What’s being promoted online?
There’s a huge amount of information from a variety of practitioners all making recommendations about how to heal the immune system. Responding to this, I want to be clear – I like to show people what’s possible in the healing process. People often make improvements in their condition and yet, is there a true “cure”?
How our bodies respond to functional medicine depends on many different issues. One issue is how long we’ve been unwell and what may have been the triggers of our imbalance. If we’ve been unwell for many years, the road to wellness may be lengthy and filled with obstacles. All practitioners highlight the success they’ve had personally and with patients. On the flip side, every practitioner has had experiences where a patient hasn’t responded as expected. The healing process is not linear.
Is there hope for a “cure”?
Curing and healing are two different issues. In many cases, the damage to the body and its systems isn’t completely repairable. When we aren’t able to catch immune disorders in the earliest stages, before damage happens, we may not be able to completely reverse the changes using functional medicine. Despite not being able to reverse tissue damage, the healing process can continue forward and life can be improved. Healing is a feeling of wholeness despite the imperfections we experience in our body and/or mind. We can always move toward wholeness.
What can I do to support my healing? First, start with food and sleep. These are the foundations for any healing program.
With food, it’s powerful to make one agreement with ourselves – we agree to avoid factory-made food. If it comes with ingredients it’s off the list. This can be the most difficult commitment to make. However, the payoff can be big. If jumping in with both feet is your style, start by “purging” your home of tempting products. Then search on YouTube, or your browser for easy recipes incorporating five or so, ingredients. Consider smoothies for breakfast or snacks. Using fruits and veggies from the freezer can make smoothies a very quick meal. Then, have three recipes selected for breakfast, three for lunch, and three for supper. Once you learn these recipes, it will be easy to rotate them with less effort. You can add something new when you feel bored. Remember to eat all the colors of the rainbow daily, if possible. This gives the body raw materials to work with.
If you prefer to “dip your toe in the water”, start by agreeing to no dessert unless you make it yourself. Even better, find dessert recipes made with fresh fruits and no added sweeteners. Gradually extend your eating habits over time, to avoid processed foods.
If you were fortunate enough to have parents who established a bedtime ritual with you when you were little, now’s the time to remember what gave you comfort. If you didn’t have this experience, here are some tips. Get up the same time of day each day so that your body can have a predictable rhythm. Allow lots of light exposure in the morning to boost your brain and hormone response. Start your day with activity that gently eases you into your schedule such as a cup of tea, music, or gentle exercise. Then progressively allow for more movement and energy. This is when many people will take a walk.
In the evening, aim for an early supper at least three hours before bedtime (or a very light supper if you have to eat later). Watch the sunset if you can. Then, an hour before you want to sleep, begin your bedtime ritual. Make this ritual full of gentle activities that help you to relax. Consider wearing amber glasses to block blue light, closing your electronic devices, dimming the house lights, a warm shower or bath, and music, guided meditation, restorative yoga, journaling or other calming activities. Remember to make the bedroom cool and dark to enhance sleep. Allow six weeks for improvement in falling and staying asleep.
The importance of internal work
Of all the things we can do to help ourselves progress in the healing process, internal work is the most powerful tool we can use. Many of our obstacles to wellness reside in our own thinking and emotional habits, as well as the flow of energy in the body. Working with a spiritual counselor, therapist, or other trusted professional can be highly valuable in helping to remove blocks to healing. Often, just learning a new way to view our lives and our journey can be very helpful. Without fail, my most successful patients have done this inner work.
Focus on the process
When our body is out of balance, we have an opportunity to see where life is not balanced. If we only look at the goal of wellness, we can miss the learning, and even the precious experiences along the way. Wellness is not absolute, it’s a direction. Each day there can be small victories and setbacks. Over time, the victories may be more frequent. Without fail there is learning every day – about life, about ourselves, others, and about what the body is asking for. Trust your process and allow yourself to be in the journey. Don’t forget to acknowledge what IS going right.
More than a pill and a pat on the back!
Gentle Integrative Care is all about finding the unique causes of your immune imbalances. Start your journey to wellness today with your personalized functional and lifestyle medicine program.
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