Illness and wellness are two sides of the same coin. Man is born with all the necessary in-built repair mechanisms to correct most of it, if not all. Holistic care is focused on this very aspect of wellness where human’s immune system works of itself and therapeutic measures is a small part of it and not everything.
Three major segments which forms holistic lifestyle are:
Since all ills originate in the mind, time has come to think of keeping the mind healthy to have good bodily health. How to keep the mind clean? Modern medical research has already thrown enough light on the role of the mind in major killer diseases like heart attacks and cancer et cetera. Depression seems to be the major risk factor for cancer; depression and, most importantly, hostility have come out as the leading risk factors for myocardial infarction; anger is leading others in the race to get the credit for bringing on haemorrhagic stroke. Be that as it may, how do we alter this mental state? There have been attempts to alter the mental states of depression etc., using during with questionable change in the risk status. Detailed discussion on these topics are available in earlier chapters.
Indian Ayurveda, the science of life, which has existed for “times out of mind” has understood the mind at various levels of development (evolution) and has the right advice to change the mental states for better as shown in the previous chapter. The great science of Yoga is said to be the right solution. Mind has five levels: manas, budhi, chitta, purusha, and ishwara. Man could evolve to higher levels of the mind by his/her effort. Up until the level of chitta, man’s ego does not alter the mental state of universal compassion. It is the ego at the level of the chitta that makes man unhappy and brings sorrow in its wake. It is at this level Yoga (chitta vriti nirodhaha yogada) is said to be very effective.
Most of the advice that we get about our diet from the existing “scientific” literature is unscientific, to say the least. The essence of healthy living is moderation in food intake. There must be a wide choice of foods in the diet. Vegetarian food is healthier since man basically is a vegetarian. Five to six small meals a day would be ideal. The meals must get smaller as the day goes and the supper must be the smallest. Of the six, three could be fruit meals only. Fat is an essential part of our daily intake but must be kept below 20% of the total daily intake. Other than mother’s milk the next best fat in food should be coconut (or other palm) oil. Deep frying anything is not advisable. The western myth of cholesterol is only a business proposition and has nothing to do with humans nutrition, in the words of a famous chemist. If one has a disease called familial hypercholesterolemia, one might need appropriate treatment for that condition. Barring which, diet plays a very insignificant role in cholesterol metabolism. Cholesterol is a vital need of the body of building body cell wall. Very low cholesterol levels predispose to cancer in a big way! The first ever Died-Heart Study in Framingham showed that the two are not directly connected, way back in 1959, but the study did not see the light of the day in print. Curious are the ways of science in the west. John bokris, a great chemist, the father of cold fusion method, has called reductionist science as a western religion in his famous book the new Paradigm.2
Regular exercise is one of the most important part of the lifestyle modification. This is very important for today’s white collar professionals and our sedentary housewives. For the hard working labour class, exercise could be a curse. Simple daily walks lasting up to one hour would be the best that could happen to our health. This has the power to keep us a healthy as possible and avoid many a fatal illness. Overexertion and heavy physical exercise like jogging are not healthy. The best part of daily exercise is the pleasure that it gives for a person who takes time to enjoy Nature en route. However, it should not be an obsession. Even if done for four to five days in a week it is a good as daily exercise. Swimming is another good exercise for those that have the means. Walking in waist deep water could also be very good.3