Vancouver's health specialists share takes on wholesome living

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      If there’s one thing people tend to take for granted, it’s their health. Yet just like our mothers told us, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in the bank (or how many Instagram followers you have) if you aren’t physically and mentally well.

      Here, some of Vancouver’s leading experts in the health, wellness, and fitness fields weigh in on trends that have staying power and are helping people stay healthy.


      Genetic testing and functional medicine testing

      Functional medicine uses a “systems-biology” approach to health and wellness. To get this concept, consider how everything on Earth is connected, from the forest to the sea. The same can be said of the human body: right down to every last cell, everything is interdependent.

      When there’s a problem in one of the body’s systems, whether it’s immune or digestive, other systems are affected. “This allows us to identify the underlying causes and risk [of disease] instead of chasing symptoms,” says Acubalance Wellness Centre founder Lorne Brown, doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and clinical hypnotherapist. “It also provides a more individualized approach to diet, supplements, and drugs.”

      “This involves hijacking the mind to heal the body,” Brown says, pointing to meditation, hypnosis, “PSYCH-K” (a process that’s said to change subconscious, self-limiting beliefs), and other relaxation techniques. “Science is now able to demystify the mysticism and explain how meditation and other mind-body practices can lead to spontaneous healing and longevity.”


      Body-weight training

      This form of exercise simply involves using your own body weight for various exercises rather than tools like free weights, resistance bands, or Swiss balls. “BWT is easy to do anywhere, with no equipment required,” says Maureen Wilson, founder of Sweat Co., which has been running downtown for more than three decades. “As we always say to our clients, there’s never an excuse for missing workouts while travelling away from home.”


      Naturopathic physician Pushpa Chandra, who recently completed seven marathons in seven days, says herbs like ginseng are natural alternatives to certain pharmaceuticals.

      Pairing nootropics and adaptogens

      Nootropics are chemicals that provide the brain with cognitive benefits. Some are naturally occurring (such as omega-3 fatty acids and certain herbs), while others are synthetic (like Adderall, a combination drug used to treat ADHD). Adaptogens are natural substances, such as ginseng, that are said to help the body adapt to stress.

      “Although these herbs have been around for centuries, they are getting very popularized because of their recognition in traditional use and the efficacy without any side effects,” says Pushpa Chandra, a naturopathic physician and grandmother who recently completed seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. “They’re also an alternative to many pharmaceuticals, such as Adderall. There is a lot of hype about the usage of pharmaceutical nootropics in Silicon Valley, but of course nootropic is coined for a substance with no side effects. Nootropics are compounds that enhance human cognition, including memory, learning, focus, and mood, and are supposed to be with no side effects.

      “Pairing nootropics with adaptogens will nourish your mind, heighten your cognition, and maintain physiological stability in circumstances of change, whether predictable or unpredictable, through adaptation,” she says. “This is the future.”


      Small yoga classes

      If you’ve ever been motivated to attend a yoga session only to have the butt of the person in front of you in their Downward Dog about three inches away from your face, you might have been turned off from the whole practice. “The shift I see in yoga is a return to smaller classes where the instructor is able to modify and offer corrections to suit clients who might otherwise find yoga too challenging,” Wilson says. “The aging population wants to keep moving, and, as fitness professionals, we need to concentrate on making classes accessible for everyone.”