Three golden rules of a wellness program

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Dr. Nizar Saab doesn’t start work at The Chiro Clinic until Monday, but he’s already got a good head start on how to help his clients get healthy and stay that way.

The soon-to-be-local chiropractor is a strong subscriber and advocate of Dr. James Chestnut’s wellness program with its common sense messages to eat well, move well and think well.

“It’s such a simple way to live,” Saab says. “It’s physiology. It has nothing to do with chiropractic or medicine or any sort of health care. It’s human genetics.”

The concept is that humans are really just animals built to move and respond to stress in a wide and wild world. Modern living has retracted many of us away from our common ancestry to the point where we eat processed foods, sit for long periods at desk jobs and don’t know how to deal with the stress in our lives.

Saab had the good fortune to be roommates with Chestnut when they both went to chiropractic school in Toronto.

“He realized that as much as you adjust someone, they’re still missing ingredients to living optimally, living a healthier life. We’re the sickest species on earth. We’re not doing something right.”

That was the impetus for him to develop a set of three golden rules along with a series of very basic tips for anybody and everybody to follow. Saab says that genes haven’t changed in 40,000 years but that human behaviour and the world itself sure have.

The rules start by stating that you should always add sufficiency, not remove deficiency. This means not making your health about deprivation.

People should then judge their health choices about how they feel afterward, not before or during. Lastly, they should look forward to the next choice as another chance to improve.

Some of the health tips will sound pretty familiar to most people – drink water, take in fresh fibre, eat frequent small meals (not fewer, larger meals), and don’t shop for groceries on an empty stomach. Saab also recommends taking omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics, multivitamins and vitamin D supplements every day. If you work at a sedentary job, stand for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes that you sit.

The tips go on to promote physical exercise, both at the beginning of the day and as often as possible throughout the day.

Interestingly, there’s also a section that sounds more psychological. Saab wants people to engage in more positive self-talk and give themselves daily affirmations. He explains that these are still based in physiology and the human stress response.

“What you think will dictate what cortisol level you have,” he stated, referring to the body’s natural stress response. “For example, if I’m stressed out about something this weekend, it’s going to increase my stress hormone. The body perceives that as being in a fight-or-flight situation. It’s no different than me eating bad foods or not moving very much. My body’s in a stress state.”

“Anything that the body perceives as stress increases the cortisol hormone and puts you in a fight-or-flight state. The body’s not designed to deal with that for a prolonged period of time. It’s only designed to deal with it until you get yourself out of that environment and start becoming healthy again.”

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.