Health is a cornerstone of a mighty nation and citizens that enjoy the benefits of good health help to make a country great.

Celebrate your right to a healthy life this Independence Day!  Health is a cornerstone of a mighty nation and citizens that enjoy the benefits of good health help to make a country great.

            Independence Day is about liberty and the concept of liberty is based on self-ownership---taking responsibility for what you create and support, even when it comes to your health and your body.

            The health of a nation starts with the individual, and you can do your part by becoming informed to make health decisions for yourself.  We change the health of our country one person at a time, beginning with ourselves. 

            In order to become independent in health matters, you must be willing to become conscious of what you are doing.  Being mindless in your daily living is almost certain to create poor health in a country such as ours, where the fast and processed foods are available at every turn.  It takes mindfulness to locate and identify healthful foods.  Disease has become big business much like the foods that create it.  Mindlessness leads us down the path of least resistance.  To become mindful of what you are doing, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I pay attention to what I eat because I realize that the trillions of cells that make up the body are affected by what goes into my mouth?  Cells are constantly dying off and being replaced by new ones.  Is the quality of food you eat that which would produce a healthy cell?

            Do I consciously practice deep breathing?  Shallow breathing starves the body of oxygen and depletes existing oxygen stores, leading to exhaustion and illness. 

Do I think about health, not illness?  Do I see myself as healthy?  Think of any disorder as being temporary and an opportunity to learn.  Don’t claim an illness, making it your identity.  Studies have shown that whatever we identify with, we will hang onto.  Giving it up is like giving up yourself.  Identify with health and those qualities you want.  Learn to observe your thoughts and words.

            Do I drink at least two quarts of pure water daily?  The body is mostly water, and dehydration can contribute to fatigue, hypertension, high blood sugar, etc.  Tea, coffee, and sodas don’t do the trick.  They actually tend to increase dehydration by stimulating the kidneys to excrete more water.  You may be taking medicines for conditions caused by dehydration.

            Do I participate in some form of vigorous exercise such as walking at least three times per week?  Bodies are made to move.  Lack of exercise contributes to illness of all kinds.

            Do I make sure I get adequate sleep and relaxation?  Sleep is when the body recuperates and heals.  Inadequate sleep undoubtedly contributes to many illnesses.  Deep relaxation enables you to listen to your body.  Warnings are usually present before the onset of a serious illness.  Many disorders can be avoided if we pay attention to the body’s signals.             

            Do I find something that helps me have a good laugh at least once daily?  Laughter is proven to change the chemistry of the body in a positive way.  Laughter is an instant vacation.

            Do I know that I am a worthwhile person participating in worthwhile work or activities that contribute to the well being of others as well as my own?  Do I recognize my talents and enjoy putting them to use.  Everyone is talented, and life is better when each of us does our own special thing.

            Do I have a close relationship with someone with whom I can share my feelings?  Each of us needs someone that we know accepts us even in our worst moments.  We need someone to love.  It is in loving someone (human or animal) that helps make us healthy-- not in being loved.

            When I am prescribed a medication, do I always ask questions about side effects and interactions with other medications?  Do I consult with a reliable pharmacist and find out exactly how the drug works?  Only an informed patient can make his/her own decisions.  It is your choice and your consequences, as to what treatments you will accept.  Do I look into non-toxic alternatives?

            Do I keep my own medical records, including a copy of all test results?  This is important because you can compare results from one time to another without counting on busy medical personnel to do it.  Also, in case of an emergency, you have your records without having to wait on someone else to find them.

            When I hear of new drugs, nutrients, herbs, etc that are proving effective for certain disorders, do I find out who ran the tests, under what conditions, and were the researchers connected to the company that stands to profit by the results ?  Am I informed so that I can make my own decisions concerning medications?

            Do I realize that my health is my responsibility?  Like it or not, each one of us is responsible for our own—we are the one who reaps the benefits or consequences of the choices we make.

            Make this Independence Day the day when you start on the road to becoming independently healthy!

(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a