4 Ways To Truly Redefine Your Health
Wellness is more than a buzz word, today we are all becoming increasingly interested in our health and wellness and striving to constantly improve this. To be truly well, we must look at our health holistically and this is far more than just about the food we eat and what exercise we do. When thinking about redefining wellness so that we can live out best lives, we need to consider:
1. Protecting the planet as an integral part of our wellness routine
When we think of our health, we tend to make choices that will benefit us and us alone. This is part of human nature and don’t get me wrong, looking after ourselves is one of the best investments we can make. But what if we could make healthy choices for ourselves but also protect our planet at the same time? I call this being a “holistic citizen”. An example of this may be your choice of toothbrush. Almost all tooth brushes are plastic. We are meant to change our tooth brush every 3 months or even sooner if we have been unwell or store our toothbrush near a toilet. In Australia, that equates to about 30 million tooth brushes that end up in landfill. An alternative is to use a biodegradable bamboo tooth brush. This will do the right thing by you dental health but also the environment. At Sydney Holistic Dental Centre, we had our own made and are giving them out to our patients. Although this is a very specific example, when making changes to improve your wellbeing, try to think beyond how these changes will benefit you alone.
2. Technology - realise the impacts on stress and our health
There was a time not that long ago when if we received a call after 8pm on our home phones, everyone would go into a state of panic as it was probably an emergency, or, if it wasn’t an emergency, everyone in the household would think the person that called was very rude. Fast forward a decade and we are glued to our phones and technology until all hours of the night. This has enormous health implications particularly around sleep. Ideally, your blood melatonin (your body’s sleep hormone) starts to increase two hours before bed. This allows us to wind down and get into the restful, deep levels of sleep. But, exposure to bright lights and blue light from phones, tablets and laptops trick your brain into thinking that it is day time and lowers your melatonin and you miss out on the many health benefits or this hormone as well as the benefits of deep sleep.
Your bedroom should be dark and you shouldn’t have a digital clock next to your bed with a green light (go for one with an orange light). Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock, or as a sleep monitor. Your phone should be on airplane mode and out of the room. Your bedroom should be an electronic-free zone, this includes TVs. Ensure your bed isn’t placed against a wall that backs onto a power board, fridge or item that produces high levels of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). This EMR can affect the quality of your sleep.
3. Holistic dentistry and overall health - the mouth/body connection
If you think you can be healthy without a healthy mouth... think again. Some pretty important things happen in and around the mouth. Namely, eating, drinking and breathing. If your mouth is healthy and in excellent working function, these vital actions are done far more effectively and set the tone for the rest of your health. Two of the most common diseases known to man, women or child live in the mouth: tooth decay and gum disease. If the hardest substance in the body, tooth enamel, have holes in them, it is scary to think what would be happening elsewhere in the body. Similarly, gum disease is linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, difficulties falling pregnant, pre-mature births and erectile dysfunction. The gums have to be healthy and free from inflammation to reduce your risk of these serious health conditions.
4. Sleeping becomes a priority
Sleep is the most important part of the day and rather than seeing it as a ‘badge of honour’ to get less sleep, it is really important to get good consistent sleep. Sleep is where we build resilience into our immune system so that we can stay healthy, and operate at 100% in our day-to-day activities. Sleep helps to create new cells and repair damaged ones, helps us to make wise dietary choices and improves our mood. Unfortunately, you can’t get all these benefits if your sleep routine is inconsistent and if you are always playing ‘catch up’.
As a dentist, I always talk to my patients about oral hygiene, but I also talk to them about ‘sleep hygiene’. This starts with falling asleep before 10.30pm, avoiding electronics at least 2 hours before bed, getting electronics out of your room, turning your phone on airplane mode, switching your wi-fi off at the switch, avoiding binging on fluids at night (including caffeine), making sure the bedroom is very dark and cool, and trying to get people sleeping on their side or back. These tips can go a long way to getting your sleep on track.