes & Self-Care: This type of treatment typically includes practices that alter the patient’s way of living in order to promote wellness. These include:
- Relationship & Spiritual Counseling
Complementary & Alternative Therapy: These treatments focus on therapeutic practices that focus on more than one part of the body. This can be:
- Chiropractic Care
- Massage Therapy
Western Medications & Surgical Procedures: As previously discussed, holistic medicine does not cast out the merits of western medicine. Instead, modern medicine is used in conjunction with the other two types of treatments as a holistic approach to the body and wellness.
Benefits of a Holistic Lifestyle
Living a holistic lifestyle can cause some radical changes to your mind, body, spirit, and emotions. You may find benefits across the board; with immune health, mental health, skin care, self-care, and more.
Benefits of a Holistic Lifestyle on Immune Health
Living a holistic lifestyle can have a variety of effects on the health of your immune system. Here are only a few of the benefits that you may be able to see once you start living holistically:
Boosted Vitamin Intake:
- By eating a healthy diet rich in natural sources of nutrients, as well as taking a multivitamin supplement, you will drastically increase the amount of vitamins A, B2, B6, C, D, and E in your body. These vitamins have all been shown to play a critical role in helping strengthen our immune system and fight illnesses.
Higher Production of Antibodies:
- If you’re living holistically, then there’s a good chance you’ll be out in the sunlight. Vitamin D, which you can get from the sun, also helps your immune system to produce antibodies. Low levels of vitamin D have actually been correlated to a higher risk of respiratory infection, so it’s safe to say that a healthy amount of vitamin D can be a great asset to your immune system.
- By introducing meditation, massages, relaxing baths, music, and other stress-reducing practices to your life, you’ll help your body to relax. This relaxation of the body actually helps improve our immune system by encouraging the release of positive hormones and discouraging the release of stress hormones like cortisol.
- By eating more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, you’re helping your immune system stay healthy through the powerful antioxidants found in these foods. Specifically, cabbage, kale, and broccoli are great with helping the liver detoxify your body. Mushrooms are also loaded with antioxidants, helping to support the production of immune cells.
Improve Strength, Flexibility, and Balance:
- By exercising regularly, you’ll be helping your body to maintain a well functioning immune system. Certain exercises, such as yoga and tai chi, are great for reducing stress (and the stress hormone cortisol) as well.
Benefits of a Holistic Lifestyle on Mental Health
Through a holistic approach and employing a holistic thinking practice, you may also be able to aid in your own mental health. There are a few different types of holistic treatments that have been shown to make a difference in mental health:
- Acupuncture & Massage: These treatments help the mind by offering relaxation, pain reduction, mood improvement, and enhancement of the body’s innate healing abilities.
- Yoga & Meditation: By employing these practices, you can cultivate an awareness of the mind and body within yourself. Using yoga and medication can also provide you the tools you need to manage stress more effectively.
- Individualized Fitness & Nutrition: By implementing a fitness routine and diet on an individualized basis, you’ll be able to develop your own personalized healthy lifestyle habits. Through this, you can practice prevention and work on specific concerns you may have with your energy, immunity, sleep, mood, and more.
- Nutritional Supplements: By taking dietary supplements, you can help your body to balance its chemistry and work better together as a whole. Vitamins, herbs, enzymes, and oils are most commonly used to aid in mental health holistically.
- Prescribed Medication: When necessary, certain medications can also help to relieve any symptoms of mental health issues. You can employ prescribed medications alongside psychotherapy and holistic treatments because they all complement and balance one another to help you achieve the ultimate goal of wellness.
Benefits of a Holistic Lifestyle on Skin & Self-Care
Living holistically can also have a significant effect on your skin’s health and your self-care practices. Here are just a few ways that you can make your skin care routine holistic:
Use Gentle Ingredients:
- Many skin-care products include harsh ingredients that strip away essential skin oil and actually damage your skin in the long run. Rather than taking a quick solution to a skin problem, nurture your skin, so it is healthy in the long-term. Try to use a good oil cleaner to preserve your skin’s barrier functions, make sure you’re getting the right amount of vitamins and antioxidants, and use SPF sunscreen when you go outside. Skin-care should also be done routinely; remember that you’re working to make your skin healthy long-term.
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet:
- It should be evident to you by now that what you eat makes a huge difference in the overall health of your body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Certain foods, like dairy, can lead to more acne in the skin. Foods that increase blood sugar, such as sugar, white bread, pasta, processed foods, and sodas, can also make acne worse, as well as break down collagen and cause inflammation. Instead, try to eat foods rich in antioxidants, because they help to neutralize free radicals that may damage your skin.
Drink More Water:
- You’ve heard countless times that the secret to good skin is drinking water. Yes, it is actually that simple. The importance of water on your overall health and wellbeing is overlooked way too often. Drinking a healthy amount of water every day helps to keep your skin well-hydrated and clear; it’s vital to a good skin care routine.
- By exercising on a regular basis, you’ll be able to ease stress and release endorphins that regulate the stress hormone cortisol (which can cause acne and inflammation in the skin). Also, sweating while exercising helps to clear out the skin of toxins so that your skin will be less susceptible to acne. Another benefit is the improvement in circulation and blood flow that you’ll get with exercise, which is vital for taking the waste out of the body and transporting nutrients to skin cells.
Get Your Beauty Sleep:
- When you’re sleep deprived, your skin can become grey and saggy, and you may develop dark circles underneath your eyes. Sleep deprivation also results in elevated levels of cortisol, leading to inflammation. Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. Sleep is a restorative period for your body and skin where you rejuvenate, renew, and regenerate.
Are There Any Cons to a Holistic Lifestyle?
At this point, you’re probably thinking that there have to be some drawbacks to living a holistic lifestyle. Well, there are a few criticisms of living holistically:
- Scientific agreement and testing are lacking. It’s been difficult for scientists to corroborate the real benefits of holistic treatments and determine whether or not it’s just a placebo effect. Holistic supplements also aren’t always regulated by the FDA, so some may not be able to stand up to the health claims that they make. Because of this, be sure to do your research into the exact supplements you’re buying.
- Insurance typically won’t cover holistic treatments. Unlike western medicine and conventional medical treatments, insurance companies often refuse to pay for alternative treatments. This is because of the previously discussed issue; there’s a lack of hard evidence in the scientific community that holistic treatments work.
- Treatments that are holistic aren’t always reliable. Because western medicine has been tested repeatedly to assure its effectiveness, you can expect to get the result that is being advertised. However, because alternative treatments are often not as rigorously tested as traditional medications, their results may vary.
How to Start Your Holistic Journey
Now that you have an idea of how holistic health works, start taking these steps to begin your holistic journey.
- Change what you eat. Use the diet tips you’ve gained from this article to start making positive changes to what you eat every day.
- Start moving. Whether it’s rigorous exercise or yoga, start moving your body and getting fit to encourage wellness in your body.
- Stop stressing. As you’ve learned, stress can lead to hormones that negatively impact your overall health and wellbeing. Employ tactics like meditation and therapy to better deal with stress.
- Remove toxins. Whether it’s toxic foods, toxic chemicals, or even toxic ways of thinking, try to identify what’s making you feel bad and work on eliminating it from your life.
- Heal holistically. If you’re suffering from a disease or condition, or just want to improve your overall health, then combine your traditional medications and treatments with alternative treatments like acupuncture and massage.