Your Body’s Natural Self-Healing Ability
Our bodies have the amazing capacity for self-healing. We take for granted how our cells, organs, and tissues go about their business of keeping us alive without conscious commands from us. Our lungs take in air, our heart pumps blood throughout our body, our immune system hunts down invaders, cells reproduce and die, and toxic waste is eliminated. Our bodies instinctively know what is needed and what to do to keep us functioning at optimum levels.
So, why aren’t we always in perfect health? It turns out that we create our own barriers to self-healing: poor nutrition, lack of sleep/rest, toxic environments (chemical, physical and emotional). Without the proper supports that fuel our cells and nourish our tissues our body’s systems become stressed, forcing them to overwork and compensate. This causes weak points in our body that become vulnerable to disease and chronic inflammation.
According to Dr. Lissa Rankin, physician and founder of the Whole Health Medical Institute, our bodies are equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that instinctively know how to kill cancer cells, eliminate toxins, fight infections, and remove foreign bodies in order to keep us healthy. It’s when our natural self-repair mechanisms are not provided the support they need to function properly that disease manifests.
How can you better support your body’s healing capacity? Ask yourself – what does my body need right now? How am I supporting my body to heal and be healthy?
It is important to understand how different aspects of our lives directly affect our health. According to the article How your body heals itself by Alan Goldhamer, D.C. (Nov 2015 Center for Nutrition Studies), the more in tune you are with your body and how it works, the better able you are to make the choices necessary to experience optimum health. He describes our body’s requirements for experiencing optimal health as: diet, environment, activity, and psychology.
- Our diet provides the nutrients our body needs to fuel its healing activities. Just like a car needs oil and gas to function properly, our cells need vital nutrients. These nutrients are best acquired through eating whole plant-based foods as close to their natural forms as possible. In their natural forms, fruits, vegetables and whole grains provide the necessary balance of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are easily used by our bodies. (Learn about the healing properties of a plant-based diet by reading our blog articles.)
- Our environment, the physical world we live in (the quality of the air we breath, the amount of toxins in our proximity, sound and visual stimulation), creates or reduces stress that directly impacts our body’s ability to function properly. Our brain, nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are constantly interacting, sending messages throughout your body that changes its chemistry. Scientists have proven that reducing stress in a person’s physical environment can have a huge impact on successful healing outcomes. The areas that have been proven to have the biggest impact are: an increase connection to nature, a strong social support, and an environment that stimulates peace, calm and beauty through visuals, sounds, and lighting.
- Our activity level, creating a balance of movement and rest, is essential in the healing process. Daily exercise, not only stimulates your immune system, but releases anti-inflammatory cytokines that help build and repair muscle tissue and accelerates wound healing through increasing the production of cortisol. Exercise also rebuilds bone and muscle as well as supports healthy blood flow essential for healing.
- Our psychology, or emotional well-being, is directly linked to our healing outcomes. Science is beginning to recognize the important role our thoughts and feelings play in, not only our overall health, but our healing process as well. Chronic stress experienced by holding on to negative emotions such as anger, resentment, and fear upset our body’s hormone balance, negatively impacts the immune system and causes chronic inflammation. Experts have discovered a direct link between repressed anger and hypertension, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders and infections. (Learn more about how your emotions affect healing by reading our blog articles How thoughts and emotions influence your health or Laughter and healing with Verne Varone.)
Holistic healing addresses all parts of an individual – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. It is a way to look at how all parts of a person’s life can be negatively affecting their healing process. Often, when we are sick, our first course of action is to misinterpret the symptoms as the root of the problem. We don’t have time to be inconvenienced with even the simplest of discomforts: the flu, a cold, joint pain, etc. Life is a race, an obstacle course of “to dos”; we must keep going no matter the cost. We reach for that quick fix, that magic pill or surgery, to correct what’s “broken”. So we head straight to the medicine cabinet or the doctor with that first sign of discomfort. We pop a pill, surgically remove that tumor, or insert a stint into that clogged artery in order to make us feel better. These “cures” may resolve the symptoms temporarily and take us out of immediate danger, but they don’t “fix” the true cause of the illness. As a result, although given a slight reprieve, the system breakdown continues, finding a new location to create havoc.
To truly heal, we need to stop and take notice of our whole experience – how our way of life, behaviors, and feelings are affecting our health. It is when we provide our body with the support tools it needs (nutrition, rest, exercise, and emotional support), it can effectively and efficiently do what it does best – keep us healthy.