Integrative Health in Lincoln, NE
While the roots of holistic health can be traced back to ancient Greece, in more recent times it’s an area that’s become widespread and with good reason—many are benefitting from it. Maintaining good health has become increasingly more important, and unfortunately more complicated, with the changes in our environment, lifestyle, and any number of other hazards to be aware of and try to avoid at what seems like every turn. As a society we’ve tried to combat this by embracing integrative health, which focuses on the whole person and makes use of all appropriate best practices to achieve optimal health and healing. Found across the spectrum are a myriad of therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals in a wide variety of specialties, and a host of different professions with the propensity to positively influence outcomes.
With the evident success of this approach, terms have evolved to encompass exactly what integrative health is, particularly in recent years when the most forward progress has been achieved. According to the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, “Many terms have been commonly used to describe this field over the past two decades. Alternative medicine was a term used to express approaches that were separate from conventional medicine. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) then became the preferred term, indicating a broad range of healing philosophies and approaches that were outside of conventional approaches but could be used as stand-alone alternatives or adjunctive approaches to conventional care. Integrative medicine is a newer term that emphasizes the integration of CAM approaches with conventional medicine, and is the term that is preferred by educational and governmental institutions.”
Just as defined, CAM approaches working in unison with conventional medicine is the way to achieve the best possible health and wellness. What’s more, you are likely already engaging in this approach on some level, whether or not you made the conscious decision to do so. Here are a few of the most common ways you could incorporate what are considered to be holistic practices with excellent benefits for health and wellness, courtesy of our local resources!
According to a startling statistic found on NaturalNews.com, 95% of chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies, and lack of physical exercise. So let’s first address the leading three because it’s all about what we put into our bodies–our diet. There are many foods out there with beneficial nutritional content that can help out with any number of ailments, keeping us healthy and properly fueling our bodies. And, unfortunately, there are many that lack any nutritional value whatsoever that we are drawn to because they are “easy” or “delicious”, particularly of the fast food variety. A healthy diet can protect the human body against certain types of diseases, making it a key component in an integrative health approach.
“Eat Fit Go strives to revolutionize the meaning of fast food,” says Natasha Plooster, President of Eat Fit Go Lincoln. “We believe that healthy, nutritious and well-balanced meals should be available on the run. By providing such a convenient nutritious solution, the individual is able to spend more time focusing on the other important pillars of a healthy lifestyle – mental, emotional and physical. At Eat Fit Go, all of our meals are free from preservatives and artificial ingredients. By eating clean natural food, the individual is able to improve the immune system and brain function, essential elements of a healthy lifestyle.
At Eat Fit Go we help clients with a broad spectrum of needs. We have many low carb options that are great for diabetics, our low sodium options help keep the heart healthy, and the clean ingredients we use mean less digestive issues and aches and pains throughout the body. We hope that Eat Fit Go can be a partner for everyone’s healthy lifestyle journey. On the days that making healthy food choices, including controlling portion size and reading food labels, is overwhelming, Eat Fit Go is ready to help!”
Aside from food intake, Plooster also offers the following advice: “Find activities that you can enjoy and really let go of every day stresses in the meantime. Yoga, meditation, or prayer have been proven to reduce stress and create mental clarity. Gardening, going on walks, and even just taking long consistent deep breaths will also help reduce stress. Finally, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of drinking lots of water! The more water you drink, the better your body functions!”
It’s no big secret that obesity is a major epidemic we’re facing as a society, with wide-reaching negative effects on our health and wellness. “Most of the leading killers of Americans are linked to poor diet and obesity,” says Jethro Hopkins, owner of Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers Lincoln location. “The way we eat and what we put into our bodies is killing us. The large amount of time we spend sitting versus the much smaller amount of time we spend active is killing us. Stress is killing us. We seem to live our lives these days racing to death, with so many of our lifestyle choices leading to bad outcomes.
Weight loss is all about lifestyle changes. Think of it this way: If it took you years to get to the point you are at, it will take you time to break your bad habits, establish new good habits in place of those, and put in the work to get to where you need to be. There are plenty of fad diets and programs out there that promise aggressive results, but we remain focused on weight loss at a healthy rate so it stays off long-term.
Likewise, the longer it takes you to address the fact that you’re at an unhealthy weight, the more damage you are doing to yourself by continuing down the same path. The scary part is that it doesn’t take much extra past your ideal body weight for you to experience the nasty side effects.
If overeating is the problem, it’s like any other addiction; the first step to getting healthy is to recognize it as a problem and seek help. Many people have medical issues that are at the source of weight gain, and since all of our plans and treatments are medically supervised, we are uniquely positioned to help those clients too. Furthermore, poor diet can contribute to weight gain without necessarily overeating. Our goal is to teach our clients how to shop so that they are able to lose weight with the items anyone could purchase at a grocery store.
Since weight loss is only successful with a change in behavior, which we all know can be tough, support is a key component. We provide counseling services as a part of our plans to help redirect the habits that you’ve developed over a lifetime that have led to the weight gain, which is just as critical as the food itself.
