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HOLISTIC HEALTH - September 2018

The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life


by Nancy Russell, M.D.


Plans for a healthier life require several unique ingredients for success. It takes more than making a resolution, more than willpower and more than persistence. In the book The Daniel Plan, authors Rick Warren, D. Min. and functional medicine physicians Mark Hyman, M.D. and Daniel Amen, M.D. present such a plan. It is based on five principles-Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends.

Food intake is very controversial in our world today. Shall I choose to be vegetarian, vegan vegetarian, Paleo, Paleo-keto, ketogenic with intermittent fasting or even others? It can be mind-boggling. In The Daniel Plan, whatever program you lean towards, fill your plate with at least 50 percent vegetables. Vegetables are very underutilized at most American dinner tables. The Plan advises fresh, whole foods instead of processed foods. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables over canned. Drink plenty of filtered water. Cut out sugars, white flour and artificial sweeteners. Stop night time eating and bingeing. “The beauty of adding foods that heal and nourishes and satisfies you deeply is that it will almost effortlessly shift your body and mind into a different state—a state where your cravings are gone, where your willpower is not needed because you naturally crave what makes you thrive and feel good.

Think of food as medicine, that real food has the power to create a healthy life, and exactly what foods you can eat for the most powerful life-giving energy. It is time to have a look at what we have been eating that we thought was food, but isn’t and how to avoid life-robbing, disease-promoting, obesity-inducing food. A 40-day meal plan complete with recipes are included in The Daniel Plan. 

The way to make these incredible changes requires faith and friends. Any life change is more easily mastered with the support of your faith and like-minded friends on your journey. Faith is the foundation of the Daniel Plan. With God’s love, grace and power, your trust in Him is the key to lasting change. What you think determines the way you feel. What you feel determines the way you act. Part of staying focused is being able to develop mastery over the quality of your thoughts. Thoughts can lie. It is often your uninvestigated thoughts that drive depression, anxiety, fear, and overeating that derail progress toward better health. 

Leading health and wellness organizations, such as the American College of Sports Medicine have discovered that moving your body, even just a little bit on a regular basis impacts not only your physical health, but also your intellectual, emotional, social, financial, and spiritual health. We are designed to move. When we are fit, our bodies, minds, and relationships work better, and we have the potential, resilience and strength to be all we were designed to be. Exercise is the best strategy to increase energy, improve muscular strength, tone, and endurance, make you happier, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, look and feel years younger, manage weight and decrease body fat, increase productivity, stimulate creativity, sharpen focus, promote restful sleep, enhance intimacy and relationships, strengthen bones, make you smarter, enhance immune function, increase joint mobility, improve posture, and treat and prevent more than forty chronic diseases. So many advantages!! Just do it!! Move it!!

Decision making is a brain function. One of the most important parts of the focus essential is to know your motivation, or why you must get healthy. You can have solid faith, healthy food choices and plenty of exercise and still sabotage your health. The potential saboteur is your brain as mental health is vital for your overall health. When your brain works right, you work right. When your brain is healthy, your ability to focus increases and leads to better decisions. Discipline your mind to have accurate, honest thoughts and bring your attention each day to those things for which you are grateful. When you consistently focus on your blessings and what you are grateful for each day, it has a positive effect on your physical and mental health. Gratitude even helps your brain work better. 

Lastly, after learning about food, exercise, focus and always remembering your faith, the secret sauce is friends to bring it all together. When it comes to your health, everyone needs a buddy; the word ‘support’ literally means to increase one another’s potential. Consider what your journey toward whole health would be like if you did it in a community.  

Research shows that people getting healthy together lose twice as much weight as those who do it alone. Success increases when you are connected with others, receiving constant encouragement to stay focused and motivated toward your goals.        

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Nancy Russell, M.D. has been a holistic Internal Medicine physician in the Kansas City northland for over 30 years at 5140 N. Antioch Road in Kansas City, MO.


Her phone number is 816-453-5545 and website is where you can get more information. Dr. Russell is board certified in holistic medicine and is a member of the American Holistic Medical Association and a prior board member.

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