Read daily. Studies show people that read maintain better memory and cognitive function. Eat a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids (wild salmon, sardines, cod, etc) or take omega 3 supplements as these omega 3’s comprise your brain cells and prevent brain inflammation. Exercise regularly to keep the stress hormone cortisol balanced. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol damage brain cells and increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “What We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Mark Stengler.
Dr. Mark Stengler is a naturopathic medical doctor who is in private practice in Encinitas, CA. He is the co-author of Outside the Box Cancer Therapies; author of more than 30 books, including Prescription for Natural Cures and The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies; and co-host of the popular, nationally syndicated radio show Forever Young. He combines the best of conventional and natural medicine for his patients and followers. Website: www.markstengler.com
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in a rural area where I was actively in multiple sports every year. I became fascinated with how the human body worked as a result of my interest in sports. This included an interest in nutrition, even at a young age.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
At the age of about 17 I had developed severe irritable bowel syndrome, likely from the use of antibiotics for the treatment of chronic acne. I was not able to be helped until friends of the family took me to a Naturopathic Doctor. With changes in diet and specific supplements I had dramatic improvement. This motivated me to pursue the field of holistic or integrative medicine.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My mother was very supportive of my decision to become a Naturopathic Medical Doctor. She supported me 100% in my passion. Before starting medical school my father passed away, and she continued to support my goal without any hesitation. My sisters were also very supportive. They eventually got into the field as holistic practitioners as well.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Early in my practice I had a patient come in with fatigue. I prescribed a very specific diet to help them. The diet did not help much but the patient started taking a multivitamin on their own and they had good improvement. It struck me how adding some simple nutrient supplementation can make such a profound effect.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
There have been many books on natural health I have enjoyed. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine was a key one as it demonstrated the tremendous research behind many natural therapies.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
Focus on truth and do not worry about what others think. When I got into this field many people encouraged me to focus more on conventional medicine such as drugs and surgery. I ignored their advice and followed my passion and what seemed to be the right thing to do.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
Currently I have a new book coming out called Healing The Prostate: The Best Holistic Methods To Treat The Prostate And Other Common Male-Related Conditions. There has not been much published on natural ways to support men’s health with non-drug therapies for common conditions such as prostate enlargement, urination problems, erectile dysfunction, low testosterone, and other male-related conditions. In my 26 years of private practice and research I have been able to put together natural protocols that significantly help these issues.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Read daily. Studies show people that read maintain better memory and cognitive function.
- Eat a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids (wild salmon, sardines, cod, etc) or take omega 3 supplements as these omega 3’s comprise your brain cells and prevent brain inflammation.
- Exercise regularly to keep the stress hormone cortisol balanced. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol damage brain cells and increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
I practice biblical meditation. This is where one reads a section of the bible and meditates on the principal and truths it is teaching and how to apply it in life.
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Make sure to not overeat as this causes physical problems on many levels. I find many patients have the bad habit of eating whether they are hungry or not.
- Find one or two forms of exercise you like and exercise 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. Most people will find their energy, mood, and other health issues will improve after exercising regularly for two weeks.
- Take daily supplements, preferably based on blood work by an integrative doctor.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
People need to realize that historically the recommendations given by our governmental institutions have not been very healthy. Up until recently the Food Pyramid was a disaster. We know that the overconsumption of breads, cereals, pastas, and other carbs contributes greatly to the obesity and diabetes epidemic in our country. A modified Mediterranean diet is very healthy for most people where there are plenty of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, as well as moderate fish and poultry, limited red meat, healthy oils like olive oil, and healthier carbs such as buckwheat, Quinoa, and brown rice.
It is important to realize that the general adult recommendation of a 2000 calorie diet is a recipe for problems for most people who have a desk job. 1500 calories daily with balanced meal planning should be more typical.
Avoiding late evening meals and snacking makes a big difference in one’s health over time.
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Have gratitude every day for what you do have and do not focus on what you do not have.
- Hang around work associated and friends who have positive outlooks, and avoid people who consistently focus on the negative.
- Start your day off by asking yourself who can I help today. I ask myself this question as I am driving to my clinic.
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
A recent meta-analysis on studies examining the effect of facial expressions such as smiling can have beneficial effects on one’s emotional experience. Nicholas A. Coles, Jeff T. Larsen, Heather C. Lench. A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable.. Psychological Bulletin, 2019; DOI: 10.1037/bul0000194
Of course, positive facial expressions help others feel better too.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness?
- Read scripture daily.
- Know that you have a Creator who cares for you.
- Value others and help others when you get nothing in return.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
Being in nature gets us away from air pollution which is so common in urban areas. Being in nature and all its complexity points to a Creator, who also ultimately is responsible for you being created.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
A faster movement towards using integrative and holistic medicine in America will make a profound difference in the American healthcare system and health of Americans.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Mark Cuban, I love watching Shark Tank with my family. I would like to explain to Mr. Cuban the scientific validity and effectiveness of specific integrative and nutritional therapies.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Visit www.markstengler.com for more resources and insights on wellness.
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.