The principles of lifelong health and ageless beauty are identical. Ageless beauty is a natural consequence of a continuous healthy lifestyle which begins with the commencement of life itself, in the womb.
It is during the initial stages of pregnancy that the embryonic cells divide into the three layers that develop to form the body:
- the internal layer, comprising the internal organs
- the middle layer, comprising the muscles and bones
- the external layer, comprising the brain and the skin
The approach adopted in this brief outline to wellbeing is divided into three main parts, based on the three layers of the body. Part four offers a brief guide to cleansing and purifying the three layers of the body.
Part five gives an indication of the vital importance of adopting a philosophical and spiritual approach to life. The final section, part six, provides an illustrative annual exercise programme.
The lifestyle of the mother is of primary importance in building the foundations of the lifelong health of an individual.
For example, a mother who drinks one litre of milk a day throughout pregnancy can expect her child to grow with strong teeth and bones, the benefits of which can be seen for the entire lifetime.
1. THE BODY’S INNER LAYER – THE INTERNAL ORGANS
The health of the internal layer depends primarily on nutrition and secondly on exercise.
This section deals mainly with nutrition.
It is during childhood that the habits of a lifetime are established. It is therefore vital to ensure a healthy lifestyle is adopted in the very first years of life. A healthy, balanced diet needs to be coupled with an abundance of aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
One of the simplest ways of determining a healthy intake of food is to adopt the principles of colour as described in some oriental philosophies.
Variety of colour is an indication of variety of nutritional values. The more colours present, the higher the nutritional content.
Neutral colours such as beige, white, ochre and brown often represent foods rich in carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, maize and flour, and foods rich in second class proteins such as cereals, nuts and legumes.
The various shades of green represent vegetables such as spinach, cauliflower, cabbage etc. while reds and oranges include foods such as carrots, tomatoes, oranges, redcurrants, apricots, water melons and cherries etc.
Other colours such as purple include foods such as aubergines and blackcurrants while yellows include a rich variety of fruits and vegetables such as bananas, papaya, apples, pears pineapples, pumpkin etc.
A healthy diet is reflected in the variety of colours of the food taken in any one day. The daily diet should include at least one food from each colour category.
For example, the neutral shades providing carbohydrates, the green shades, providing vegetables essential for healthy growth and development, along with reds, oranges, yellows and purples, which provide a rich variety of vitamins and essential trace minerals.
If all colour categories are present on a daily basis, then the result will almost certainly be a well balanced diet.
To ensure all the nutrients required by the body are present in the diet, the daily regime should be rotated by introducing different foods from each colour category at least every two to three days.
For example, cauliflower, a green food, should be rotated with another green food, such as cabbage, then spinach, and so on.
Rotation of foods pertaining to each colour category will ensure that over the course of a week the body will receive all the nutrients, including the essential trace minerals, to ensure a healthy, well balanced diet.
This approach to nutrition based on colours is ideal for people with an international lifestyle who frequently travel from one country to another, each with a different cuisine, as it will ensure they maintain a balanced diet wherever they are in the world.
Variety and Quantity
The body produces enzymes to break down food in order to introduce it into the bloodstream. Since each food requires a specific enzyme or group of enzymes, it is better to avoid eating too many different types of food at any one meal as this will prompt a massive production of enzymes that will overload the digestive system.
Similarly, excessive quantities of any one food should be avoided, since the body produces only a certain quantity of enzymes for any one type of food.
However, it is also true that the body adapts to individual eating habits, so people used to eating rice as a staple food will have more enzymes to digest rice than people used to eating other types of staple foods such as pasta or maize.
Constant overloading of the digestive system is extremely harmful to the internal organs, which are forced to overwork, thereby becoming enlarged and risking malfunctioning.
It is essential to keep the internal organs small and ensure they remain within their correct position in the body. Maximum attention should be paid to salt intake, which should be reduced to a minimum, and limited strictly to sea salt only.
If this regime is followed in principle, then there is ample room for minor extravagances, such as sweets, desserts, alcohol, taken with moderation once in a while and for special occasions.
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Nutrition and Lifestyle
The basic daily regime needs to be adapted to the demands of a healthy lifestyle. It was the Romans who first observed that eating large quantities of carbohydrates the evening before battle ensured soldiers performed better on the day of fighting.
