The body is a marvelous and dynamic organism that is constantly seeking to achieve balance. Even if we have found balance in one moment, the very next moment can bring with it the need to re-balance yet again. This is what I consider the gift of being alive – the joy of being in a physical body.

When seeking balance, I have found both ancient and modern systems of healing and nutrition to be of equal value. This has allowed me to create an integrative approach that pulls from the wisdom of many traditions without being attached to one way. These five principles are a distillation from various healing disciplines that can be used to find solutions for creating optimum health.

1. Yin/Yang Balance

This is based on the concept of yin and yang, the opposing forces described in ancient Asian traditions. Everything in the world has some properties of yin and yang, but in varying proportions.

Yin energy is light, expansive, watery, soft, receptive, cold and plant-like in nature. Yang energy is heavy, contracting, dry, hard, active, hot and more animal. The terms expansive and contractive can be used to explain the yin and yang energy of the food we eat.

Some foods, like sugar and alcohol, are examples of foods that are way too expansive for your body. Your blood stream quickly absorbs sugar and produces energy, making you feel temporarily open and relaxed. The problem is these foods are damaging as they are not balanced.

Other foods, like excessive and poor-quality salt and animal products, are more contractive and cause your cells to constrict and lose fluids, making you feel tight. They can be especially contractive when eaten without expansive fresh vegetables.

Because your body is always seeking balance, if you eat too much salt, your body becomes too contractive and you will soon find yourself craving something sweet. When this principle is not understood on a conscious level, you may unknowingly create imbalance in a vicious cycle of cravings.

Each individual can tolerate a small level of extreme foods in the diet, but if these foods become an everyday occurrence the yo-yo diet is in effect. The yo-yo diet is an exhausting process where you bounce back and forth between extremes as your body frantically tries to maintain balance.

The ideal is to find a diet that can bring you towards the center. The less you expose your body to extremes, the more time you will have in a balanced state. A state devoid of cravings Blood balance and blood sugar swings. Eating less processed foods and more whole, organic foods is a great place to start connecting to true health.

2. Acid vs. Alkaline

To maintain health, your blood must be slightly alkaline. The foods we eat and the lifestyle choices we make impact our body’s ability to maintain that alkaline state.

Foods can be alkaline, acidic or neutral in your body. For optimum health your goal would be to have a balance of alkaline and acidic foods so that you can maintain the alkaline state of your blood. If you get out of balance and your blood becomes too acidic, you become more susceptible to illness and disease.

In addition, lifestyle choices like stress, inadequate water intake, taking prescription drugs, low mineral intake and not getting enough sleep can create acidic blood. Paying attention to a balanced lifestyle is just as important to your health and longevity.

Most of people are too acidic and need to aim for getting as many vegetables as possible into each meal and snack, as most vegetables (especially raw) are highly alkaline. Be sure to drink purified water throughout the day, manage stress, and give your body enough time to sleep (between 7 and 9 hours a night on average).

3. Bio-individuality

As humans, we share so many similarities with one another, yet each body is very unique. Each of us is an experiment of one and consequently, you may need to modify certain elements of any diet or lifestyle to suit your own individuality. It is important to begin to really listen to your body and what it wants. But remember that if the yin/yang balance is off, cravings may fool you!

While a health professional may recommend a specific protocol for restoring balance in the body, it is vital to observe your body’s reactions and assess whether this new path is bringing you back towards balance. The best way I have found to do this is to keep a food-mood log in which you can keep track of how your foods affect your mood and vice versa.

4. Cleansing

Did you know that your body cleanses every day? Through elimination, urine, tears, and sweat, your body rids itself of toxins that would otherwise build up and could lead to sickness and disease. Fevers, colds and skin eruptions are actually a natural part of the cleansing process and should not be suppressed. Cleansing allows your body to restore balance and occurs when imbalance is so great that it threatens life.

If you start on a cleansing program, you may experience cleansing reactions and feel worse than you feel now. Do not throw in the towel – this is your body’s way of getting rid of the bad and making room for the good. Just be sure to drink plenty of water and get adequate rest when you need it. It is important to support all channels of elimination for a complete and effective cleansing experience. Often when an intensely negative experience is had, the cleanser has focused only one or two aspects.

To properly and safely cleanse the body, it is best to seek the assistance of a qualified health and nutrition counselor.

5. Small Changes Over Time

Just as it takes time to get out of balance, it also takes time to come back into balance. You cannot expect instant results when working towards lasting changes. By making small, consistent changes over time you give your body the foundation it needs to support optimal, long-term health and vitality.

Starting any new program is about creating new habits. It takes time and effort, which can sometimes feel difficult.

The key is to take everything step-by-step and get support. Incorporate one principle (or even one element of a principle) at a time so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. Take care of yourself by going at the pace that feels right to you and keep listening to your body. However small that step may feel, I encourage you to take that step today!

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