Healthy Utah

Five Pillars of Optimal Health

Sustaining optimal health and wellness, or completely recovering from a catastrophic illness or injury, requires mastery of five domains of physical and mental health: sleep, nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, and perpetual learning.


Coronavirus has captured all of the international, national and local headlines like nothing we have witnessed in our lifetimes. It’s clear that this virus will wreak havoc, especially on those with weak immune systems and underlying medical conditions. There are plenty of “preppers” in the sense of people who have stockpiled food and supplies for cases of emergency, but prepping your immune system for a potential disaster is as much, if not more important.

Prepping your immune system is composed of at least five general areas:

  1. Sleep
  2. Nutrition
  3. Fitness/exercise
  4. Psychological/mindfulness 
  5. Education

In this issue of Utah Stories, we want to show some integrative methods for wellness. When describing something not produced in a chemical factory, often the word “alternative” is used. But how can we call something alternative when it’s been the norm for 3,000 years, and used as the standard in hundreds of regions and cultures the world over?

This issue is dedicated to the idea that we need to update our thinking when it comes to medicine, health and wellness. Western Medicine and medical practices have produced some incredible advances for increasing longevity and treating acute issues, but it’s clear that we are overusing western medicine. The opioid epidemic is just one example. The proliferation of antidepressants is another.

It’s time we better understand the wisdom and knowledge that Shamen have perfected and passed down for thousands of years. It’s time we embrace what indigenous populations all over the world use from nature to treat illness. It’s time we realize that more of what we can use to stay well can be found in nature; in plants, roots, fungi, botanicals, flowers and herbs that certainly offer curative properties that can integrate with any and all treatments that are currently used and often overused in the west. 

Five Pillars of Optimal Health and Wellness

Sustaining optimal health and wellness, or completely recovering from a catastrophic illness or injury, requires mastery of five domains of physical and mental health: sleep, nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, and perpetual learning. Unfortunately, most individuals will never master these domains. And, as I have written before, this level of physical and mental health requires smart consumers. Articles in this year’s wellness issue have been written by some of our local experts. These experts are here to improve our consumer knowledge.

In 2017, I met Jme Bonfiglioli at the Made in Utah Festival. Jme is now my primary source for products and information related to the potential powers of medicinal fungi, including immune function, cardiorespiratory health, caffeine substitutes, and consciousness ignitor, to name a few.

To be a better consumer requires spending time learning from the experts. Dr. Reid Robinson, a physician, psychiatrist, and entrepreneur understands the array of psychedelic substances, and the biological and physical characteristics of these substances, and their responsible clinical application.

Mastering Optimal Physical and Mental Health Takes Discipline

For my part, I have dedicated my life to becoming a master of sleep, nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, and perpetual learning. To be sure, I am repeating the benefits of forty years of training.

Great sleep is the foundation to optimize mental and physical health. It is imperative that we create sleeping environments that support eight to nine hours of restorative sleep, along with positive psychology to quiet the mind. Almost all my patients report poor sleep prior to the onset of their traumatic health diagnosis.

Biological and metabolic sciences reveal significant and unequivocal relationships between nutritional strategies, mental health, longevity, and immune function. Last year I wrote a brief article on food as medicine. 

Maintaining physical fitness is the foundation to everything I achieve. There are a plethora of opportunities to engage in a daily routine of exercise and fitness, including the practice of saunas. Buying into the notion that you do not have the time, money, or the energy for a daily and habitual routine of exercise and fitness is perverse logic.

Some form of meditation is necessary for successful mindfulness practice. Understanding what mindfulness and meditation is (and is not) can be understood relatively easily through books, podcasts, videos, retreats, seminars, and workshops. However, maintaining a meditation practice requires purpose and discipline. Indeed, those who say the hardest part about meditating is finding the time, are the ones who need it most.

Our access to resources of knowledge is unprecedented in human history. However, winnowing the wheat from the chaff requires seeking out and learning from the experts. As Socrates stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Take time to examine your life and make positive changes as needed. Your wellness depends on it.


John Librett, PhD, MPH, is a survivor architect and the Executive Chairman for Survivor Wellness, and founder and CEO for Survivor Healthcare, and Survivor Research.


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