Health. Such a vague term, as it should be. The World Health Organization defines it as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The way I see it, health is living in such a way as to support our physical, mental and spiritual selves in order to function optimally and reach our full potential. It is so much more than simply “not being sick”, it is about becoming the best possible version of yourself. This term means something different to everyone as it is a unique, personal and ever-changing goal that should be viewed as a journey, not a final destination.
The average amount of remotely conscious decisions an adult makes each day equals about 35,000. Each and every decision has the potential to be constructive or detrimental. If we view health and disease on a continuum, we can see that we are always working towards either end, based on the choices we are making. We must focus on increasing the ratio of our healthy to unhealthy decisions in order to develop positive habits and choose the path to health. But how does one start this journey? While the goal of perfect health is ambiguous and impossible to describe, the end result of disease is unfortunately, very easy to define and measure. Let’s take a look at the steps that take place on the path to disease.
The Steps To Disease
The path towards disease begins with poor decisions made at the PREVENTION level. These are standard day-to-day decisions we make on a consistent basis, that end up adding up over time. Things that fall under this category include: 1) NUTRITION - ingredient choices (types, source, and personal requirements), basic supplementation (i.e. prevention pack), cooking methods, eating habits, water intake and food combinations. 2) ENVIRONMENT – hygiene and exposure to sun, chemicals, xeno estrogens, electromagnetic frequencies. 3) PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – exercises for resistance, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular health. 4) COGNITION – mental stimulation, mindfulness, stress, thought patterns, sleep. 5) SOCIAL – inter and intrapersonal relationships. 6) SPIRITUAL – factors such as hope, purpose, love, faith, gratitude. Lastly, GENETICS should be acknowledged and do play a role in the development of health or disease. However, although genetics may predispose one to disease, gene expression has the potential to vary depending on the various preventative factors mentioned above.
When there is an imbalance in the area of prevention (more bad decisions than good), there are common bodily responses that tend occur. From my studies and experience, it has appeared that most diseases stem from 10 interconnected and underlying ROOT problems at the TREATMENT level. These include: 1) DIGESTIVE ISSUES (inefficient breakdown, absorption and elimination – characterized by an imbalance of friendly bacteria, slow food transit, inadequate enzyme/stomach acid production) 2) TOXIC BUILD UP/CONGESTED ORGANS (inability to detoxify, metabolize and excrete – characterized by build-up of matter, chemicals, xeno estrogens, heavy metals.) 3) OXIDATIVE STRESS (overproduction and/or inability to properly neutralize free radicals/reactive, unstable molecules that cause cell damage in the body ) 4) INFLAMMATION (body’s natural reaction to irritation) 5) TISSUE DAMAGE (characterized by deterioration of connective (cartilage, bone)/nervous (brain, nerves)/epithelial (intestinal lining, skin) /muscle (blood vessels) tissues) 6) pH IMBALANCES (over acidity/alkalinity, leached minerals) 7) NURIENT DEFICIENCIES (lack of building blocks and co-factors for body structures and functions). 8) IMMUNE SYSTEM DYSFUNCTION (over or under active immunity) 9) PATHOGENIC INVASION (bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic infection or overgrowth). 10) HORMONAL OR NEUROTRANSMITTER IMBALANCES (mixed signals, harmful/poor conversions or over/underproduction, stressed glands – hormones: thyroid (TSH, T4, T3), adrenals (cortisol), pancreas (insulin), liver (sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) and neurotransmitters: melatonin (sleep), GABA (anxiety), serotonin (mood), dopamine (motivation) and acetylcholine (memory).
These systems can all cause problems within themselves or be affected by each other illustrating why there are often several underlying root problems that can and should be addressed when dealing with a health issue. These malfunctions lead to the signs we can measure, such as stones, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, bone loss, weight gain, etc., and symptoms we see and feel, such as headaches, acne, brain fog, mood swings, sore throat/cough, swelling, pain, fatigue. These serve as warnings to your body that you are headed on the path to disease and need to slow down and make some changes. Unfortunately, when these underlying root issues at the treatment level go ignored and become chronic, there is a high risk of reaching that final destination on the opposite end of the spectrum, which is the DISEASE level. This occurs when individual organs or total systems deteriorate, malfunction, fail or there is abnormal cell growth and invasion.
How Do I Choose the Path to Good Health?
If you find yourself suffering from signs and symptoms or if you are aware that you may be headed that way based on your current behaviors, here are some steps to follow to get back on track! This strategy follows the pattern of the four “R’s”. Remove, Replace, Repair & Re-Inoculate. First, REMOVE & REPLACE daily negative behaviors and habits with health-promoting decisions at the prevention level. This includes learning about, and incorporating proper nutrition, exercise, environmental choices, etc. It is then essential to REPAIR & REINCOLULATE various systems at the treatment level if necessary, using options that best suit your specific needs. This final step includes things such as improving digestion, cleansing/detoxifying the organs and breaking down abnormal build up, neutralizing free radicals with antioxidants, controlling inflammation, rebuilding damaged tissues, regulating pH (acid-alkaline) levels and replenishing deficient nutrients, modulating the immune system, fighting infection, regulating hormones and neurotransmitters as well as supporting stressed glands. Lastly, in order to MAINTAIN this journey to health, applying certain principles (such as variety, enjoyment, quality, moderation, balance, adaptability, modification, etc.) will enable you to transform these day to day behaviors into a permanent lifestyle.
This can be done in a series of baby steps, with the assistance of qualified professionals and trustworthy resources from various areas of expertise. There is a time and a place for each form of treatment and advice. Each individual is unique in how their specific needs must be approached in order for them to thrive and achieve optimal health. Seek information on how to make positive day-to-day decisions, explore various potential treatment options, as well as behavioral guideline suggestions on how to make this a permanent lifestyle from individuals who have education, experience, resources and compassion. Consider natural health as one of the areas that can help you target the root cause of your health issues and become the best version of you!
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.