A Life Less Stressed

A Life Less Stressed

The Five Pillars of Health and Wellness

Dr Ron Ehrlich, co-founder of Sydney Holistic Dental Centre and Holistic Health Practitioner with over 35 years of clinical experience is at the forefront of holistic health and connecting our oral health and general overall health. For Dr Ron this is a continuation of a conversation that he wished he could have with each and every patient over the years. This lead to his new book, A Life Less Stressed – the five pillars of health and wellness.

Available in Australia on January 2, 2018, A Life Less Stressed - the five pillars of health and wellness is delivered at a time when life has never been more stressful. The Stress and Wellbeing in Australia Survey 2014, conducted by The Australian Psychological Society, found that 72% of Australians reported that their current stress levels has an impact on their physical health.

In order to solve a problem, we need to understand it. Crucial to our understanding of stress, Dr Ron breaks down the stresses that can affect us in our modern world. He then goes on to identify the five pillars of health" sleep, breathing, nutrition, movement, and thought " that can help us build the physical, mental and emotional resilience to be the best we can be.

Dr Ron Ehrlich said, 'Life has never been more stressful and there is so much that I never get a chance to say to my patients in their dental visits. As a dentist, I have the unique opportunity to regularly observe how my patients' oral and general health progresses over time. A Life Less Stressed has given me the opportunity to provide a holistic guide to those stresses that can wear us down and the simple changes we can make to lead happier, healthier, and more resilient lives."

In the book, Dr Ron also explores why public-health campaigns are often so confusing and contradictory, and what role the food and pharmaceutical industries play in all levels of our healthcare system. He untangles how problems in one part of the body are intimately connected to the whole, and how we as individuals are inextricably linked to our own environment.

'It is no coincidence that chronic degenerative disorders such as cancer, heart disease, autoimmune illnesses, and mental-health conditions are on the rise. But if we want to tackle them, we need to look beyond their symptoms." This is the message of dentist and health advocate Dr Ron Ehrlich.

A Life Less Stressed will help you develop a broader understanding of the challenges we face today, and empower you to take control, build resilience, and be the best you can be.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich is one of Australia's leading holistic health practitioners and educators. He is also one of Australia's leading holistic dentists. Dr. Ron co-founded the Sydney Holistic Dental Centre in 1983, and has developed a patient-centred practice and approach to healthcare. Dr. Ron takes an innovative view of how stress impacts on our health, and includes a unique oral health perspective. He is qualified in nutritional medicine, pain management and, of course, holistic dentistry.

Dr. Ron is a member and former Vice President of the Australasian College on Environmental & Nutritional Medicine (ACNEM) from which he gained his fellowship in 1996. He is also a member of the Australasian Integrative Medical Association (IAMA), the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), the International Headache Society (IHS), and the Australian Dental association.

Dr. Ron is also on the co-founder board member of Nourishing Australia, a not-for- profit organisation dedicated to informing, educating and inspiring people about the critical importance of nourishing our soils, plants, animals, people, communities and ultimately, our planet.

Dr Ron's new podcast, Unstress with Dr Ron Ehrlich is where he will further explore and expand on all the topics covered in A Life Less Stressed: the 5 pillars of health and wellness. Each week he will dive further into the stresses that can compromise our health and the pillars of health that can build us back up, talking with experts in public health policy, all aspects of health, the environment, life, love and so much more.

A Life Less Stressed
Author: Dr. Ron Ehrlich

Interview with Dr. Ron Ehrlich

Question: Why did you decide to write A Life Less Stressed?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: There's so much that I never get a chance to say to my patients in their visits to my dental practice. It's not just about knowing where to start but deciding where to finish, and, in that way, writing this book, which covers such broad issues, has some similarities.

As a dentist, I have a unique opportunity to regularly observe how my patients' oral and general health progresses over many years. I've always tried to provide health information to my patients, either through customised brochures, social media, or recommended health and wellness books, but wanted to convey a more holistic view.

So, in a sense, I've written this book for my patients, as well as all people who feel they are affected by stress. I wanted to share three important aspects to healthcare that have fascinated me, particularly since my own more recent health challenges, now more than ever:

• Holistic health view
• Stress – we are all affected by stress but what do we actually mean by 'stress" and how does it affect us in the modern world
• Exploring how we got into the epidemic of unavoidable diseases, exploring why public health messages have let us down, and the influence of the food and pharmaceutical industries on all levels of healthcare

Above all, I've written this book as a call to action, to empower individuals to take control, build resilience, for us as individuals but also for the planet, and for us all to be the best we can be.

Question: What are the five stress categories?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Emotional stress - While we may not be able to change the world around us, we can certainly change our attitude to the world. This is our most powerful tool. I describe exciting new research that shows our attitude to emotional stress, and how we approach it, has the greatest impact on how that stress affects health. 

Environmental stress - In hunter-gatherer times, this meant a threat from predators such as lions or bears or the shortage of food and water. Today, environmental stress is from chemicals found in food, clothing, furniture and personal care products. It includes electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, air travel, x-ray/CAT scans/MRI, along with the human impact on our climate, land and oceans. Building sustainability into our cities and our rural environment is essential. I outline 10 toxic truths of life in our modern world. Ultimately, we should demand a right not to be poisoned, eliminate fossil fuels, encourage clean, renewable, sustainable energy, eliminate toxins from the food chain, test all chemicals for safety, train scientists to 'first, do no harm", reward industry by buying 'green"; and practise zero waste. Remember: we are all connected, so we are all affected. 

