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WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN HEALTH?

by Tom Billings

Question: Can you comment on the one factor that has had the most profound positive effect on your health (vitamins, minerals, herbs, sprouts, green drink, exercise, yoga, book, raw foods, fasting, raw fresh juices, etc.) and would you recommend this to others? - Anonymous

Answer:

You are asking a very interesting question! Before giving specific answers, let me introduce the topic. First, health itself has multiple aspects: the health of body, mind, and spirit. To be truly healthy, one must address all three aspects. Raw diets deal mostly with the body, and most of the factors you list above in your question (except for one), deal primarily with the body. Besides diet, factors that may influence health include: stress, breathing, personal attitudes (positive thinking), exposure to environmental toxins, your relationships with others, etc. The approach to spiritual health will depend on whatever spiritual tradition (if any) you prefer.

Also, the road to health - finding healing, and/or maintaining health, will vary on an individual basis. What works for one, might not be appropriate for another. Raw diets are wonderful, but they are not for everyone. There is no specific diet, or approach to health, that is universally the "best" for every person. There is no "perfect" diet or health system. Instead, we must each find the approaches that work for us, by study and experimentation.

With the above caveat, let me specify that I will answer your question from my personal perspective. Needless to say, the answers could be different for another person. The best way to answer your question is to split health into the aspects listed above.

Physical Health

The most important factor to me is a predominantly raw food, sprout based diet. I also find it helpful (and healthful) to limit the amount of fruit I eat. After raw diet, herbs (Ayurveda: the traditional Indian system of medicine) are very helpful and important to me.

Would I recommend a raw diet to others? I would exercise some discretion in recommending a raw diet to others. Instead of telling people they "should" or "must" be X% raw, I consider it appropriate to suggest the following.

1) Most people on the standard Western diet eat too much cooked/processed food, and many of them may find that their health improves significantly, if they eat more raw/unprocessed foods.

2) Find the % of raw that serves you best in that it supports good health, and the diet works for you in practice. (It is in practice that many would-be "100% raw" people fail.)

3) Raw food diets are not for everyone. Some people may find that other diets are of more benefit to them (the examples of ketogenic, macrobiotic diets come to mind immediately). If raw works for you, that is wonderful. If raw does not work for you, then do not be blinded by dogma - allow yourself the freedom to experiment with other diets, and find one that does work for you.

Mental Health

I find that a gentle, spiritual hatha yoga practice - asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation - is the most helpful. A regular practice of yoga provides real stress relief, and promotes a "sattvic" - calm, peaceful, loving - state of mind. In my experience, Integral Yoga is the best style for me. There are other, more strenuous styles, but gentle works as well or better for many people. (The gentle style of Integral Yoga is used in the program of Dr. Dean Ornish, to help reverse heart disease.)

I would recommend yoga to anyone who is able to do it, which is most people. Who cannot do gentle yoga? The disabled might not be able to do asanas, but may be able to do pranayama and breathing practices. The severely mentally ill might not be able to meditate, (e.g., schizophrenics may hear voices when they try to sit in meditation), although they might be able to imitate asanas (postures).

Spiritual Health

This will vary according to the spiritual orientation of each person, so I will not give a specific answer. Instead I would encourage you to explore the teachings of the spiritual tradition(s) of your choice.

 

 

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