Because obesity is considered a medical condition and we are physician-guided, with the ability to do testing in-house including bloodwork, EKG, pulse and blood pressure, etc., we often work in partnership with a client’s primary physician. Here’s a good example: For someone who is taking blood pressure medications, the dosage is based on their weight, so if they’re losing weight, that amount will need to be adjusted at certain intervals. Some health insurance plans will even reimburse the cost of our services; we will fill out a medical letter of necessity for the doctor who will in turn submit it to the carrier. This integrative approach allows us to provide the lower-level monitoring in between doctor’s visits for the safety of our clients during the process of losing weight.
The single most important thing a person can do for a happier, healthier life is to do what is necessary to lose weight by changing his or her lifestyle.”
He adds, “For anyone trying to meet a weight loss goal and achieve better health, it’s well worth looking into B12 and B-Complex injections as there are many benefits. They increase your metabolism, help you sleep better, ward against depression, and even help to fight fatigue that comes from too much caffeine. With pills, it takes a while to absorb and the body processes most of the good stuff out of your system, whereas with injections, it goes straight into your bloodstream, bypassing all of that filtering so that most of it is retained and used by the body.”
Supplements are indeed out there in full force, but as with food you should always be careful with what you put into your body. While something might seem to be good for you, that’s not always the case, so a healthy level of skepticism is always advisable. To ensure that you’re doing what’s best for your health, you’ll want to consult with a professional who is knowledgeable about holistic approaches and products, sticking to all-natural ones whenever possible. Herbs & More is a great local resource for anything related to healthy living, with a great selection of products available in-store and will also special order anything they don’t happen to carry.
“At Herbs & More, we offer herbal supplements, vitamins and minerals to help you get and stay healthy,” says Julie Boyd, owner of Herbs & More. “We are happy to help find products that work with your current wellness regimen and any other specific needs. Along with taking a good multi-vitamin and Omega’s for your brain at the bare minimum, to enjoy a fuller life, it’s also recommended to drink lots of water and to take a 10-minute walk, particularly if you need to de-stress or have been sedentary for an extended period of time.”
As previously mentioned, stress greatly contributes to health issues. There are many ways to relieve stress so that you can enjoy better health, particularly exercise and anything that promotes relaxation.
“When we stress out, cortisol (the stress hormone) is released into the blood stream,” explains Erin Lange, LMT, owner of 5 Elements Massage. “That is when we find ourselves hugging our ears with our shoulders, becoming upset over trivial things, or unable to sleep at night. Everything has the potential to rapidly decline into a downward spiral. When you visit a massage therapist, you are trusting that person to help you relieve that stress build-up. With their knowledge of the human body through schooling, they help your body naturally release oxytocin (a calming hormone). With that hormone activated, many are able to once again enjoy the small things in life.
Massage is used in many other ways, whether it’s controlling anxiety or relief after a strenuous day at the gym. (Ever push yourself so much you can’t walk down stairs without complaining?) Human touch is very powerful and can take someone from a pain scale of a high 9-10 down to a much tolerable level of 4-5. In light of this, massage has been used to help with recovery from surgeries, management of depression, and even improvement of neurological damage (depending the cause of the damage). Anyone can benefit from incorporating massage into their lifestyle, and unless a doctor says differently, anyone can receive a massage.
One thing that I emphasize to people is when you add massage into your life, it could reduce your doctor visits up to 20% in a year. I also find myself reiterating that massage isn’t just a once a year pampering session. It is considered a healthy lifestyle change if you add massage to your routine—anywhere from 4-12 times a year is typically best!
Also, there are many types of therapists to choose from, so don’t feel like you have to settle on just one. Explore and find the one that works best for you! Ask questions if you don’t understand something. Most importantly, communicate your needs and wants. You will know when you have found the right massage therapist.”
On the topic of massage, Dennis Varley, LMT, owner of The Body Shoppe, further advises, “Massage has many health benefits for infants and seniors alike. It not only helps with aches and pains from normal everyday life but also with anxiety and depression as previously mentioned, and even helping kids cope with ADHD among many other things. Massage helps with blood flow and circulation, which can help with arthritis in seniors. Massage also helps lower blood pressure and blood sugars for people with diabetes and high blood pressure. We offer a wide range of massage techniques designed to help with any of these issues. Getting regular massage, kind of like going to the gym and working out, is very beneficial. The main problem we see in our society these days is we are all very busy and a lot of people don’t take time for themselves. If in this busy life everyone could just find an hour or two each week for themselves, we could become a more relaxed and healthier society.”
As we find ourselves at work for the majority of our waking hours, it’s only common sense that a wellness component should exist in that space too. Many contemporary workplaces have taken notice of the importance and benefits of offering wellness programs for their employees, with the successful integration of initiatives that promote achieving optimal health.
