Dr. Northrup’s 7 Building Blocks of Health

All You Need to Stay Healthy for Life

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Building Blocks of Health

Health is your body’s natural state. I have spent decades on the front lines of health teaching women (and men) the truth––that each and every person has the ability to achieve health and live a vibrant and fulfilling life free from disease and inevitable decline.

Yet, with the media- and government-induced fearmongering that is occurring, it’s more important than ever that you have the building blocks you need to create vibrant health.

So, here are my 7 Building Blocks of Health and how you can use them every day to create vibrant health:

Building Block 1: Health Wisdom 

The term health wisdom is simply the ability to listen to your body and trust what it is telling you. I also like to call it inner guidance or intuition, and it’s really about reading your own energy field. You can practice reading your energy field by simply tuning in to your emotions and noticing how different emotions emit different energy. For example, chronic fear or anger creates an entirely different energy field than joy and happiness. When the difficult emotions outweigh the positive and are held the longest (most of the time this is unconscious), they can settle into your body in the form of symptoms or illnesses.

Tapping into and learning to trust your body’s wisdom is a lifelong process. Often, the more educated someone is, the harder it is for them to trust their intuition. But everyone has the ability. Like anything else, it just takes practice.

At first, your inner wisdom may come to you in hindsight. For example, you may notice you get a headache whenever someone asks you to do something you do not want to do. After a while, you will begin to associate the task (or the person) with your headaches. Then, you will begin to make decisions that support your health, such as saying “no,” shortening the amount of time you spend with the person, or performing the task you dislike before symptoms develop. Your inner guidance can also come in the form of dreams. 

Here are my 4 Steps to develop your inner guidance every day:

  1. Do a body scan. One way to begin tapping into your inner wisdom is to perform body scans when someone asks you to do something. Notice what you feel. Do you feel tension or have a gut reaction? Does your body say “yes, this will be fun” or “no, this will be draining”? If you’re not sure, tell the person asking that you’ll get back to them. Stop the knee-jerk “yes.”
  2. Acknowledge your feelings. Taking notice of what you are feeling throughout the day without passing judgment is a great way to tap in to your inner guidance. If you feel negative emotions, try to identify the source. Ask yourself what you need in order to get your energy flowing in a positive direction. Then, state your need out loud. Affirm that you have the power within you to get what you want.
  3. Keep a journal. Begin to notice and write down everything that contributes to positive energy flow and that replenishes you. This will help you draw more of those experiences toward you.
  4. Practice gratitude. Appreciating the blessings in your life will help to expand them. Simply direct your attention toward the thoughts, emotions, and circumstances that feel good.

Building Block 2: Nutrition

Our bodies function at their best when we supply them with high-quality food. On the most basic level, optimal nourishment involves eating the right amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates (macronutrients) and getting enough vitamins and minerals through food and supplements (micronutrients). You will be more likely to maintain a desirable body composition, ideal microbiome, and vibrant health if you understand that your body’s metabolic processes are also influenced by your emotional state (including past and present stressors), genetic heritage, exercise habits, environment, and food chi (energy).

There are many ways of eating today. Whether you follow a popular eating plan such as paleo, vegan, vegetarian, pegan, PlantPlus, keto, or something else, you can apply my 6 basic ground rules for eating to flourish:

