We are complex organisms living and interacting in a complex world. We now face unprecedented times, with many people enduring very high levels of stress, loss of control over their lives, loss of livelihoods, increasing food shortages, breakdown in relationships through polarisation and division – and so much more. That’s before you even consider the need to contend with a new virus.
Our health at any point in time is dependent on how our genes express themselves, and that in turn is greatly affected by our internal and external environments. To understand how we can optimise our health, especially during these difficult times, we must recognise the complexity and use a systems approach; one in which we see ourselves as a living system that functions within much bigger social, environmental and, ultimately, ecological systems.
This has been the central tenet of the blueprint for health system sustainability that’s been a core project of ours, the ultimate objective of which is to facilitate a transition to future-fit health systems that put the individual and his or her community at the heart.
>>> Clickhereto find out more about The Great Health System Reset and our blueprint
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Each domain represents a part of our ecological system that can be assessed according to its status or function – and is amenable to change according to what, when and how we eat, how we move, rest, relax, what supplements we take, how we interact with others, and, among other things, what gives our life meaning.
Behavioural and lifestyle changes can have profound effects, many of them being detectable relatively quickly (typically days or weeks) after a change is made – but perhaps influencing whole system health somewhat (typically months) later when multiple systems have come into balance.
This of course brings us into the arena of lifestyle, integrative, nutritional or functional medicine, many of the principles of which have been embodied within long-standing traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
In the table below, we’ve suggested important measures or proxies of function or status for each of the 12 domains. In some cases you’ll see numbered links to references that will give you more information. Our blueprint model provides three levels of assessment (self-assessed, practitioner-guided and biomedical testing), we’ve focused here particularly on the self-assessed measures and proxies as these can be done easily at no additional cost.
The great thing is that if you have less than optimal function in several of your domains (which is very common), you don’t have engage in different interventions for each. Our domains are all inter-connected and the dysfunction we experience is often the result of things we’ve done over many years or specific traumatic events that occurred long ago. We call these ‘upstream’ events or causes – and they often produce a diversity of ‘downstream’ consequences. In lifestyle medicine, we’re much less interested in treating symptoms, and much more interested in changing our pattern of response by changing our behaviour and choices. The 3R approach often applies, in which we look at:
Removing toxins, foods and chemicals to which we’re sensitive or intolerant,
Restoring function to organs, tissues or systems that have been deprived of key nutrients, and,
Repair, where we provide all the resources needed for the body to engage in repair to damaged cells, membranes and tissues.
In our view, among the most important to help bring balance and resilience back to our bodies and minds, are the following:
That you have a no excess fat around your middle (central adiposity), i.e. a waist to height ratio of less than 0.5, as well as low visceral fat and good lean muscle mass to body fat composition
Resolve chronic inflammation and oxidative stress
Achieve good stress tolerance.
>>> ANH Pathfinder members can access generalised interventions and protocols here that aim to rebalance any of the EcoTerrain domains that are less than optimal in function or status.
With surprisingly few upstream changes to your life, be they changes to how you eat, move, relax or sleep, along with continued monitoring of your domain function, you can sort out multiple issues across multiple domains. This might include sorting imbalances in the communities of microbiota in your gut, rebalancing your vagal tone, improving your cognitive function and the quality of your relationships with others – and, of course, improving your immune system resilience so you not only reduce your risk to infectious agents like SARS-CoV-2, regardless of the variant, you also reduce your risk of chronic, degenerative diseases.
This is real, natural medicine – something we haven’t been hearing a lot about on the airwaves of late.