People who live a long, healthy life have something in common: they possess a strong work ethic, give back to their community, maintain a positive attitude, eat simple, whole foods, and enjoy close bonds with family. It is never too late to incorporate these traits into your life to live longer, regenerate your zest for life, and find peace within the world’s chaos.
Women’s Voice editorial board weighs in on living a long, active, fulfilling life!
The keys to living your longest and best life are well within your reach – that’s the message we received from our Women’s Voice editorial board when we asked for their tips on health, longevity, and stress management. These are the long-time practitioners and avid researchers whom we always consult about savvy health and lifestyle advice, knowing that they bring a wealth of data to support their tips and recommendations. Many of their suggestions focus on daily choices, such as choosing wholefoods, staying active, and supplementing with concentrated nutrients.
“Create a powerful why”
— Michael Murray, ND
Michael T. Murray is one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine. Dr. Murray is a graduate and faculty member of Bastyr University, and he serves on its Board of Regents. He is the author of over 30 books, including the acclaimed bestseller The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Third Edition).
Why do we wish for longevity? “For me, life is about purpose, mission, growth, and being as healthy as possible, so that I can have the full spectrum of the human experience. I could not imagine not wanting to live life to its full potential.” Dr. Murray advises his patients to “eat to control blood sugar levels,” including five or more servings of vegetables daily and two servings of fruit. He adds, “Focus on organic foods, reduce the intake of meat and other animal products, and keep salt intake low. Choose high-quality protein supplements and eat the right type of fats. The goal is to decrease your intake of saturated fats and omega-6 fats found in most vegetable oils, and to increase the intake of monounsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil while ensuring an adequate intake of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flaxseed oil.” To deal with stress, Dr. Murray suggests four focuses: getting restful sleep, stabilizing blood sugar, nourishing both body and brain, and developing good life-management skills. This, he says, makes up the “cohesive fabric” that supports us in dealing with life’s challenges.
“Know that your DNA is not your destiny”
— Gaetano Morello, ND
Gaetano Morello is an author, researcher, and board-certified naturopathic doctor at the West Vancouver Wellness Centre. He received his BSc in cell biology from the University of British Columbia, and his PhD in naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University. For the last 10 years, he focused his practice on gastrointestinal health and chronic disease.
Studies have highlighted how identical twins, separated at birth, can grow up looking quite different from one another – with obvious disparities in muscle and fat distribution, and vast differences in health status.
“Factors such as stress, diet, and nurture (namely, the relationships around you) have been shown to influence the expression of our DNA,” Dr. Morello explains. To achieve our best possible genetic inheritance, he recommends a protein intake of 25 g twice a day, and taking steps to control stress. “What we do in life echoes in eternity,” he says, quoting an old saying. “Whatever we put out is what we’ll find. If we are hungry and all we have is a corn cob, eating it leaves us with nothing. But if half the corn cob is dried and given back to the land, it will multiply and give sustenance for a long time. Sharing and giving, loving and supporting are similar acts; they create peace within and soothe what we may call stress.”
Equally important, countering stress prevents leaky gut syndrome from allowing toxins into the bloodstream and damaging the body, much as a leaky roof damages a home. “When water lands on your leather sofa, it creates mould, and this is like developing eczema. If it hits the hinges on the doors, they rust and create arthritis. If it hits your television, it’s like getting memory loss.” He says that instead of fixing health problems as they arise, we ought to address the big issue – stress – to “close the holes on the roof.”
“Respect the power of little changes”
— Kate Rhéaume, ND
Kate Rhéaume is a Canadian expert, author, and educator in natural medicine. Kate regularly reports on television and the radio.
“I think the most important driving force in my life and that of my patients is our power to create healthier habits by making little changes over a long time. It makes living a healthy lifestyle feel effortless. When it comes to diet, I follow the 80/20 rule – I eat as well as possible 80% of the time, and enjoy whatever I want, guilt-free, 20% of the time. When things get stressful, I remind myself that no matter what is happening, it won’t be this way forever. And if there’s conflict in a relationship, I put myself in the other person’s position. Every time, it’s an eye-opener that fills me with empathy and compassion.”
“Take an active role in your own health”
— Stephanie Rubino, ND
Stephanie Rubino is a licensed naturopathic doctor in clinical practice focusing on women’s health,
stress and anxiety, and digestive health.
According to Stephanie, “When we are advocates for our own mental and physical wellness, we create a strong foundation for our well-being and positively influence the health of the personal relationships in our community.” She advises us to keep track of our health history, collaborate fully with our health care practitioners, and ask the questions that will help us gather sound information. “It’s also important to discover the dietary strategies, nutritional supplements, and activities that help you feel your best,” she adds. The give-and-take between an involved patient and their caregiver is what allows such discoveries to be made, she says.
Additional ways to advocate for yourself:
- Identify your stress triggers and determine how stress impacts your health. During unavoidable stress, “continue eating healthily, staying hydrated, maintaining physical activity, and practising relaxation exercises.”
- Ensure balance and variety in your diet. Choose proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and fermented foods that you know will support your immunity, digestion, brain function, and hormones.
- Use effective communication to build successful relationships. “Create a safe space where you can honestly share your opinions and feelings, listen carefully, and be present for the people you care about.” Developing trust with others starts here, she says.
“Know that your health is the greatest gift you can give, not just to yourself, but to your children”
— Marita Schauch, ND
Marita Schauch is in practice at Tall Tree Integrated Health Centre, a wellness clinic in Victoria, BC, and she lectures across North America on positive lifestyle choices.
“We all struggle with daily life, its temptations, and the overall effect these have on weight and health,” the doctor says. “The greatest advice I can share is to love family, forgive easily, enjoy life, and eat treats on special occasions – just not every day. It’s these daily decisions that gift us with a long, active, healthy life.”
Dr. Marita tells her patients to control stress by taking one day at a time, enjoying the company of family and friends, and “finding the activities that ground them.” To eat well and support community, she urges us to “choose organic, nutrient-rich foods from local farmers.” To build long-lasting and mutually supportive relationships, she advises us to show respect, demonstrate love, tell our truths, listen to others, and, instead of fostering resentment or score-settling, choose forgiveness.
“Remember that attitude and perception matter”
— Karen Jensen, ND
Karen Jensen was in clinical practice for 25 years. Although she is retired, she continues to write books and educate on the naturopathic approach to wellness. She is the author and co-author of seven books, her most recent being Three Brains, a comprehensive guide for brain health.
Relationships are “complicated,” but “our outlook on life is the foundation” not only of our relationships, but of our health as well, Dr. Jensen believes. Mindset affects stress, which in turn affects health. She explains, “Perception is how we think about a given situation, and it is part of what determines whether the stress response is triggered. For example, if our perception is influenced by a negative attitude, then the stressor will be perceived as more of a threat than it would be if we had a more optimistic outlook.” To prevent activating the inflammation response that follows perceived stress, “remember that stress is not an inevitable cause of disease,” the doctor says. “Rather, it’s a controllable cause of disease because we have a choice in how we respond.” Other ways to counteract stress? Eat a Mediterranean diet, she advises, and supplement with adaptogens to combat the negative impact of the stress response.
We’ll wrap up this feast of advice by emphasizing the underlying message in all the pointers we received from our editorial board: it’s our daily decisions, both the ones we actively choose and the ones we hardly know we’re making, that make all the difference in our quest to live a longer, healthier life!