Much has been written about these topics lately. What is wellness? To some it is an absence of pain. To others it’s running five miles a day. For others it’s eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. These could all be good goals for someone’s wellness plan, but to me wellness is much more.

Wellness is a balance and harmony of the body, mind, and spirit utilizing the six essentials of health and wellness and daily living, which are: 1) What you eat; 2) What you drink; 3) How you exercise; 4) How you rest; 5) How you breathe; and 6) What you think.Of these, what you think is the most important because it dictates your decisions and behaviors concerning the other five essentials.

This balance and harmony will change in your lifetime through the aging process. It’s important that you know that there is not one diet that fits all people. A diet that is good for one person, that facilitates good health and longevity could cause another person to develop cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or autoimmune disease.

There are now tests that can map your genetic predisposition to develop certain problems. This genetic expression (epigenetics) however is triggered by your lifestyle, what you are eating and drinking or not eating and drinking. Your blood type and ancestry may play a role. For me personally, I do better on what I call the Caveman Diet and caveman-like activities. I do best when I eat small amounts of lean meats, fish, lots of vegetables, a little fruit, a few nuts and seeds. I do better avoiding grains and dairy. I function better when I perform weight bearing exercises, which causes me to sweat profusely and increases my heart rate. For others, they may do better with a different percentage of carbohydrates and fats and doing yoga or Tai Chi.( I like these too!)

There are many commonalities however. We need a source of good protein and we need to eat colorful, fiber/nutrient dense foods. We need the right kind of oils in our diet. We need whole foods. We need real food. It is a shame but a fact that more Americans will go to bed tonight that have not eaten a fruit or vegetable than Americans who have. We have hundreds of thousands of chemicals today that were not in existence 100 years ago. If you want to be well and flourish, you need real live food every day and pure water. We need to sleep soundly 7 to 8 hours a night, give or take. When we sleep well, our bodies are busy producing hormones and chemicals. (It’s our own pharmacy to help the body heal, repair and mend.) We need to move. We’re designed for motion; not sitting. We need to move every day.

It is amazing to me how many people do not know how to breathe properly or never fully expand their lungs. Your lungs are like a balloon and your diaphragm is the air pump. Place the palm of your hand over your upper abdomen at the lower part of your ribs. Take in a deep breath. Your hand should move away from your body. Exhale deeply, your hand should move toward your spine. It should be moving a couple of inches. If it’s not, you have a serious problem and you need to get it fixed now.

Besides the environmental challenges we face of what is being put in our food, water and air supply, the most important factor in our wellness is what we think. The chemicals our bodies produce are exactly the same and there’s no differentiation between what we are actually experiencing — seeing with our own eyes, hearing with our own ears, feeling with our own hands, feet, and body, smelling with our nose, etc. — and what we imagine; what we are thinking between our ears. Our thoughts produce chemical changes in our bodies instantaneously 24/7. Are your thoughts a help or a hindrance to your wellness? For more information on this, see our Turn on Your Brain, Carolyn Leaf.

As an aging baby boomer (born late in 1955), I am very interested in optimal, functional aging concepts. You know, it’s so funny, when I grew up we had three different age groups of children; my age, two or three years older, and two or three years older than that second group, many times multiple children from the same families from the neighborhood. As I grew up, it seems like I was always looking forward to be able to do what the kids in the next age group were doing. When I was in first grade, I was looking forward to being a third grader. When I was in seventh grade, I was looking forward to being a ninth grader. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was looking forward to being a senior. I couldn’t wait until I could drive, go to college, vote, legally go to a bar, etc. And even though I was involved with activities, academics, sports, and working part-time, I was always looking to the future. Can’t wait until I’m 16, 18, 21, 24 (because my car insurance went down). I always was very active with athletics.

I played college basketball and played competitive rugby for 21 years. I was always working on getting fitter, faster, stronger as I grew up. On the other hand, when I hit the other side of 30, I was concerned that I was losing my speed, strength and endurance as I got older.

It is also interesting to note, as I went back to class reunions from high school, how the aging process affected different people. Clearly, there was a huge difference at 20 years and more so at 30 years. It was interesting to note that there were people at age 38 that looked and acted like old people. And there were others that still looked very youthful, athletic and engaged. Besides obvious physical differences, there was a huge difference in attitude. Those that looked older tended to have an attitude that life had passed them by. On the other hand, those that looked younger had a gusto or enthusiasm for life. They were involved with their work, their family, their community, their church, and they were hopeful and excited about their present and future prospects in life.

Every day I see patients in my office that are on disability that are younger than I am but look older. Most of these patients on disability could have been prevented were it not for a lack of knowledge or perhaps concern and mentoring from a healthcare provider. It’s always amazing to me how many of my diabetic patients have never been told that they didn’t have to be diabetic and have had no education about food choices. Type II diabetes is preventable, and more importantly it is reversible.

What does antiaging mean? Is it plastic surgery or face lifts? It is liposuction? Unfortunately, we are all going to age. Like it or not, we are all going to get older. I think what is most important is how we function as we age. The six essentials to health and wellness help determine how we do in this aging process. To age gracefully and functionally, it is important that we have whole raw fresh foods, pure water, good sleeping patterns, sensible exercise that keeps our core strength and cardiovascular systems tip-top. It does not make sense for me to run on concrete or asphalt for miles and miles and wear out my hip and knee joints. Is that wellness and balance?

Deep breathing exercises,prayer, meditation,visualizations and affirmations are important. The thing that will help you to remain vital and have longevity is a passion and purpose in life and an intention to serve others. Even more important is the guidance by the Spirit towards what your true purpose is.There is no doubt that the appropriate use of nutraceuticals, antioxidants, herbs, and natural hormone therapy will keep you looking, feeling and functioning in a more youthful state.

A new methodology developed at Stanford University is now available by checking our DNA from a saliva specimen. This data can be used to develop specific diets for our optimum health. This information tells us what foods to avoid, what foods to eat, what nutrients we need to take based on our specific genotypes.

Kelly Miller DC NMD* FASA FBAARM* CFDMP*, physician at Hoffman Clinic for Optimal Health.

Call today to get your personalized wellness and functional aging evaluations. 813- 985-1322. Serving Temple Terrace, north Hillsborough County, and the greater Tampa Bay area.

Suggested readings: Holy Bible, 13 Secrets to Optimal Aging by Dr. Kelly Miller; Switch on Your Brain by Carolyn Leaf, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind by Deepak Chopra; Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer.

*There is currently no licensure for Naturopathic Physicians (NMD) in the state of Florida and the Florida Board of Chiropractic Medicine does not currently recognize the credentialing of the Fellowship from the Brazil-American Academy for Aging and Regenerative Medicine (FBAARM), or the Certification in Functional Diagnostic Medicine (CFDMP) from Functional Medicine University.