Nutritional stress - From food and fluids we consume. Food has the potential to cause disease but also has the potential to heal. I outline 8 key problems to help you wade through the avalanche of health 'advice", which have the potential to affect our immune system and impact on our physical, mental and emotional health, resulting in the epidemic of chronic degenerative diseases we are experiencing today. These include: our relationship with fat and the demonisation of cholesterol, the use of seed oils and trans fats, too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup and the effect on insulin and leptin, modern yield high gluten grains and the way they are processed, the ethical, environmental and health implications of industrialised meat production, lack of fibre and the gut biome, additives, preservatives, pesticides, the reduction of micronutrients and the demonisation of salt, overconsumption of alcohol. 

Postural stress – our human journey over millions of years has involved movement, from four to two legs. As hunters and gathers we moved to survive. The agricultural and industrial revolutions introduced new, more repetitive movements, but again we needed to move in some way to survive. The technological revolution has all but eliminated the need for movement to survive. While balancing our head on our shoulders poses big enough challenges, we seem to be spending even more time today looking down at our phones, challenging our posture even more. I outline how dental factors affect breathing which results in a head posture that impacts our already-strained upright posture. We now find lack of movement threatening our ability to survive, and when combined with our head looking down at phones, sitting, the way we walk and stand, the position in which we sleep, and even the way we sit on the toilet, it all amounts to what I will define as 'postural stress" which has the ability to compromise your body physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Dental stress – The eyes may be the windows to the soul but the mouth is the gateway to the body and very revealing of health. The oral cavity is the beginning of the digestive and respiratory tracts with the shape and health of the mouth directly impacting on eating and breathing. The mouth is the site of two of the most common infections – tooth decay and gum disease. Because of tooth decay, dentists implant more foreign material into people's bodies than all other health professions combined. It's also the most sensitive part of the body with 30-40% of the body's sensory and motor import occurs in the orofacial region. Its interaction with the autonomic nervous system is significant and often overlooked. 

Question: How does stress impact our bodies?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: When you are stressed lots of things can happen:
Firstly, blood is diverted from the digestion tract to your muscles for the flight or fight reaction that stress brings on. That means, it doesn't matter how well you are eating, what supplements you are taking, you may not be absorbing your nutrients as you should so that puts you behind the eight ball.

When you are stressed, you may also not be sleeping as well as you might and so your hormones levels go out of balance. The Thyroid hormones which is involved in metabolism goes out of balance, cortisol hormone – which is the stress hormone goes through the roof, Ghrelin, the hormone which tells you when you have had enough to eat or to eat more is also compromised. So ghrelin the hormone that tells you when you are hungry goes up when you are tired and stressed.

Leptin the hormone that metabolises fat goes down so your chances of metabolising fat are compromised. As well as insulin levels are affected and insulin resistance is a major problem.

When you are stressed is your Immune system shuts down – instead of taking the time to fight microbes and toxins when you are under stress you fight the immediate danger which you perceive you have so your immune system is compromised.

The other thing that happens when you are stressed and tired and not eating well is that the frontal part of your brain – part about reasoning and logic isn't the most active and more the reptilian part of the brain where reflex action occur takes over, so a lot of your judgements are compromised. There is so much that goes on when you are stressed affecting how well you absorb nutrients and how well you sleep and if you are not sleeping well, you won't make the best of judgements about what you are eating, how you should be exercising or even have enough energy to exercise.

Dental stress is another important factor for anyone that has a mouth, that is interested in their health and hasn't already connected the two. If you not taking oral health and dental stress seriously, you should because your body already does.

It involves digestion, breathing, chronic inflammation, chronic muscular-skeletal pain like chronic tension head-aches, neck aches and tension in muscles throughout the body.

There is a lot there about stress that can compromise your health, your judgement and affect your relationship in getting physical gains

Question: How can we become more resilient to stress?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Setting it as a goal is a good start - building physical, mental and emotional resilience is the key to dealing with our modern world. Being aware of what has the potential to compromise your health is the next step.

Some things are obvious, such as, I'm working too hard...I'm stressed" ....but what about the other things that are less obvious. Today there are lots of things that stress us, physically and mentally... the two are inseparable.

Even on the best diet or supplements, if you're 'emotionally' stressed you won't be absorbing the nutrients. And while we are mentioning nutrients, that's another potential stress. Is your food nutrient-dense or are you consuming 'anti-nutrients' that cause chronic inflammation and imbalances in your body, which are more likely to lead to otherwise preventable diseases. People don't connect food with mood. They should. Bad food can make you depressed or anxious, and do much more.

There are other stressors to consider; like thousands of environmental chemical toxins, daily constant exposure to WiFi radiation, sitting around all day, looking down at your phone or laptop, not exercising, chronic infections or chronic inflammation that doesn't cause you any pain at all but is there and compromising your health, not valuing a consistently good night's sleep, to name but a few.

But at least being aware of what stress means and how it can affect you is an important step to building resilience. It's why I've written this book.

Question: Can you share your five tips to living a less stressed life?

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: 1. Commit to feeling really well, at least once in your life, so that you have something to compare it to
2. Start with valuing getting a consistently good night's sleep - every health measure, physical, mental and emotional is improved.
3. Eat real food, mainly vegetables and include healthy and ethically grown fats and proteins
4. Move regularly throughout the day
5. Practice expressing gratitude on a daily basis.

Interview by Brooke Hunter

A Life Less Stressed
Author: Dr. Ron Ehrlich