What is Health? The word “health” comes from the same root word as “whole” and “holy. Health is being whole. Healing means to become whole again, to be once again restored to completeness, integrity and soundness. It’s a powerful word, often misunderstood, that in its fullness indicates the perfection of nature and the integrity of a system. Life is Health and Health is Life. The ancient self-organizing process we call life is mysterious but easily observed. It is always working towards optimization and perfection. When you get a cut, it is healed. You are made whole again. So the body is self-healing. There is no need for any outside help, it is simply a matter of meeting the needs of the body and it will naturally strive for health. Health is the normal state of the body. Supplying the needs of the body is effortless when we just allow the body itself to take care of it by motivating us in the direction of its need. We get thirsty when there is a need for water. We will not forget to breathe, it simply happens. We will neither forget to eat, because there is a hunger that only the appropriate food will satisfy. When we learn to listen to the body’s signals and respond to them, health is the natural outcome. Also remember that all healthful activities are pleasurable, so we can even enjoy it!
Living Healthy in a Unhealthy World Due to our intelligence, we humans have been able to survive in environments that were not ideal for us, and we have been for a long time. This means we have created the conditions for our survival when they otherwise weren’t present. This could be things like eating meat because there was not enough fruit around and making houses, fires and clothing to protect us from the cold as we moved out of our natural climate, the tropics. This was of course great in many ways, and we are indeed here today because of it, but what now? Today, we are living in a world of our own making to a large degree, and it is not all to our benefit, at least in terms of our health and wellbeing. We have created drugs, artificially stimulating, heavily processed foods and poisons like coffee, alcohol, tea and cigarettes. We have created polluted environments and we are suffering as a result. Essentially, the influences, forces and substances that we are subjected to are not conducive to optimal health and it’s about time we moved forward, not back, to a healthy way of living and provided our bodies with what it needs, not from a cultural perspective, but from a physiological, anatomical and biochemical perspective. Just because humans have been doing something for a long time does not mean that it is the best alternative. Still, it’s a balancing act of allowing the transition to happen naturally, without suppressing our cultural needs completely. Cooking our food for example, allowed us to eat otherwise inedible foods to survive in a harsh environment, but what if we could start thriving instead of just surviving? What if we observed nature and our own bodies (which are one and the same) and actually provided what is needed and avoided what is damaging? Instead of putting on clothes and living inside houses to cope with a cold climate, we could realize that the very need for a tool, like clothing, indicates to us that we are outside our biological niche. The need for cooking to prepare our foods doesn’t make sense. All animals eat a diet that is ideally suited for their bodies, and they also eat it raw as it appears in nature! Surely, there must be a diet that is optimal for us too! There is! We are tropical animals, we are frugivorous animals just like our primate cousins the Bonobo and Chimpanzee. We thrive on a diet of raw fruits and tender vegetables. The raw food diet isn’t a new thing; it’s the most ancient of all diets! We have no way of truly determining our need for, say, iron, protein and calcium, because we do not have a natural way to relate to those things. We relate to banana! We relate to mango, cherimoya, fig and durian! We relate to leaves, stalks, nuts, seeds and various other substances that are foods to us. By getting in touch with our true needs, we can start to provide the conditions for ideal health creation and reach our full potential as human beings, by first paying attention to the often overlooked, human animal.
The Elements of Health There are an infinite number of factors coming together to create life as we know it. Here are some of the most obvious aspects we need to pay attention to.
Air: We have an urgent need for oxygen in our bodies and we have no way of storing it, that’s why we got to breathe continually. There are also electrical properties to air and there is a lot of science indicating that negative ions are indeed an important component of “good air”. Toxic air is air with poisonous gases and/or small particles in it. Things like cigarette smoke, car fumes and dust filled indoor air are toxic to us, which means the body needs expend energy in eliminating the waste. Deficient air is air without its oxygen and/or negative ions. If we stay inside a small space for a long time, we use up the oxygen and the air becomes deficient. The best air is typically ocean air, forest air and mountain air. The worst air is typically city air and indoor air. We need fresh, clean air for optimal health.
