As we enter a new decade, I’d like to share some thoughts about health and lifestyle trends which I believe will help us maintain our wellbeing and promote a thriving longevity. We live in an era where self-care and self-health knowledge is encouraged. Though social media and the internet provide a slew of self-health information, albeit inaccurate at times, an environment for independently investigating truths and a mindset to think out-of-the-box, both contributing to societal and individual advancement, have been created. During the last decade, through an increase in number of research on preventative and alternative health, we have begun to prove the efficacy and possibilities of nature cure and naturopathic medicine for wellbeing, longevity and regeneration. As we move into 2020, I believe we will continue to implement most of this knowledge for the betterment of our health, for stress reduction and for up-keeping with the demands of our modern-day high tech society.
Back to the Basics:
We live in a world of dualities, sometimes complimentary and other times seemingly contradictory, with a variety of choices creating extraordinary complexity that impact our health; we yearn for simplicity in our health care and want good health. Most of us believe the more we lead and master our own healthcare through self-prescribing and prevention, the simpler our future health and the more healthier we will be. And in many ways, this modern-day belief system is true, based on the recent research on epigenetics, which states that our environmental exposures and choices play a large role in switching a gene to turn on or off. Perhaps, incorporating some of the basics of the period before the advent of modern day prescription drugs, may be just what we need to turn on the genes we want, turn off the ones we don’t, and promote health, longevity and simplicity. Therefore, my recommendations for re-establishing our health, reducing disease risks and improving quality of our lives during the next decade means going back to the basics.
- Plant-Based Diet:
Our anatomy and its function, for instance, our teeth, mouth, tongue, and digestive tract, most efficiently conform to eating a plant-based whole foods diet. Our awareness of the damaging effects of the Standard American Diet (SAD) with its nutrient-poor and highly processed foods, and its impact on our environment, is forcing us to adopt new ways of growing, preparing and eating foods (1). As we become wiser and more knowledgeable, we are gradually turning to adopting an organic plant-based whole foods diet as the best way to regain not only the health of our planet but of our human species (3, 4). Research shows adoption of plant-based diet improves our health and increases longevity, reducing risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more (2).
- Out with the Keto and Paleo:
Current fads of the keto and paleo diets of the past decade have their benefits of temporarily shifting metabolism and physiology with short term usage of 4-6 weeks. However, their negative effects on insulin resistance, acidity, and inflammation with the use of such diets long-term (greater than 3 months) are beginning to prove to be devastating, increasing chronic disease risk(5). We are learning that a whole foods plant-based diet provides the nourishment our bodies and brains require for healthy metabolism and optimum function in a world that is bombarded with chemical, electromagnetic, and emotional toxins (6).
Fasting, for centuries throughout most religious and cultural practices, has been a method of purification and cleansing for spiritual and physical wellbeing. During the last decade, research focusing on its physiological benefits, its role in metabolic modification, and its ability to extend longevity while reducing heart disease and diabetes risks, has helped us experiment further (7,8, 9, 10) . As we move through the next decade, I believe we will learn even more about the benefits of fasting on wellbeing and disease prevention and treatment, as well as on our happiness; perhaps, implement it more aggressively into our daily routines.
We are beginning to revisit the hot and cold therapies of the ancient cultures, where bathhouses and hot springs were prescribed for the treatment of many kinds of conditions. Hot and cold therapies using various temperatures of water, infrared sauna, cryotherapy, exercise in cold rooms alternating with hot temperature rooms, and other forms of water therapies, possibly are making a comeback as we learn more about the physiological benefits of such therapies (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20).
- Vitamin Infusions:
With the complexity of our lives and the stress it poses on our bodies and gut, along with the recurrent use of pesticides in our foods, antibiotics, and chlorinated water, most of us have damaged guts with an altered microbiome. Such damage results in nutrient malabsorption and systemic inflammation, leading to nutrient-deprived cells which promote disease. Intravenous vitamins, mineral, and amino acids bypass the gut, providing direct access of nutrients to our cells and organs. Direct nutrition to our cells helps calm the inflammation, improves cell function and energy production, and promotes cellular regeneration. Vitamin infusions, providing direct nutrient access to cells for recovery, cell regeneration, detoxification, immune system support, prevention and treatment of certain conditions will be key to helping us keep up with the multitude of information and stressors our environment continuously poses (21, 22, 23, 24) . I believe we will see more consumer direct access to such infusions in a spa-like setting, empowering consumers to take more control of their own health.
- Oxygenation Therapies:
Oxygenation and ozone therapies have been available in Europe for decades. In recent years, such therapies have been gradually making their way to North America. The initial European medical research focusing on understanding the effects of ozone therapy on healing the skin, resolving infections and chronic inflammation, improving memory, strengthening the immune system, stimulating stem cell regeneration, and reducing formation of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer is compelling and exciting (25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30) . As superbugs and their resistance to modern anti-microbial drugs become more prevalent, medicine must turn towards new methods of treatment…and one of those methods, I believe, will be ozone and different forms of oxygen therapies. So keep an eye out for various ozone and oxygenation therapies, also known as bio-oxidative therapies.
- Regenerative Medicine:
During the past decade, a surge of research on a new field of medicine called regenerative medicine has been providing us with information about the healing potentialities of our own cells. We are just at the embryonic stage of learning more about the healing power of our cells, such as platelet-rich plasma, stem cells and exosomes, to regenerate tissue and to fight disease and infections, as well as to slow aging and prevent disease while optimizing function. The possibility of such treatments used routinely by doctors and their availability as home kits, using cells from our saliva, urine, hair, and blood to self-treat, may not be too far away from our future reality.
- Medical Oneness:
For the past decades, our experiments with prescription medications and surgeries on one hand, and with energy medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, quantum physics and the role that the intangible, the unseen plays in healing on the other hand, has created disunity and confusion. Perhaps, we have failed to recognize that none of the medical or healing systems by themselves have one hundred percent answers for every disease and condition. Each has a wisdom. Each has a role in helping heal as well as prevent disease and promote wellbeing. As a result of 25 years of practicing medicine, I have learnt that the integration and balance of each system in a personalized manner for each patient, provides a better outcome than either one alone. I hypothesize that as medicine progresses, a new medical system will evolve, one that combines the best of each, into a “medical oneness”.
Because in essence we are spiritual beings, our draw towards spiritual practices, which unite us, naturally is becoming stronger. Practices involving prayer, elevated and meaningful conversations enlightening our souls and minds, and meditation which allow us to access the mysteries of the world and the source of innovation and advancement, help strengthen our bonds of friendship and unity, bringing us closer together and creating healing (32, 33, 34). Acts of service and giving to others is another form of elevating our spirits while instilling wellbeing into our cells.
- From ME to WE:
Spiritual practices, as mentioned previously, help us move away from the ME era to the WE era as we begin to realize the benefits of working together in unity, and acknowledging the beauty and sacredness of our diversity. With the increasing numbers of interracial marriages, the individual races are gradually dissolving and a new one human race has begun to evolve. Ultimately, at an intuitive level, whether we like it or not, we are moving towards the oneness of our human race. Perhaps, sooner than later, will we recognize that the “world is but one country and humankind its citizens.”
Our Human Destiny
For most of us, our ultimate human destiny is to live a fulfilling life of joyfulness through achieving our potential and feeling connected and at peace with others and ourselves. Perhaps, one approach to achieving such wellbeing, is to become in alignment with nature, through daily practices of getting back to the basics of using plant-based foods, hot and cold waters, oxygen therapies, vitamins and minerals, regenerative therapies, and spirituality as we aim for unity and a more simpler, more balanced lifestyle and optimum wellbeing.