IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN HEALTH?
by Tom Billings
Question: Can you comment on the one factor that has had the
most profound positive effect on your health (vitamins, minerals, herbs, sprouts, green
drink, exercise, yoga, book, raw foods, fasting, raw fresh juices, etc.) and would you
recommend this to others? - Anonymous
You are asking a very interesting question! Before giving
specific answers, let me introduce the topic. First, health itself has multiple aspects:
the health of body, mind, and spirit. To be truly healthy, one must address all three
aspects. Raw diets deal mostly with the body, and most of the factors you list above in
your question (except for one), deal primarily with the body. Besides diet, factors that
may influence health include: stress, breathing, personal attitudes (positive thinking),
exposure to environmental toxins, your relationships with others, etc. The approach to
spiritual health will depend on whatever spiritual tradition (if any) you prefer.
Also, the road to health - finding healing, and/or
maintaining health, will vary on an individual basis. What works for one, might not be
appropriate for another. Raw diets are wonderful, but they are not for everyone. There is
no specific diet, or approach to health, that is universally the "best" for
every person. There is no "perfect" diet or health system. Instead, we must each
find the approaches that work for us, by study and experimentation.
With the above caveat, let me specify that I will answer your
question from my personal perspective. Needless to say, the answers could be different for
another person. The best way to answer your question is to split health into the aspects
The most important factor to me is a predominantly raw food,
sprout based diet. I also find it helpful (and healthful) to limit the amount of fruit I
eat. After raw diet, herbs (Ayurveda: the traditional Indian system of medicine) are very
helpful and important to me.
Would I recommend a raw diet to others? I would exercise some
discretion in recommending a raw diet to others. Instead of telling people they
"should" or "must" be X% raw, I consider it appropriate to suggest the
1) Most people on the standard Western diet eat too much
cooked/processed food, and many of them may find that their health improves significantly,
if they eat more raw/unprocessed foods.
2) Find the % of raw that serves you best in that it supports
good health, and the diet works for you in practice. (It is in practice that many would-be
"100% raw" people fail.)
3) Raw food diets are not for everyone. Some people may find
that other diets are of more benefit to them (the examples of ketogenic, macrobiotic diets
come to mind immediately). If raw works for you, that is wonderful. If raw does not work
for you, then do not be blinded by dogma - allow yourself the freedom to experiment with
other diets, and find one that does work for you.
I find that a gentle, spiritual hatha yoga practice - asanas
(postures), pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation - is the most helpful. A
regular practice of yoga provides real stress relief, and promotes a "sattvic" -
calm, peaceful, loving - state of mind. In my experience, Integral Yoga is the best style
for me. There are other, more strenuous styles, but gentle works as well or better for
many people. (The gentle style of Integral Yoga is used in the program of Dr. Dean Ornish,
to help reverse heart disease.)
I would recommend yoga to anyone who is able to do it, which
is most people. Who cannot do gentle yoga? The disabled might not be able to do asanas,
but may be able to do pranayama and breathing practices. The severely mentally ill might
not be able to meditate, (e.g., schizophrenics may hear voices when they try to sit in
meditation), although they might be able to imitate asanas (postures).
This will vary according to the spiritual orientation of each
person, so I will not give a specific answer. Instead I would encourage you to explore the
teachings of the spiritual tradition(s) of your choice.