7 Pillars of Good Health + Wellbeing
by DK Kara MD on Jun 14, 2022
Good health is all about education, action, and balance.
But it can be difficult to know where to begin. You've probably heard your whole life that you should eat right, be physically active, and drink water.
And while these are foundational pillars of our health, it's important to understand why they are important along with other pillars that impact how we live and how we feel.
Who is Dr. Kara?
Dr. Kara has 30+ years of experience with patients. After spending the early part of his career treating patients at The Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Kara spent the last several years focusing his work on functional medicine and natural remedies to help people live healthier lives.
In 2017 he created KaraMD, a line of supplements focused on digestive support, heart health and reducing inflammation as the gateway to overall health.
Dr. Kara is considered an authority in the world of health, wellness, and functional medicine.
He was trained with a conventional medical training and internal medicine at one of the largest, most renowned and probably best hospitals in the world: Cleveland Clinic Foundation. He spent a lot of time learning from patients regarding how they were using certain lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise, and natural remedies, to improve their health and address the root cause of many diseases.
Why Is Good Health So Important?
Putting a healthy lifestyle into practice is difficult for many reasons. As Dr. Kara always says, we just weren't built for the 21st century.
Between nutrient-deficient foods, our "always on" lifestyle, toxin exposure, and other factors, it can be hard to live and feel well.
This may be why you find yourself embarking on a new health journey, only to find that it is difficult to implement.
Have you ever skipped the gym because you had a long day at work? Or stopped for fast food because cooking just seems so time consuming? We've all been there.
That's why Dr. Kara has worked with his patients, and his KaraMD customers, to help them understand the 7 pillars of health, why they matter, and how they can be implemented for a holistic lifestyle.
What Are The 7 Pillars of Good Health?
Seven non-intuitive lifestyle tweaks that Dr. Kara preaches to his patients and customers are what he calls the seven pillars of good health.
Now that may seem to be intuitive: you eat better, you’re going to be healthier. The reason it’s not is largely due to something we mentioned earlier, and that's the 21st century food industry.
As an example, let's look at oranges and the vitamin C content of an orange. It’s believed and there’s decent evidence to show that an orange 50 years ago or 40 years ago — when cultivation methods were more natural, ground was cycled pesticides, herbicides were not used — that an orange probably had in the vicinity of 250 to 300 milligrams of vitamin C per orange.
An organically grown orange, moderately for today, is believed to have somewhere in the vicinity of 150 milligrams. So even organically grown oranges are not quite where they were, but they aren't bad. Non- organic, more conventional oranges (i.e. the stuff you get off the normal grocery shelf) is no more than 50 to 60 milligrams.
The non-intuitive part of eating healthy is that a lot of people think that they are eating healthy. Unfortunately, they’re not because they’re buying nutrient-deficient foods.
So, what’s the tweak for that? People have to do their best to go to places like farmers markets where things are growing more naturally. Certainly, buy organically wherever possible, and if you can’t get certified organic, try to avoid products that have been grown with herbicides or pesticides.
And as a general rule of thumb when it comes to diet, try to avoid refined carbohydrates, high-sugar, and high trans-fat items and instead aim to include lean protein sources, fruits and vegetables, unrefined carbohydrates, and "good" fat sources.
The second pillar of health is stress reduction.
Again this seems intuitive. reduce stress and you will do a lot better. It’s relatively obvious, but what most people don't consider is that it’s more important than exercise and some of the other pillars.
Stress reduction is extremely important and second only to nutrition and what food are you putting in your body.
Another non-intuitive part of this is actually quite simple. Going into a period of quiet and silence five times, once or twice a day, whether it be at your desk or in the morning before you go to work or in the evening when you settle down.
Just having a five to 10 minutes of quiet solitude without interference from the outside world can go a long way towards stress reduction. Of course, we have other methods. Yoga is a great method for stress reduction. Exercise can actually be a method for stress reduction. No matter the method, set aside time each day to engage in stress reduction activities.
The third pillar of health is exercise, which is relatively obvious but what’s non-intuitive is that it doesn’t have to be for or a long time.
People think that no pain, no gain. Honestly a 30-minute brisk walk five times per week can go a long way towards making a difference. The benefits of exercise, and there are multiple benefits, is stress reduction. The second is cardiovascular benefit because it’s good for the heart and getting the heart moving. As a muscle, getting the heart to pump more rapidly, for any period of time several times a week is good.
Exercise is also great for bone health. It’s been shown that exercise can reduce osteoporosis. This is a big deal, especially in the more elderly. And of course, muscles themselves. Dr. Kara always say a body at rest stays at rest, a body in motion stays in motion.
Optimize Your Hormones
The fourth pillar, and people always find it interesting, is to optimize your hormones.
This is a mix of conventional and nonconventional medicine. It’s perhaps not as intuitive, because people don’t look at that and think it’s important. In fact, a lot of the conventional medical industry does not pay attention to optimizing hormones, but a part of the aging process occurs when our hormones start to decline.
We are living longer and what Dr. Kara always tells his patients is, if you your hormones start to drop at 40 and your life expectancy is 70. By the time they really drop, you’ve got maybe 10 more years.
But if your hormones start to decline at 35, or 40, and you live into your 90s, which many, many, many people are, well, now you’re looking at a 20-to-30-year period with very low hormones. That’s not very good physically or mentally for that matter. The aging process starts to really, really set in which is why hormone optimization is so important.
The fifth pillar is disease mitigation.
What we mean by disease mitigation is that you should know your numbers, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar being some of the most important but not the only ones to pay attention to.
Many of the diseases we face in the 21st century can be tied back to modifiable risk factors, like high blood pressure, that can be addressed and even changed through lifestyle tweaks, like diet, or the use of medications.
Regularly working with your physician to monitor certain risk factors and adjusting your lifestyle based on the results is crucial for disease mitigation and overall wellbeing.
Water is often overlooked, but it is truly one of the pillars of good health and wellbeing.
Being hydrated is essential for our body to perform even its most basic functions, and when you're dehydrated your body spends less time focusing on other processes (e.g. the metabolic process) and instead starts focusing on basic survival.
Water is essential for waste removal, fat burning, appetite control, muscle function, cognitive health, skin and bone health, and a variety of other functions of the body.
Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day.
The final pillar of health is sleep.
Sleep is just as important to a healthy life as wholesome food, exercise, and a healthy mindset. The average person spends about 30% of their life in this altered state, so it’s worth prioritizing.
Ultimately, sleep is the body's chance to reset and refresh itself. If we don't give the body this chance, or if the chance to reset is interrupted with poor sleep regulation, then our health starts to suffer.
You can improve your sleep habits by limiting technology, aiming for 6-8 hours per night, and even using natural remedies if needed.
What Else Can You Do?
Beyond making these lifestyle tweaks, you can join the KaraMD community.
We have a Facebook page, an Instagram account and a YouTube channel. On the KaraMD website there’s also a lot of great information in our blogs that people can use to improve their health and well-being.
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author