  1. Avoid sugar. Too many refined carbohydrates, which include all processed white foods, set you up for unstable blood sugar levels, weight gain, and inflammation. Keeping your blood sugar stable through good nutrition will help you maintain a healthy weight. It will also help to prevent or reverse diseases associated with cellular inflammation, which is almost every chronic disease plaguing our society today––including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, obesity, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Eat the rainbow. Fruits and vegetables should make up the largest portion of your plate. If you have a lot of color on your plate, you are on the right path, because foods with deep pigments have antioxidants. Particularly potent super foods are parsley, cilantro, beets, and radishes. These alone will upgrade your microbiome.
  3. Get adequate protein. Everyone needs protein to help their body build new cells and function properly. Protein may also help you feel fuller, so it may prevent overeating. Good sources of protein include organic eggs, fish, lean meat, and full-fat dairy. Vegetarian proteins include whole, non-GMO soy; beans; lentils; chick peas; nuts; seeds; spirulina; broccoli; and kale; plus many others.
  4. Consume healthy fats. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats contain essential fatty acids (EFAs) that are needed to assist the body in many important functions, including those of the brain and nervous system. Good sources of EFAs include eggs, high-quality flax seeds, soy, walnuts, and wild-harvested cold-water fish.
  5. Hydrate properly. Water is an essential component of every cell in your body. You need to be properly hydrated to maintain a normal body temperature and metabolism. Drinking water is important, but that water needs some electrolytes to make it more hydrating. A pinch of Himalayan sea salt in water or a tablespoon of chia seeds in 16 ounces of water will make that water far more hydrating. Gel water from plants is also more hydrating than plain water and more apt to get to the right places in the body, including your cerebrospinal fluid, your bloodstream, your gut lining, your respiratory system, and your fascia.
  6. Eat mindfully. Mindful eating is the practice of deliberately noticing every sense associated with eating while leaving your emotions out of the experience. This rewires the brain and, over time, helps to restore your intuition around eating. It also reduces stress and creates a more positive relationship with food. This contributes to your enjoyment and to your overall well-being.

Building Block 3: Movement

The benefits of regular, moderate exercise are almost innumerable, including healthy immune function, lower risk of chronic disease (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and many others), less depression and anxiety, better sleep, and so much more. And repetitive movement increases the alpha waves in your brain, which are associated with greater intuition. The most important thing to remember when it comes to exercise is to move your body every day in ways that feel good to you. Soon you will learn to enjoy exercise.

Here are the 4 fundamentals of exercise that I recommend you include in your routine:

  1. Aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise keeps your heart and lungs strong and may help burn excess fat. Try to get your heart rate into your “target zone” for 15–20 minutes. You can use a heart rate monitor such as FitBit, Apple Watch, Whoop Strap, or a similar device. Or simply apply the following formula:
  2. Strength training. Studies show that as we get older, we create about 1.5 pounds of fat per year if we don’t build muscle. In fact, we lose about 0.5 pound of muscle per year if we don’t exercise. In other words, muscle loss results in fat gain. Weight-bearing exercises help you to increase the amount of muscle mass in the body relative to fat. Strength training also helps you build and maintain strong bones. Having strong muscles and strong bones allows you to move more easily so you can enjoy whatever activities you participate in. Be sure to do core-strengthening work as well, since a strong core is very important to your posture.
  3. Stretching. Stretching muscles before you exercise helps to prevent injury and allows for greater freedom of movement. Stretching after exercise helps to prevent soreness by increasing blood flow to the muscles and removing lactic acid. Stretching also promotes flexibility and helps you relax. Stretching properly involves engaging opposing muscles. To fully understand how to stretch, watch a dog get up from sleeping. The dog immediately goes into “downward dog” position in which it is both stretching and flexing its muscles. You do the same when yawning and stretching your arms over your head. This is a very specific maneuver known as pandiculation. It is associated with keeping fascia really flexible within the muscle.
  4. Breathing. Despite what many people believe, the proper way to breathe when you are exercising is through your nose! (I don’t recommend exerting yourself beyond where you can breathe through your nose––at least not often.) When you breathe through your nose, air goes all the way into the lower lobes of your lungs, where the blood is most likely to get oxygenated. Over time, your lungs become more efficient, and you will achieve a higher fitness level with less effort. This means you will progress through your workouts at a lower heart rate and achieve the same benefits. At first, you may need to force the air out of your nose when you start exerting yourself. But over time, your fitness and aerobic capacity will increase, and you’ll be able to walk or run faster while breathing just through your nose. Nose-breathing will also help you create chest-wall flexibility. And it helps you maintain nervous system balance because breathing deeply through your nose activates the parasympathetic “rest and restore” nervous system. (Mouth breathing is associated with stress.)