Water: We are composed of about 70% water and it is one of the principal needs of the body on a daily basis. For optimal hydration we want to provide most of the water in the form of food. If our foods leave us dehydrated we must question that food as optimal. Fruits and vegetables are typically 60 – 90 % water. The body uses water for various purposes, some of which are nutrient and waste transportation and temperature regulation. Depending on our activity level and current climate our water needs will vary. Higher activity level and/or warmer climate mean higher metabolism and/or more sweating, which in turn means we must replenish the water lost. In a healthy body, drinking according to thirst will suffice. The best water is clean and natural spring water as it appears in nature with no contamination whatsoever. Even in the most pristine environments, the water is not necessarily always clean. As an alternative to spring water, maybe even more reliable, is rural rain water or distilled water. The most important factor is to drink clean water and avoid water that contains chemical pollutants like for example chlorine, fluoride, agricultural poisons, human waste and parasitic microbes.
Food: We eat to build, maintain and fuel or bodies. Our anatomy, physiology and biology dictate a diet where most of our calories come from sweet, tropical fruits. We are frugivores by definition. We are not carnivores like lions are, we are not herbivores like cows are, we are omnivores only by culture, but not by physiology. A fruit based diet is the optimal diet for human health. Does this mean that the ideal would be to live as a strict fruitarian? Maybe! Greens, vegetables, insects, nuts and seeds all fall in the grey zone of the human dietary niche and depending on circumstances may or may not be needed. There are no animals in nature that cook their food. We have to ask ourselves if cooking improves the nutritional value of the food. Sure, if we are in an environment without our natural food, fruit, we could survive by cooking foods that are otherwise not edible. Cooking is a destructive process however, not a constructive one. We damage nutrients and create toxins when we set fire to our food. How can this possibly be beneficial for us today? A raw food diet is the answer. All of nature consumes a raw food diet and has been since the dawn of time. The raw food diet is the most ancient of all diet plans. As it turns out, a raw vegan diet based around ripe fruit with the possible addition of some tender vegetables is the optimal diet. The modern definition of this style of eating would be a High Carb Low Fat Raw Vegan Diet (HCLF) or more specifically 811rv which stands for 80/10/10 raw vegan, referring to the ratio between carbohydrates/protein/fat where carbohydrates in the form of simple sugars predominate. There’s a whole range of nutrients necessary for the optimal functioning of the body, some discovered, some not. We can never “outsmart” nature and provide better nourishment by isolating individual nutrients and trying to meet our nutritional needs by micromanaging our diet. It must be a whole food approach where everything comes in the perfect balance as nature intended. The ideal diet must therefore be a diet of whole foods where all the nutrients come together in concert. To sum it up, our food should be eaten raw, fresh, ripe and whole for optimum nutrition. We are tropical, frugivorous animals and fruits and vegetables are our specie specific diet. For ideal digestion and health, one type of food at the time, eaten when hungry until satisfied will do. Seasonal eating is the norm in nature. Simplicity at the meal, variety over time.
Sleep: Sleep is a physiological state where the body goes into a state of altered consciousness where incoming stimuli and physical activity is reduced to allow for a heightened state of recuperation, rebuilding, reorganization and rest. It is very complex in nature and not simply a state of deep relaxation. Quite on the contrary, some functions of the brain and body are more active during sleep than when awake. Without going into exactly what sleep is and how it works, let’s look briefly at our need for sleep and the role it plays in a healthy lifestyle. If we were living in our natural environment, the tropics, without electricity (lights), we would most certainly go to bed as soon as it gets dark. Our natural sleep hormone, melatonin, is stimulated by the darkness and we grow sleepy eyed and eventually fall asleep. Depending on our activity level the day before, and our overall health and diet, our sleep needs may vary. We may wake up after only 8 hours and feel refreshed, or it might take as much as 12 hours to fully recuperate from the day’s activities. The tropical night lasts for about 12 hours, 10 if you exclude the twilight. Science has proved time and time again that 8 hours is an absolute minimum amount of sleep for optimal brain and body functioning. On average though, most people need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night, and this fits perfectly with the tropical rhythm that we are hormonally hardwired to. Sleep is easily down prioritized due to it being an “unproductive” state that doesn’t go well with our overworked, business orientated society. But as any intelligent human would realize, it’s far from being unproductive. Without it we would not be able to perform anything at all! Sleep is essential to optimal health, so go to bed and sleep enough!
