There are incredible advances being made in modern medicine. CRISPR Gene Editing, for example. Short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, CRISPR makes it possible for us to move genes from any living thing into another one, altering DNA for generations to come. It allows us to cut away genes that are doing terrible things — like those that cause disease — and replace them with segments of DNA that are innocuous. Fascinating right!

Yet, all these new technologies and advances will only ever be able to influence 3-5% of chronic illness, says Deepak Chopra at a recent talk for IIN. The rest comes down to how you live your life. That means that our lifestyle and nutrition choices heavily influence our future health.

I would like to share with you the six most important things (these are not listed in order of importance) you can do to self regulate your body:

  1. Sleep – Besides feeling refreshed and energized, a good night’s sleep without the support of medication, has amazing physiological benefits.  Your endocrine system repairs itself and your immune cells refresh themselves. You literally go through an upgrade and clean-up overnight while you are sleeping. A few tips for a better nights sleep include:
    1. Sleep in a cool, dark room
    2. Avoid stimulants such as alcohol and coffee late at night
    3. Exercise in the morning
    4. Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day
    5. Go to bed before ten
    6. Eat your carbs at dinner
    7. Limit screen usage one hour before bedtime
    8. Create a regular and relaxing bedtime routine
  2. Meditation and Stress Management – meditation is the perfect way to reset your biological clock, regulate your genes and enhance the quality and length of your life. The levels of your genes that affect self- regulation go up and all the genes that cause inflammation go down. The levels of an enzyme called “telomeres” determine how long you live on the genetic clock and go up significantly, as high as 40%, within a week of a daily meditation practice. 

P.S. so many people say to me that they can’t meditate because they can’t quiet their mind. There is a major fallacy here! Thoughts are not the enemy of meditation. Effort is. The thing is, the mind thinks involuntarily, just like the heart beats involuntarily. Trying to give a command to your brain to shut up is as impactful as giving your heart a command to stop beating. It just doesn’t work. And yet this is the criteria at which most people judge themselves as to whether or not they can meditate. Please remember, we meditate to get good at life, not to get good at meditation.  Movement, Yoga, and Pranayama – when you practice yoga and pranayama (breathwork) you stimulate the vagus nerve (vagus is derived from Latin and is related to the English word “vagabond”). The vagus nerve is your tenth cranial nerve that goes from your brain and influences the tone of your voice, your heart rate variability and travels through to your gut. Your heart rate variability is a great indicator of stress and overwhelm. While practising yoga you are stimulating your vagus nerve which helps to calm down the body, your nervous system and supports your body to self regulate and heal the microbiome in your gut. 

3. Emotions – here we are looking at two emotions. The first one is a healthy emotion which is love, compassion, empathy, joy, playfulness, gratitude and equanimity and peace. The opposite is an unhealthy emotion and includes fear, hostility, anger, guilt, shame, depression. Emotions have a huge impact on your health and overall wellness. There was a study done recently where they showed that chronic heart failure patients who kept a gratitude journal every night (focusing on their healthy emotions) were able to keep their inflammation markers under control and their brains changed. There is no drug in the world that can do that. 

4. Nutrition and Nourishment – when you eat a natural diet consisting mostly of plant based foods and that doesn’t contain processed food, you keep your microbiome healthy. Plant based foods have a lot of energy called “phyto chemicals” (chemicals made from the light of the sun). These chemicals give you more natural life force. Changing your diet will change your microbiome which hosts 99% of your genes and within a few days only, you will have a totally different gene expression. 99% of the genetic information in your body will have changed. The more contaminated your food is, the more likely you will have “dysbiosis” which means you have an unhealthy gut microbiome and therefore an unhealthy and inflamed body. 

5. Biological Rhythms and Grounding – we have four kinds of biological rhythms in our body. The first is the circadian rhythm which is a biological rhythm in our body when the earth spins on its own access. The second is a seasonal rhythm as the earth goes around the sun. The third is the lunar rhythm which is the relationship between the sun, moon, stars, and earth to each other. And the fourth is the tidal rhythm which is the ocean tides. All these rhythms are in our body because we are part of the universe. Jet lag, for example is a disruption of your circadian rhythm. You can heal and reset your circadian rhythms by connecting to nature and a process called “grounding”. Grounding is walking on grass or on the beach, barefoot. What happens is, negative ions come from the earth into your body and neutralize the excess free radicals that build up in your body as a result of stress. Every time you “ground” yourself, you decrease inflammation in the body. Get out into nature as often as you can to reconnect to yourself.