Choosing Vibrant Health 101

As a child, when my older sister & I would get into trouble, my parents would sit us down for the much dreaded family talk. Mom would rant and rave about how our friends were responsible for causing us to be in trouble. My father would sit back for a spell, allowing Mom the space to express her disappointment. He didn’t agree with her analysis though, much to my chagrin. Poppy, as I lovingly called him, wanted us to realize our power of choice. He’d often chide us with his ever-familiar chant, “You are responsible for your choices and behavior, not your friends, not your sister. YOU!”

What responsible choices can you make for your optimal health? Our health education should begin while we are young children. We should be not only be taught the importance of brushing our teeth and keeping our wardrobe neat and clean, but basic things, like how to care for our reproductive systems learning proper hygiene practices to prevent infections. We should also recognize indicators that let us know our health needs attention, like the importance of knowing what our urine and stools look like. Is the urine yellow? Are the stools formed? Do they come out easily or with force? All these are indicators. If the urine is yellow or the stools don’t release with ease, it may be as simple as needing adequate hydration, increasing our intake of water throughout the day. Children and adults alike should know the dangers of sodas to quench thirst and the value of water. 

We should all know the value of good nutrition and that we are not going to get it at MacDonald’s or in any other fast food outlet. Fast foods generally have little to no nutritional value. We need to know what our bodies need daily to operate optimally, choosing to eat whole foods like fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and healthy drinks. If you’re a meat eater, choose to eat free range or kosher meats, fish. Please be mindful to avoid or greatly minimize your consumption of the fish that are endangered due to overfishing and overconsumption.

Commercials advertise products like sodas and other sugar–filled soft drinks or sugar-filled breakfast cereals, or pop tarts with the sugar filling, like they are great for you and your child(ren’s) health. However, most of those advertised products are laden with unhealthy additives like yellow, red, and blue dyes, bht (an unhealthy preservative) and more. Children eating these meals daily suffer in school. They’re parents are told they have ADD when their real problem may be that they’re not properly nourished. Their little brains are overwhelmed sending crazy messages to their nervous systems. Inattention, depression, erratic behavior and hyperactivity can all be related to sugar overdose and poor nutrition. Instead of giving them Ritalin,  teach them to drink healthy fluids, avoid sodas, and to minimize their intake of junk food by eating healthy snacks. 

Food alone will not aid us in achieving health. Getting exercise regularly and adequate sleep will not only minimize your stresses but also the stress your child(ren) may be experiencing. Exercise is a great way to clear your mind and curtail mood swings and behavior problems. Remember, setting good health examples for your children is more likely to happen if you exemplify a healthy lifestyle yourself.

If you are experiencing a physical imbalance, and feel the need to go your doctor, It’s important to know that taking medications for every malady is a mistake, a dangerous one.  As a licensed acupuncturist, it’s important to me that my patients receive the best treatments care possible and are also well-informed about their health choices. I can’t tell you how often a patient comes to me telling me that their doctor has them taking this medication or that medication, as if they have no power over what medications they decide to put into their bodies. Unfortunately, the patient usually has little to no idea of the side effects of the medication, leaving their health completely in the hands of a doctor they infrequently visit for 15 minutes per visit. Too often those medications greatly contribute to the symptoms from which they are seeking relief. Always ask questions.

I strive to empower my patients  to take responsibility for their health through health education and research. Too often patients employ the mindset that the physician is the one responsible for their health. Yet, people are dying at unbelievable rates due to iatrogenesis, defined as complications by the medical treatment or procedures of a physician. Please recognize that all prescriptions have side effects! Don’t let those television commercials fool you. Know that pharmaceutical companies often have power over the choices your doctors may make about what medications or surgeries they may prescribe for your condition. Those choices may not always be made in your favor.

When we choose to know how to care for ourselves, we become more involved in illness prevention. However, when we do find that we are ill, we can wisely choose the options available for our healing. Western and eastern medicines should be valued as complimentary to one another. Western medicine can’t be beat for its emergency care and necessary surgeries. The diagnostic value of western medicine can also be very significant. A complimentary medicine, like acupuncture is designed to consider the whole person when treating them. That means, the treatment plan designed for the patient considers them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My acupuncture practice is interested in helping my patients achieve a balanced lifestyle. More often doctors are referring their patients to receive acupuncture for a number of different ills from pain management to congestive heart failure. Take time to consider which of the many options best fits your needs.

A good attitude, healthy emotions, good family and work relationships, and a strong spiritual base are as important as a good meal. Keep unconditional love, forgiveness and gratitude in your treasure chest and give these gifts freely to yourself and others.

A wise person will seek professional help when needed. Choose to be wise about your health choices and those you choose for your family. And, please remember, when we choose to be responsible for our health, we also choose to do no harm to others, and that includes our environment!

Tune into  “Treasured Health Gems,” health segment on KPFA, 94.1FM on “Transitions on Traditions,” scheduled to air on the last Monday monthly.

Want to make an acupuncture appointment and live in the bay area? You can find Dafina practicing her medicine in Berkeley.Email her at Visit her website:

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