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Holistic Health and Wellness Talks at UWC

Health, holistically: Wellness Talks

“Some people think that health is only about medicine, or only about exercise, or only about nutrition. But in health, synergy matters - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and we’re going to suggest that a holistic model of health is the best approach.”

Those were the words of Professor John Youngberg, a celebrated educator and speaker and - together with his wife, Prof Millie Youngberg - the founder of WIN! (Wellness Integrating Needs). Prof Youngberg was delivering a talk on Wholistic Wellness at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) on Wednesday, 25 February 2015.

Prof Youngberg presented an overview of current (and historical) research on a variety of wellness factors, including exercise, sunshine, forgiveness, social support, appreciation, rest, family time and marriage. Referencing studies from universities and institutes around the world - controlled experiments, longitudinal studies, cohort studies, and more - he showed that the risk of degenerative and catastrophic disease is amazingly reduced when lifestyle changes are made in three dimensions of life - biological, mind/spirit and family relationships.

For example:

  • a Harvard study demonstrated that at least 90% of new diabetic cases in women could be prevented with two simple steps: losing excess body weight and exercising daily.

  • Doctors C.F. Garland and C.A. Baggerly stated that the power of having high levels of Vitamin D in the blood to prevent cancer is greater than the power of cigarette smoking to cause cancer.

  • A ten-year survey of more than 70,000 women found that those who slept 5 or fewer hours a night had a 40% higher rate of having heart attacks than did those who slept 8 hours.

  • Starting at a baseline age of 48, 90% of men who are married will still be alive at age 65 - but only 60% of those unmarried will be alive at age 65.

“The point is that, in order to be comprehensive and holistic, a wellness model must include the various dimensions of a whole person and work toward an integrated synergy touching every aspect of life,” explained Prof Youngberg. “We can’t just exercise and neglect our sleep. And we can’t just get enough sleep if we don’t also consider mental attitudes like forgiveness - of ourselves and others. And forgiveness isn’t as effective without social support - and especially the social support of family. In health, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

And the Youngbergs practice what they preach, especially when it comes to family. Dr Wes Youngberg, Prof Youngberg’s son and director of the Youngberg Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, lent a hand in absentia - a video presentation that explained and explored how to optimise one’s genetic potential to avoid disease and live a healthier, happier life.

“Genes aren’t everything - in fact, many studies show that family history is one of the least important risk factors for a range of diseases. But that doesn’t mean they’re not important, or that we should ignore them. I’m suggesting we pay attention, and do what we can to get the right genes turned on when we want them to be, and turned off when we don’t - that we transform our genetic health.”

The Youngbergs were invited to speak by the University’s School of Natural Medicine (SoNM), where holistic health is a core concept. The School (the only one of its kind in Africa) is home to four disciplines of Natural Medicine – namely Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Naturopathy, Phytotherapy and Unani Tibb - but the disciplines frequently collaborate on health-advancing initiatives.

“A holistic approach to health integrates social, mental and physical aspects,” said Dr George Sedupane, lecturer in phytotherapy at the SoNM and chair of the session. “If we pay attention to the advice presented by our esteemed guests, we can all be winners.”

“They say that the first hundred years is the hardest,” said Prof Youngberg. “My wife is 88. At 82, I’m still a youngster. Hopefully God will bless us with longer lives - and the strength to make the good decisions that will allow that.”

The Win Wellness Talks continue today, with Prof Milly Youngberg discussing how digestive potential can be optimised for health - and also how forgiveness, appreciation, gratitude and love work as wellness factors. So why not come along to the Main Hall Foyer from 13:00 to 16:00 today and learn how to live a little longer - and a lot better?