Building Block 4: Relationships

Community equals immunity. There are hundreds of studies that show when people have satisfying relationships, they are happier, have fewer health problems––including colds and flu—and live longer. Some research suggests that feeling valued and supported in your relationships triggers the release of the stress-reducing hormones oxytocin and prolactin.

Here are my tips for attracting healthy relationships:

  1. Take inventory of your relationships. The people you spend time with should fill you up, not drain you. If you know someone who sucks your energy just by virtue of their presence, that is most likely not someone you want in your inner circle.
  2. Set your intention. When seeking new social connections, ask yourself, “What am I interested in?” “What have I always wanted to know, see, or experience?” Let your answers guide you.
  3. Open yourself up to new ideas. Do the inner work necessary to create more supportive relationships. It may help to meditate, pray, keep a journal, or say affirmations. You may also want to create a home altar and fill it with objects that call your tribe to you. As you go through these exercises, continue to release any limiting beliefs by writing them on pieces of paper and burning them or tossing them away.
  4. Reach out online. The internet has given us endless ways to meet people. Relationship coach Diana Kirschner, who wrote Love in 90 Days, points out more people of all ages are finding love than ever before because of online dating and social media. The same is true for finding friends. Try social media, or start a blog and name the type of members you want to attract. 
  5. Get involved. Tryvolunteering in your community, take an art class, take dancing lessons, or find a spiritual community that feels authentic to you. You will immediately start to feel more connected.

Building Block 5: Passion

Discovering your life purpose can be one of the healthiest things you do for yourself.  When you are doing what you were born to do, you are energized, and things just feel right. And when you are on your path toward self-discovery, you are automatically tapping into the wisdom of your body, mind, and spirit.

One important thing to remember here is that in order to discover and achieve your life’s purpose, you must engage in self-care. This includes doing something pleasurable each day, saying “no” when you don’t want to do something, resting when you are tired, going to the bathroom when you need to, breathing deeply and fully, treating your body with love and respect, allowing yourself to feel your emotions, and absorbing the healing stream that comes from God. It can also be updating your family legacy from one of abuse or depression to one of happiness and satisfaction.

Another way to discover your life’s purpose is to learn about your moon sign. In astrology, the position of the moon at your birth describes your emotional temperament and your life’s purpose. You can have your birth chart done and consult an astrologer to help you. Or read books and tap into what feels right. You can also take time to bathe in moonlight and see what information you receive.

Finally, work on releasing any limiting beliefs about what you are capable of doing. Start by observing any upper limiting thoughts and feelings, and release them. Write down your limiting behaviors so you are able to recognize them when you fall into them. Also notice and release negative self-talk, and use affirmations to improve your self-esteem. Focus on your strengths, and resist the urge to compare yourself to others. Once you determine what your life’s purpose is, write a plan to help you stay on track. Remember to express gratitude, since this will bring more of what you are grateful for toward you as you discover your life’s purpose.

Building Block 6: Spiritual Life

We are all spiritual beings with all-knowing souls or Higher Powers. Our bodies are permeated and nourished by spiritual energy and guidance. Connection with spirit is inherently part of being human. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is within. And we can all make this spiritual connection through our inner guidance. We need go no further than ourselves to find it.

Having faith and trust in this reality is crucial for lasting health and happiness. When you have faith in something greater than your intellect or your present circumstances, you are in touch with your inner source of power.

Many people find peace and comfort in a special place. It may be a place that they have gone to as children where they felt nurturing qualities. Like many women, I feel a deep spiritual connection with nature. A powerful way to tune in to the natural world is to notice what phase the moon is in and see if this natural waxing and waning has any effect on your body, emotions, or perceptions. You can also take notice of what effect the seasons have on you. I also highly recommend regular grounding—walking barefoot on a beach, standing barefoot on the grass, or leaning up against a tree. Gazing up at the moon is also very healthy. And all of these practices actually decrease cellular inflammation—the root cause of all chronic degenerative disease.

Regardless of whether you believe in angels, God, Jesus Christ, the human spirit, Buddha, the Blessed Mother, the Great Spirit, Allah, or the Goddess Gaia, being in tune with your spiritual resources is a vital healing force. Committing to remembering your spiritual self and receiving guidance is part of creating vibrant health.