This rule has been found to hold true, and carbohydrates should be eaten in large quantities the evening before a day of intense physical exercise, such as skiing or mountaineering.
On the other hand, prior to practising other activities, such as yoga, it is better to eat very little. Allow your body to tell you what you should eat, and when. This may seem whimsical at first, but the body will tell you not only what it needs, but when, and in what quantities.
Listening to the signals sent from the body and responding to them takes time, but it is a language that allows you to enter into communication with your body and will ensure that the psychological factors regulating food consumption and the mind find their proper equilibrium, balancing correct intake with real necessity.
The Roman sayings, ‘You are what you eat’ and ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’ are the quintessence of lifelong health and ageless beauty.
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2. THE BODY’S MIDDLE LAYER – THE BONES AND MUSCLES
The primary factor determining healthy bones and muscles is exercise and this section examines aerobic and anaerobic forms of activity.
Aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise should be practised outdoors wherever possible to ensure proper oxygenation of the blood.
There are two forms of aerobic exercise which should be practiced from childhood. For the purposes of classification, the former is here called static aerobic exercise and the latter dynamic aerobic exercise. Both require only normal respiration, as when sitting.
Static aerobic exercise refers to activities that can be practised indoors or outdoors, and includes yoga, gymnastics, ballet, dancing and swimming.
During childhood as many activities as possible should be practised. This is to take advantage of the enormous flexibility of the body during childhood and to identify the natural preferences of the individual as these should be developed over time.
Yoga is very highly recommended for everyone.
All forms of static aerobic activity enhance and strengthen the body’s framework, namely the bones and muscles, which comprise the middle layer of the body.
Along with correct posture (a straight back, shoulders pulled tightly backwards) the exercises also help to ensure the correct positioning of the internal organs that form the body’s inner layer.
Dynamic forms of aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, skating, cross country skiing and trekking etc. are essential forms of psychical activity and are to be strongly encouraged in childhood, as these forms of activity are to be carried out over an entire lifetime.
Dynamic aerobic activity increases the metabolic rate, massages the heart, boosts blood circulation, adjusts, corrects and maintains blood pressure, heart rate and body weight.
While some form of dynamic aerobic activity should be practised preferably every day or at least three times a week, other forms are ideal for periods of intense body care, such as skiing or trekking, lasting a weekend, a week, or swimming, for a fortnight or even a month.
Each individual needs to identify those activities best suited to him or her, and to prepare a yearly schedule covering daily and weekly regimes combined with intermittent periods of varying duration of other forms of activity.
If these forms of activity are practised in childhood, then they will come naturally and effortlessly. Furthermore, they will be perceived as sources of great pleasure, relaxation and enjoyment.
During adolescence aerobic exercise should constitute at the very least 50% of all exercise. After reaching adulthood, this percentage should gradually be increased and by the age of 30, it should represent between 70%-100% of all activity.
Thereafter, these percentages should be more or less permanently maintained.
Anaerobic exercise includes running and all forms of activity requiring speed. Anaerobic respiration involves the production of adrenalin with subsequent production of lactic acid.
In childhood, anaerobic activities are extremely healthy for the body, but after the age of 30, adrenalin, which is a powerful hormone, is probably more damaging than beneficial to the body, particularly to the heart.
After the age of 30 it is therefore better to practice those activities which require a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic respiration, such as tennis, swimming, trekking, etc.
3 THE BODY’S OUTERMOST LAYER – THE SKIN
A clear, healthy skin depends on diet, exercise and treatment creams.
The skin represents the third and outermost layer of the body and as such is to be treated with the same level of care as the inner and middle layers.
External facial skin care
It is during early adolescent that the skin reveals its tendency to be dry, normal or greasy. In all cases, the skin needs to be properly cleansed and nourished and consultation with a pharmacist or beautician is advisable.
A correct external skin care regime during adolescence ensures familiarity with the vast and often confusing range of products now on the market. All adults, both male and female, need to follow a specific skin care regime.
Internal facial skin care
The key to fresh, elastic skin lies not only in the scrupulous use of cleansers and moisturises, but in maintaining fit, healthy face muscles. For this, yoga is highly recommended.
