The top 10 health non negotiables
#GraceTalks brings together industry leaders to discuss pioneering scientific research and medical developments in a diverse array of topics, from the menopause to mental health.
At Grace we firmly believe in arming you with the essential tools for ageing well – and knowledge is a vital component of this. To that end, we’re sharing highlights from our first, enlightening conversation; The Top Ten Health Non-Negotiables. Words by curator and health and wellbeing journalist, Suzanne Duckett.
On a January evening guests gathered in the atrium and I had the pleasure of introducing our first discussion and a stellar panel:
Dr Shideh Pouria, Environmental and Nutritional doctor and Grace practitioner; Dental Hypnotherapist Dr Kathrin Huzelmann and Dr Tim Evans a GP, integrated health practitioner and Grace Medical Director.
Rather than yet another ‘to-do’ list, the experts shared meaningful, overarching philosophies and essential theory that we carried over into a delicious, intimate dinner with the panellists. Here are the highlights:
The panel unanimously agreed that we must take more responsibility for our own health, listening to our bodies in a more mindful way. Dr Shideh Pouria says, “We need to become more aware of the bigger picture. We often find ourselves living in a culture of convenience and consumerism without counting the cost. What seems to be convenient today, we pay for down the line with our health, time and money. When we are aware of the true value and cost of each choice in life, then we are truly in control of our health. It’s then that we become true conscious stewards of our lives, our communities and our planet.”
We are increasingly conscious of our consumption habits and how it is affecting our health. Dr Shideh Pouria says, “If you were to make ONE change in your life, choose and consume the right food for you: this will change not only your health, but the health of our society, our ecosystems and our planet. For too long we have been steeped in a campaign of misinformation about what is healthy and what is not. Simply put: avoid sugar and processed refined foods; increase nutrient density through consuming sufficient organic, free-range, grass-fed eggs, dairy, poultry and meat and wild fish and seafood; avoid grains as much as possible and replace with plenty of fresh, organic, vegetables, salads, and herbs; do not shy away from quality oils and fats; eat locally produced, seasonal food; maintain variety and balance in your diet.”
Often overlooked, our dental habits can have significant implications for our overall health. Dr Kathrin Huzelmann is cautious with mercury as it is a neurotoxin, affecting the brain and the nervous system. She says, “I don’t use mercury because no one knows their levels of tolerance to it.”
Flossing, however, is paramount: “Bacteria from lack of flossing can get into the blood system and sit on the heart valves, with potential complications like increased risk of atheroscleroses (a build-up in the lining of artery walls), heart attack and stroke, but as they spread out into the body, they also increase the risk of breast cancer and diabetes. The mouth is so important” Huzelmann continues, “it’s the first fortress of the immune system and the beginning of the digestive system. It needs looking after and keeping it clean for wonderful things like eating, speaking, laughing, singing, kissing” she says. “To me not flossing is like having a shower and not washing your armpits!”.
Dr Shideh Pouria says, “Ninety per cent of our toxicity comes from our gut and what goes through it. Poor digestion, antibiotics and poor food and drink choices all affect our health’. However, external environmental issues are a significant threat to humanity, creating a toxic burden not just in the ecosystem but in our bodies through pollution of our soils, water tables, food, air and light.” This reinforces the importance looking after our gut health by buying local, organic, seasonal foods wherever possible and consuming a wholesome, unprocessed diet . Beyond this, every consumer choice we make, be it food, personal care products or beyond, we can make a difference to our health: planetary and personal. Reducing exposure to toxic chemicals and materials, not only reduces the toxic load on ourselves, it also saves our over-burdened ecosystems.
“To stay healthy we must support our intrinsic detoxification pathways,” says Dr Shideh Pouria. “Every cell in our body is detoxifying us every minute of the day and night. They have special ‘machinery’ for clearing the build-up of metabolic and extrinsic toxins. In the body the liver and kidneys are specifically designed for detoxification but the gut, the lungs and the skin also contribute to the work of cleansing our bodies when we are overwhelmed.
By drinking pure water, breathing pure air, and eating pure food we reduce the in-going toxic burden. Avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, as well as looking after the balance of our gut bacteria, will improve our chances of avoiding chronic degenerative and inflammatory disease.” Shideh recommends active fasting, exercise, saunas and regular natural cleanses to help support our body’s detoxification processes. “We wouldn’t clean our house just twice a year, so we would do well to adopt the same approach to our health,” she concludes.
‘All matter is frozen light’. Sunlight is the source of all life and all food. As such it is the most processed food on earth – captured by plants and plankton and converted into sugar and protein and fat as it is consumed up the food chain. Without sunlight we cannot make Vitamin D, which explains the current epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency.
“The sun has been vilified,” says Dr Shideh Pouria. “Instead of blocking it out we should embrace it safely through safe sun-bathing. We can prevent injury to our skin and eyes from the more harmful rays of the sun, by avoiding factors that stress our cells and deplete our intrinsic natural antioxidants and through good nutrition. ”Dr Tim Evans agrees “Some morning and/or late afternoon exposure to sunshine is essential to maintain good health”.
It seems there is dissonance between our digital appliances and our bodies. Dr Shideh Pouria says, “We need to be mindful of the electro-smog that we are exposed to and take measures to protect ourselves against its potentially harmful effects, especially during sleep.” Dr Tim Evans goes further to say “Blue light is an issue. Working on an electronic device late into the evening can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and develop good sleep patterns. A simple solution to this is simply leaving your laptop and mobile phone outside the bedroom.”
Dr Tim Evans advocated adopting an active role in our medical treatment. “We need to ask questions about the benefits and side effects of proposed drug treatments and by so doing have a better understanding of what we are taking. Only then can we make informed decisions as to whether to take the recommended drug or try an alternative medicine.” he says.
According to Dr Tim Evans, the average adult in the UK takes four pills per day, so there must be an element of overprescribing by doctors or individuals buying far too many ‘over the counter’ remedies without considering more natural and practical solutions to their symptoms. Research, ask questions and take responsibility for your personal health.
Trainer Jason Reynolds said that strength and cardiovascular endurance are of paramount important to any exercise regime, but a person’s training programme should be tailored to their individual needs. “Doing Extreme HIIT without properly preparing the body for what it’s about to go through is not great, as it increases the risk of injury. Building up gradually is essential to a sustainable fitness plan – which in turn, is the only way to achieve long term health benefits.”
Jason also shared findings from a recent study conducted at Stanford University. It showed that leg strength is a hugely important factor, ‘in fact it is the number one factor for living a longer life” he says. So expect a focus on leg strength from the fitness world from here on in…
There are no shortcuts: according to Dr Tim Evans, “We need a minimum of seven hours’ good-quality sleep per night to repair ourselves. There is a rise in depression and chronic health disorders associated with sleep deprivation.” To achieve serene slumber, he suggests better sleep hygiene: “The temperature of the room is crucial, ideally between 18-20 degrees Celsius and we should leave all technology in another room.” For more insights on sleep, join us for a dedicated #GraceTalks evening discussing The secrets, the science and the psychology behind a great night’s sleep.