“Our programs have always been focused on prevention through multiple avenues at work,” explains Katie Tiedemann of Proactive Solutions Healthcare. “The primary focus comes from education by our professional staff on all aspects of living healthy from workplace ergonomics to starting a healthy lifestyle through realistic nutrition and activity custom programs. Since our team is made up of healthcare providers who clinically treat the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, we can directly influence the changes needed in one’s life to prevent these issues. A healthy employee is a more productive employee; this was evident after a recent analysis of our program for a medical manufacturer that showed an 800% increase in productivity for our client.
Our focus at Proactive Solutions Healthcare is directly with the employers in the community. We provide onsite services for them, which may include physical therapy, massage therapy, ergonomic assessment and modifications, prevention and wellness program development and management, and safety protocol. This keeps their employees healthy and safe while being productive at work. On average employees spend 45-60 hours of their week engaged in work activities. I can’t think of a better place to influence the members of our community.”
She adds, “The two key areas we find ourselves addressing most are sedentary work habits (prolonged computer work) and the highly repetitive work (manufacturing or material handling). These two areas show the unbalanced employee who feels the detrimental effects of this work lifestyle. Our interventions focus on counteracting these variables and restoring the balance resulting in a more productive but healthy worker.
After all, the key is balance, whether you are at work or your personal life. This is unique for each individual so you can’t have a one-size-fits-all program as many try to implement. If you have a diverse professional team that can effectively manage a custom program that’s unique to the factors that exist in your workplace, the results will speak for themselves. This is what we do for our clients and practice in our lives. If you can achieve balance you will be happier, healthy and live a better quality life.”
In finding that ideal balance, you’ll also want to establish a good foundation by ensuring that your central body systems are functioning at optimal capacity, which will allow you the maximum benefits from all other efforts.
“Spinal health is one of the most important but overlooked aspects of our wellbeing,” notes Dr. Tara Mohl of Green Chiropractic. “The spine and nervous system hold the key to overall health affecting how we look, feel and move.
At Green Chiropractic we strive to understand the root cause of each patient’s issues. The first step is a thorough evaluation to clarify the state of alignment and posture. With that information, our doctors develop a customized plan of action that includes choices for the patient based on their specific goals to feel better, establishment of prevention strategies and coaching on lifestyle changes that can ensure future success. Thousands of patients who’ve benefited from the care and expertise of Green Chiropractic know that as we age, we don’t have to give up the things we love to do, but can continue to enjoy a full and active life. Better Spine, Better Life!”
She also offers the following advice to reflect upon moving forward: “The first key to living a healthy and holistic lifestyle is self-awareness–to know what you most enjoy from life and hold true to what you are not willing to give up just because you age. Then open the door to exploring what is in your way today, or might be a barrier to the future YOU. Establish a formal plan including specific action steps with support of an expert and follow through. Include the routine practice of periodic spinal adjustments to continue to look, feel and move better. Enrich this with components of wellness including daily movement, good nutrition and healthy thoughts. Seek to spend as much time as possible with others who actively practice this vision of healthy living.”
In closing, consider the following information sourced from the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, which can be found at aihm.org.
“We are all too aware of the staggering economic impact of the most common preventable chronic diseases. Integrative health and medicine focuses on prevention, high-quality partnerships among clinicians, a collaborative relationship between practitioners and patients/clients, and evidence-based therapies that are not only effective, but tend to improve health. These areas of focus may feel merely conceptual within a conventional framework, but they are the driving factors behind the success of an integrative health model. It is important to understand that integrative health is inclusive of conventional care; over 40% of hospitals offer at least some integrative services to inpatients, and integrative services are now becoming normalized in institutional and clinic settings.
It is clear that the appeal of integrative health and medicine to patients is escalating. Use of integrative health and medicine is as high as 90% for certain patient populations in the US and is 38% for all adult Americans. The most common conditions successfully treated are chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, depression/anxiety, cancer, and stress.
Importantly, HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores are higher when patients receive integrative services. In one study, 76.2% of patients who received integrative services for pain in the hospital felt their pain was improved as a result of the integrative therapy. Health-related quality of life was significantly improved for patients who received integrative care. Treatments were also found to reduce blood pressure, decrease anxiety and pain, and increase patient satisfaction in thoracic surgery patients. Additional studies have corroborated the observation of reduced pain and anxiety in inpatients receiving integrative care.
Data from the Bravewell Collaborative demonstrated the efficacy of an integrative approach to health care derived from three sources: research conducted at universities, studies at corporations for employee wellness and pilot projects run by insurers. The research also revealed that significant health benefits can be realized by using three strategies: integrative lifestyle change programs for those with chronic illness, integrative interventions for people with depression and integrative prevention strategies for all.
One diabetes study found that every dollar invested in lifestyle intervention cut $3.50 in medical costs, while a review of more than 120 studies of comprehensive health management programs offered by employers revealed an average 26% reduction in health care costs and an average $5.81 returned for every $1 invested in worksite health promotion initiatives.
Additional research is anticipated to continue to confirm that integrative health and medicine support the triple aim to improve the experience of care, to improve the health of populations, and to reduce the per capita costs of health care.”