This fascinating discipline should ideally be practised in early childhood to ensure the body is constantly flexible enough to practice the positions, particularly those exercises using the arms, back and shoulders, as these serve to strengthen and tighten the facial muscles.
Yoga should also be accompanied by other forms of outdoor dynamic aerobic activities to ensure oxygenation of the blood and to increase the circulation of the blood. Swimming, particularly in sea water, is highly recommended, along with cycling and walking.
External body skin care
The skin needs to be cleansed, nourished and moisturised. Oils provide excellent sources of nourishment and hydration. Pour a few drops of oil into hot running bathwater to obtain maximum skin cover. Each skin type reacts differently to different oils.
Olive oil is by far the most nutritious of all oils and is also rich in vitamins, all of which are highly beneficial to the skin. If olive oil remains on the surface of the skin, then other oils, such as almond oil or baby oil, are also highly effective.
To treat cellulite, add 1 kg of sea salt to hot bath water. Repeat daily for 2 weeks. This treatment cannot be combined with oils.
Seawater swimming and thermal waters
Many external skin complaints can be healed quickly and naturally by swimming in the sea or in thermal waters.
Some thermal waters are particularly indicated for healing the skin, while cellulite can be treated very effectively by swimming in the sea and in thermal waters.
Since this form of treatment depends on the length of time spent swimming, it is only suitable for those who can swim at least two-three hours a day.
Internal body skin care
The health of the skin is strongly determined by the health of the whole body. Indeed the skin serves as an indicator of general health and disturbances often point to some medical disorder.
A well balanced, healthy diet is essential to nourish the skin while all forms of aerobic and anaerobic activities serve to keep the muscles underlying the skin strong and healthy. Again, yoga and swimming are both highly recommended.
CLEANSING AND PURIFYING THE BODY
Cleansing and purifying the three layers of the body is an essential aspect of overall wellbeing.
The following provides a brief outline of the main forms of purification:
- The inner layer (internal organs) – Yoga. Spas. Swimming in thermal water/sea water. Fruit juices, sage, garlic, foods belonging to the onion family.
- The middle layer (bones and muscles) – Oxygenation of the blood, increase in metabolic rate – aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
- The outer layer (skin) – cosmetic cleansers, soaps. Spas. Swimming in thermal water /sea water.
- Oral hygiene. It is vital to ensure the teeth are brushed properly in order to protect the gums, which hold the teeth.
- Body weight. Common sense is most often the best guide. Bear in mind that muscle weighs much more than fat in terms of volume. Each individual should set a minimum and a maximum weight, allowing a range of six kilos (+3 -3).
- Clothing: natural fabrics such as silk, linen, cotton and cashmere allow the skin to breathe and are not constraining.
Avoid wearing clothes that will break the natural flow of blood and food in the digestive system. This is much easier for women to follow, as they can simply wear dresses with no strings or belts around the waist.
For men, who have to wear trousers, it will be virtually impossible to apply.
PART FIVE – PHILOSOPHY OF WELLBEING
Nature provides everything to care for the body. To tap its abundance of limitless resources and to derive maximum benefit, one has to enter into harmony with the laws of the natural world.
It is the oriental philosophies that place the greatest emphasis on harmony between man, nature and spirituality, and hence they merit careful consideration.
It is evident that a healthy body relies on the relationship a person establishes with his or her own body, and in precisely the same way in which a child is given food and books, it is likewise necessary to offer the very young an introduction to a lifestyle that follows the principles of the ancient oriental philosophies.
It is up to the individual to decide how much importance to place on his/her body.
PART SIX – BASIC ILLUSTRATIVE PROGRAMME OF ANNUAL EXERCISE.
- Daily activity
- Yoga (static aerobic)
- Cycling or walking (dynamic aerobic)
- Weekly/monthly activity
- Trekking (aerobic amp; anaerobic)
- Tennis (aerobic amp; anaerobic)
- Monthly/two-monthly/ three-monthly
- Swimming in thermal waters at spas
- Summer activity
- Swimming – seawater and thermal centres, preferably one month
- Winter activity
- Cross country skiing – two weeks, not consecutively.