Today I am sharing with you a guest post from Lori from Our Heritage of Health. If you haven’t been by her site, head on over and take a look. Lori shares tons of great, practical healthy living tips, as well as fun old-fashioned notions of all sorts.
Are We Overcomplicating Our Health?
“The best six doctors anywhere and no one can deny it are sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise, and diet” ~ Wayne Fields
When I came across this quote the other day, I was struck by the simplicity of it. In our modern age, it has become very easy to over-think our health. We have so much information available to us in the form of books, magazine, television, and, of course, the endless online world of the Internet. We can read study after study analyzing a particular food that we either should or shouldn’t be eating, and we can easily become lost in the confusion of conflicting advice about what is best for our health.
Those who lived in past centuries, though, had a much simpler view of health. They didn’t have access to the massive amount of information that we have today. Most of their knowledge about health was rooted in tradition and common sense advice that was passed down through the generations from the wisdom of those who had lived before them. They used the six “doctors” mentioned in the quotation above as simple ways to maintain good health.
Sunshine gives us light and warmth and happiness. There’s nothing quite so pleasant as spending time outside on a warm, sunny day. While it’s possible to overdo it and get too much exposure to the sun, the sun isn’t something we need to be afraid of either. Sunshine, in moderation, can allow our bodies to make Vitamin D, it can help to regulate our melatonin levels and circadian rhythms for better sleep, and it can uplift our moods and brighten our spirits.
Water is an essential part of all plant, animal, and human life. We can’t live without it! It doesn’t get much simpler than water, and nothing is as refreshing on a hot summer day as a glass of cool, pure water. And quenching our thirst isn’t the only way that water is beneficial to our health either. Swimming is a relaxing, enjoyable way to get some exercise outdoors, and, in the salt water of the ocean, it’s even a way to absorb some of the beneficial minerals in the water too.
Rest is one of the most important but often one of the most neglected ways that we can improve our health. Sleep is the time when our bodies are able to repair themselves, and getting enough sleep benefits virtually every one of the body’s systems, and yet it’s so easy to forget the importance of a good night of sleep. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of staying up late in order to be more productive when, in reality, getting enough rest is really the most productive thing we can do for our health!
Air is a necessity for life, of course, but the quality of the air we breathe can make a big impact on our health. There are lots of simple, old-fashioned things we can do to make sure that the air we breathe is fresh and pure – things like spending time outside, opening windows to let in a refreshing breeze, using natural cleaners instead of chemical ones, and keeping plants in our homes to filter toxins and increase oxygen levels.
The health benefits of exercise are numerous, but it is often viewed as a drudgery that needs to be endured for the sake of good health. It doesn’t need to be that way, though! Just think back to your childhood and the natural joy you found in playing and running around outside. One of my favorite way to exercise is to take my dog on a long walk around my neighborhood. Walking your dog or playing with your kids outside is a simple and fun way to combine the benefits of exercising, sunshine, and fresh air all at the same time.
Of all of the aspects of health, diet is probably the one that causes the most confusion and controversy. Our ancestors didn’t spend hours upon hours researching about their food, though, and they didn’t have “nutrition facts” labels to study either. Their focus was on eating real foods that were fresh, grown locally, and organic (because all food was organic before the creation of modern pesticides!) and on preparing nourishing meals themselves in their own kitchens without modern food processing and additives.
These six, simple things don’t require hours of research or any special knowledge. While I believe that it is always good to learn as much as possible about food and nutrition and health, I also realize how easy it is to go too far and overanalyze every little detail about a particular food or aspect of health. Whenever I find myself making health more complicated than it needs to be, I try to take a step back and return to the simplicity of sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise, and diet that kept people healthy for generations before us.