Sunshine: The sun is the original source of energy from the Earth’s perspective. We consume our fuel in the form of carbohydrates and fats mainly – which is the suns energy stored by plants. We literally eat sunlight. But we also need sunshine on our skin, primarily for two reasons. One of them is Vitamin D, which is produced by the body after exposure of the suns UV radiation directly on our skin. If we are too far away from the tropics, there’s a period of the year where the sun is at too low of an angle to stimulate adequate Vitamin D production, this is a problem which is best solved by relocating to the tropics, at least for some months during deep winter. Enjoy sunshine in moderation. The second benefit of sunbathing is that the sun rays actually cleans our skin. In the same way as hospitals use UV to sterilize equipment, an important part of natural hygiene is to expose our naked skin to the sun in order to stay clean. Not only that, but it actually penetrates into our bodies and plays a part in keeping our bloodstream clean and pure. Last but not least, the sun plays an important role in our circadian rhythm, biological clock and hormonal health. We are diurnal animals ideally suited to live in the tropics where the day/night cycle is very steady at around 12/12 hours. Our cousin primates all “go to bed” at dusk and falls asleep naturally under the influence of the hormone melatonin which is stimulated by darkness. Then they sleep for about 9-11 hours before they wake up as the first light of morning appears. Sunlight in our eyes (indirectly) stimulates production of serotonin which gives us that good “all is well” feeling that we love. Sunlight is essential to optimal health.
Movement: Health without fitness is not possible. The body thrives when it’s being used. Animals in a state of nature have to be active in order to find their food, move from place to place etc. Children move a lot, they are indeed exceptional in that regard. However, adults are also designed to enjoy movement, but when we are bogged down by excess weight, pain and disease it’s no wonder we don’t feel like being active. When the other factors of health are in place, like clean eating and enough sleep and rest, moving around becomes a natural joy, not a chore. In our weight loss obsessed society, there tends to be a bit too much focus on movement and exercise. Pushing yourself beyond your ability to recover is never a good thing. Exercising when tired is always a bad idea, and even though the stimulation that results from it might fool you into thinking that it actually gave you energy, plain logic says the opposite is true. However, the body has a large potential for athletic fitness and the limits of “how much” are up to each and every one of us to define for ourselves. As long as it is fun, enjoyable and we are able to recover fully; movement is one of the best things about being healthy. Let’s play!
Rest: Rest is a relative term. If you’re out running, slowing down to a walk will be resting. If you’re walking, standing would be a decrease in activity level and an increase in rest. Sometimes the body prefers to sit down, or even lay down, to rest. It all depends on the situation. It’s important that we listen to our bodies and respond appropriately when it’s demanding rest. Pushing ourselves beyond our ability to recover is never good, and ultimately leads to chronic disease. At times we require more rest, and it’s important to allow for that. Animals in nature never feel guilty for resting. Rest as much as you need. No apology! How much rest? As much as you need… PS! Sleep is of course very restful, but it is classified separately because it is in fact a necessary physiological state in itself, where several activities are going on inside the body, not because we are resting but because we are sleeping, there is a difference.
