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By Kathy Gruver, Buzzworthy Blog

Though one of the most basic things our bodies do, total healing is complicated by bio-individuality, our mental states and our environments. I believe we can enhance our healing using mind-body techniques, but we can’t forget the basics. Here are some 10 surefire tips to help you experience ultimate healing:

1. Take Your Vitamins

I believe that, no matter how well we eat, we need to supplement. Get a high-quality, organically, whole-food sourced vitamin and take it daily. Be careful taking B vitamins too late in the day, as they can cause restlessness.

2. Drill Down on Magnesium                      

We hear a lot about calcium in our society, but my favorite mineral is magnesium. We need bunches of minerals; this just happens to be my go-to pick. Magnesium [magnesium link] helps with headaches, muscle aches, menstrual cramps, mood and sleep issues, and constipation. And it’s great for PMS.

3. Cut out Soda

There is no redeeming quality to soda and no health benefit to drinking it. The sweeteners manufacturers use, whether high-fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners like Sucralose or aspartame, are detrimental to our health and may shut down leptin production in the brain, contributing to increased obesity. It keeps us from drinking healthful beverages like water, tricks our brains into thinking we’re getting something nutritious because it’s sweet, and contains a lot of phosphorus.

Phosphorus competes for absorption with calcium and always wins. So it can leech minerals from our bones, contributing to osteoporosis. (And nothing good can come from that.) Get a soda machine to make your own, if you absolutely must have it, but choose all-natural soda-flavoring solutions.

4. Cut out Artificial Sweeteners

Pink, blue or yellow, those packets are not health food. They lead to all sorts of health problems and turn into horrible things in the body, like chlorine and formaldehyde. Most people use them as a diet product, but the problem is they may actually be shutting down the chemical in our brains that tells us when we’re full (leptin). So they actually make us eat more and gain more weight. Use natural sweeteners like stevia, lo han, honey [link to honey] and agave. In moderation, even sugar is better and for you.

5. Read Labels Right

We have labeling laws in the United States, but unfortunately, there are loopholes that big business takes advantage of. For example, I recommend that everyone avoid genetically modified organisms, yet food producers aren’t required to label GMO products as such; eating organic is safe, but everything else can be a GMO without our ever knowing it. Especially avoid processed and packaged corn, soy and cotton products. Those are the three most commonly genetically modified foodstuffs.

Another thing food producers rarely have to mention on their labels is whether a product includes monosodium glutamate. A manufacturer’s use of MSG only has to be labeled if the MSG is 99.9 percent pure. So if MSG is mentioned on the label you know there is a bunch of it. It hides under names like “flavoring,” “seasoning,” and “spices.” Many people have adverse reactions to MSG that include symptoms like breathing issues, headaches, a racing heart and thoughts, sleeplessness, and leg cramps. Learn MSG’s nicknames and avoid all products with these words on their labels.

6. Exercise

We know we need to exercise; it’s great for body, mind and spirit. But the effects are magnified if you are doing something you truly love of your own volition. Someone forcing you into your less-than-favorite activity or exercising out of a sense of guilt will have fewer benefits. Think outside the box. Exercise doesn’t have to be going to a gym or contorting yourself into yoga poses. For exercise, I do hip-hop dancing and flying trapeze workouts. Certainly these aren’t for everyone, but they don’t have to be. They just have to work for me.

7. Check Your Thoughts

It’s estimated we think about 60,000 thoughts per day and that 50,000 of them are negative. Yet, because our brains don’t know the difference between what we are just thinking about or imagining and what we actually perceive, we can be putting ourselves into a stress response with every thought.

Even worse, the more negatively we think, the more we form new connections that make us think negatively. And once a thought enters your mind it’s hard to stop thinking it. This is why I like affirmations. Change your thoughts to positive ones by reminding yourself of the good things.

8. Be Gentle with Yourself

Many people become zealots over their new diets, exercise plans and fitness ideas. And wanting to be healthier is to be applauded. However, when we come at it from a radical, unbalanced perspective, we are just setting ourselves up for failure. I encourage people to set realistic goals and be gentle with themselves as they try to achieve them.

Saying things like “I’ll never have chocolate again” is a tough thing to hold to, and then, when you do have a piece, it often results in self-loathing. I subscribe to the “80-20 rule”: Do the best you can 80 percent of the time, and give yourself a break 20 percent of the time. Maybe you want to take a day off stretching or really want a small piece of cake; or maybe you’re traveling, and all there is to eat is drive-thru fast food. We have to be realistic and kind, the way we would be with a child learning new tasks. Be caring toward yourself.

9. Look for Secondary Gain

It’s hard to admit, but sometimes we are rewarded and praised for being sick or staying in a negative situation. Sometimes, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Don’t misunderstand: I’m not saying we cause our own illnesses or are necessarily keeping ourselves from total healing. But there is sometimes a “secondary gain” from being in a negative state.

Caroline Myss calls it “emotional currency.” If your identity is wrapped-up in being the abused woman or the man with the back pain it’s hard to drop that identity. If we get treated with kindness and special attention when we’re ill, we might unconsciously want to stay in that state longer. If you are having trouble healing, consider whether this is a contributing factor.

10. Go for It

My final tip for better total healing is just to take the leap. Nothing will ever get accomplished if you don’t try. Take the first step toward a healthier lifestyle. Be brave. Be resilient. And be you. Make sure you move forward with kindness and gentleness, but also make sure you are moving forward.

Kathy Gruver Ph.D. is an award-winning author and the host of a national TV show based on her first book, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. She has studied mind/body medicine at the famed Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School and pursued further education at The National Institutes of Health. More information can be found at The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and Kathy Gruver.

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