Question: I am confused about something. I’m reading books on nutrition that indicate all I have to do is to change my diet to dramatically improve my health. But your book Superhealing promotes engaging the body, mind and spirit. Please help me to understand.

Answer: That’s a great question and thank you so much for asking it. I understand your confusion. So let me share with you my experience and why I believe a comprehensive approach to health is the most beneficial.

I became a vegetarian when I was in medical school, and I felt an immediate improvement in my health. And have basically been one throughout my entire adult life. However, I experienced a lot of stress during my residency, and when I began practicing medicine. And I was eating good, healthy food and taking nutritional supplements. But that did not prevent me from developing two serious heart conditions that required hospitalization and medication.

It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to get control over my emotions, and stress, did my health really begin to improve. I began to use a variety of mind body techniques, and became more spiritually aware and oriented in my daily life.

Fortunately, there was also research to document the benefits of these approaches that silenced the doubting aspect of my scientifically trained mind.

My years of experience in the alternative/holistic medicine world, has led to some frustration, which was the stimulus for writing Superhealing. I saw more often than not, and this is not a criticism, but an observation, that many practitioners in this field were very focused on their treatment, which was beneficial, but not as helpful as it could have been, if it was a part of a holistic approach.

Your diet is vitally important/ I devoted a chapter to it in the book. But it is a pillar, and not the foundation of health. Your health can and will improve when you consume healthy, nutrition rich foods. And it will help you to cope with stress to a certain degree, as will regular, moderate exercise. But you will not experience the vibrant health and well-being that is possible, until you actively engage all aspects of your being—your mind and spirit. Meaning in particular, improving your mental/emotional health by managing, detoxifying and uplifting your emotions, and expressing your spirituality, in whatever way you deem right for you.

Do you have a question for me? Send them to Subject line: Ask Dr. Elaine