Learning to connect with your spirituality is not difficult, but it cannot be done through intellect or ego. Here are my 3 steps for connecting to spirit:

    Step 1. Hold the intent to connect with divine guidance.

    Step 2. Release your expectations of what will happen as a result.

    Step 3. Wait for a response by being open to noticing any changes in the patterns of your life that relate to the original intent.

Building Block 7: Empowered Mind

Many people accept the notion that their brains will shrink and thus decline with age. This is not true. In fact, the hippocampus––the memory center of the brain–– has the capacity to keep growing new cells as long as you continue to learn. As such, your ability to think critically does not naturally decline with age. In fact, any decline in critical thinking has way more to do with cultural portals than growing older.

In his study of 700 healthy centenarians, Dr. Mario Martinez found that among the many characteristics they shared was the fact that they were all “rebels” who didn’t automatically go along with their cultures. Today, critical thinking––especially when it comes to your health––is considered rebellious. That’s because it goes against how most doctors are trained––namely to vaccinate and recommend tests to look for something wrong with you. And when they find something wrong, they are trained to diagnose it and prescribe drugs or surgery. The problem with going along with this approach is that most often it doesn’t support you in achieving health.

Using critical thinking is necessary if you want to remain empowered in your health and in life.

During this Great Awakening period, you have a huge opportunity to update your beliefs about your body and your health and to challenge the status quo when it doesn’t support your health and health freedom.

Here are 4 ways to empower your mind:

  1. Turn off mainstream media. You need only look at the advertisers during a segment to know where the mainstream “news” is coming from. If you like to watch/listen to mainstream media, be sure to take time to listen to opposing opinions and viewpoints of the same information from sources that do not take sponsorship money.
  2. Do your own research. When something doesn’t make sense or there seems to be more to a story, take advantage of the wealth of information on the internet to dig for primary resources. For example, if you are confused about the benefits and drawbacks of a particular medication, look for the studies and trusted authorities, not just the news reports. Since censorship is now the norm on many social media and search engine platforms, I suggest that you switch from Google Chrome to DuckDuckGo, Brave, Ecosia, or Opera.
  3. Examine your past. Often, it’s the small child inside of you who wants to believe what “authority” figures are telling them. That same small child is often unwilling to go against authority (even when they feel something is not right) out of fear of being rejected. Ask yourself if there was a time in your life when you spoke up for yourself or dissented against the opinion of your family or close-knit group of friends. What happened? Were you shamed or judged? Allow yourself to feel your emotions fully and then release them. This “staying present” with what Eckhart Tolle calls your “pain body”—the part of you that was formed from trauma—actually begins to dissolve that unhealed part. The more you practice doing this, the more you free your mind (and heart and body) of the emotions that cloud your ability to think and act critically.
  4. Listen to your inner wisdom. Your body knows the truth even when your mind does not recognize it right away. You may feel the truth in your bones, your gut, your heart. Take time to sit quietly and breathe. Focus on the question or issue at hand that you would like guidance on. Notice how your body responds. The answer or path you are destined to take will present itself if you listen.

My 7 Building Blocks of Health are basic tools that each of you has readily at your disposal. They are within your power to put to use every day. When you do, you will be setting yourself up to experience vibrant health at every age and stage of life.

Last Updated: July 7, 2020

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. thank u.

  2. Wonderful information, especially for these polarizing times! Is there a way to print this? Would love to hand out this article to my patients

  3. Barbara Smith
    4 years ago

    Wonderful advice for all. I can imagine a world where everyone followed this advice! I am 77 and still believe we can. Thank you Dr Northrup!

  4. pei
    4 years ago

    Only a small percentage we inherit from our parents and the rest are causes of outside environment affecting our health, meaning we can do a lot to improve our wellbeing through lifestyle choices. Many research have found that most diseases are reversible, treatable with balanced diet and regular exercise without medication as well as removing toxins (smoking, drinking, artificial additives, molds, etc). These information can be found in many online healthcare conferences being screened over the past few years and the present time since functional medicine have been acknowledged a lot more since the new millennium.

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