Community: Humans are social animals, and we thrive as part of a larger community of human beings. We also rely on each other for providing things like food and protection. On a smaller scale we enjoy the community of our family and close friends. The various relationships we have with other human beings throughout our lives enrich our experience and provide us with valuable “nutrients” like communication, physical touch, safety and more. No matter how you look at it, humans seem to be healthiest and happiest when they are around other human beings. This doesn’t mean that we don’t need solitude, because we certainly do, but the knowledge that people are close by is still valuable. On average we need some time alone, some time with our close friends and family and some time with the greater community. As always, balance is the key.
Purpose: Having a purpose in our daily life is important. It’s not so much about “the purpose of life” as it is about working towards worthwhile goals and being engaged in rewarding projects on a daily basis. In nature, animals mostly engage in activities relating to food and sex. This is also a big part of being human, but because of our advanced intelligence we can also enjoy what I call The World of Ideas. We can think about tomorrow, we can plan, we can reminisce, we can enjoy pondering on abstract concepts and we can build whole universes with our minds. This means that in order to be happy, we need not only nourish our body, but also our mind. This is done by cultivating projects and ideas that enrich our lives. It’s about working towards something that we envision. It’s about doing something we love to do. The idea that work only means what you do in order to earn money, is obsolete. Work means whatever you choose to do on a regular basis that has no immediate reward other than your conceptual enjoyment of it. Life simply is, you must give it purpose.
Comfortable temperature: As tropical animals we thrive in temperatures that range from 22 degrees Celsius to about 30 degrees Celsius. Clothing is not optimal as it impedes the natural functioning of the skin and blocks out sunlight and fresh air from contact with our whole body. We must ask ourselves why we need clothing in the first place. It’s obviously because we are not in our natural climate zone. Over the years clothing has also become a cultural element, and in our transition towards a more natural way of living, we should use loose fitting, minimal clothing only and live in places that are conducive to that. Living inside houses and buildings is another thing we do to compensate for the fact that we are not in our ideal climate and temperature. The inside air is never as clean and oxygen rich as outside air. Just like everything else, we want the temperature to be “just right”. The tropics is the only place where we can (potentially) enjoy year round comfortable temperatures.
Barefoot on the earth: We have long existed, as every other animal, barefoot directly on the earth. However, as we moved out of our natural environment in the tropics, there was a need for more protection against rough surfaces and/or cold. To deal with this we created shoes. Shoes, and clothing in general, greatly impede the natural movement of the body and are a great obstacle to natural cleanliness. The earth is negatively charged, the atmosphere is positive. When we stand with bare feet, in contact with the earth surface, we are literally grounded electrically. Just like how you need to have an earth connection for your electrical equipment, your body needs one as well. When you are grounded, you literally “bathing” in the electrical charge of the earth and are thus protected from damaging electromagnetic fields and other radiation. Without going into the science of it too much, it just makes plain sense: The body is a bioelectrical unit, we’ve evolved having our feet in direct contact with the Earth, which is also a bioelectrical unit and we’re born naked = We need to be barefoot for optimal health!
Freedom from poisoning: When the body has to deal with toxins from food, air, water or the environment it has to expend energy in eliminating them. In an effort to conserve energy and health we want to minimize the exposure to all things toxic and damaging to the body. One of the most efficient ways to do this is to eliminate cooked food from the diet. There’s always a certain amount of toxins that the body must deal with, and that’s fine. It’s just a matter of minimizing damage while optimizing conditions.
Freedom from stress: Stress is a natural part of life, but if we are unable to recover from the stress on a daily basis it becomes chronic stress. Again, the key is to conserve the energy for what is beneficial and avoid what is too costly in terms of energy expenditure.
And then there’s so many other things: Hearing birds and insects, emotional stability, quiet surrounding, entertainment, human touch, reproduction, smelling flowers, music, individual freedom and much more!
The information in this article reflects the views and opinions of the author and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. This is not medical advice. We are not responsible for any action you may take based on the information given in this article. For medical advice please see your medical professional.