In search of providing the body with exactly what it needs – it isn’t hard to confuse yourself with all the recommendations IF we base our thought processes on the wrong paradigm.
- Make sure you eat fish twice a week for your heart!
- Eat blueberries for better levels of vitamins to help with memory!
- Grass-fed beef has healthier forms of dietary fats to help with libido!
- Getting adjusted regularly helps with back pain during pregnancy!
While all these statements are true, if we fall into a, ‘eat this for that!’, or ‘you need THIS treatment for THAT complaint!’ pattern, we set ourselves up to be questioned and can eventually end up questioning our own intentions.
- Careful eating fish! They can be contaminated with heavy metals like mercury, lead and cadmium!
- Excess fructose in fruit like blueberries found to be associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease!
- Saturated fat in organic, grass-fed beef increases cholesterol!
- Having your joints “manipulated” carries the risk of fracture!
Once again, all true statements. So NOW who do you believe/which set of advice do you take???
We need to give up the, “it’s good because it has ______!”, and the “It’s bad because it has _______!” paradigm or all we’re going to do is confuse and frustrate ourselves. Being in health care, I’m not one to criticize something unless I have a better alternative. We need to base our recommendations (and more importantly, our choices) on the following question:
What is required to create and maintain a healthy human being?
Asking whether or not a particular treatment, or herb, or diet, can help with a particular injury, symptom or illness can create good research findings, but is inefficiency at its’ best (think about the number of studies this would require! Ok… fish helps with heart disease.; Does it help with stroke? does it help with cancer? Do we study its’ association with EVERY other state of physiology?).
So then, how do we approach finding out what is needed to create and maintain a healthy human being. Well, we’re going to have to ask a series of questions to find that out.
- How do we define health?
- What is a healthy human being?
- Are there any healthy human beings to model off?
- What does a human need to provide what is needed to create health?
- How do we avoid what may prevent health?
These are the driving questions behind how we should approach our health. There may be sub-sections that we want to dive more deeply into, but for now, we’ll build a solid starting point.
So, let’s define “Health”:
- A state of optimal and appropriate cell function
- Your cells are 100% capable of responding to the requests being made of them
For example – if you were to live at elevation, your physiology would need to make changes, right? There is less oxygen in the air the higher above sea level you go. Your tissues still need the same amount of oxygen to function optimally. Your red blood cells deliver the oxygen you take in via your lungs to the other cells/tissues in your body. So there are two options, get the red blood cells to carry more oxygen (not possible), or make more blood cells. Your body creates erythropoietin and you make more red blood cells (there is also an effect where your red blood cells become more likely to give up their oxygen). Problem solved. When you return to sea level, your body lowers its’ need for red blood cells, and you make less, maintaining the optimal amount.
So when your cells can respond to the demands placed upon them, you remain in good health.
“What is a Healthy Human Being?”
A healthy human being is one who experiences a normal rate of cell division, creating and maintaining health as they age. The maximum potential life span for a human is approximately 120 years. Stress, whether it comes from poor food choices, poor sleeping habits, poor physical condition or from mental origins, accelerates the rate at which your cells divide – meaning your life will become shorter than the 120 potential years. This means resources need to be devoted to creation, maintenance AND repair for the bodies’ cells. As we know with multi-tasking, it makes you able to do more things less effectively. It also means a shorter, less enjoyable life.
“Are there any healthy human beings to model off?”
Yes. Our ancestors, and existing hunter-gatherer tribes live a life where 80% of their population ISN’T dying of lifestyle illnesses. What DO they die of? Injury, infection (usually associated with injury), and starvation. With our luxury of abundant food and climate controlled, weather-proof shelter, we tend to avoid these causes of death. So, as with all things, let’s take what works (NOT having heart disease), and leave what doesn’t (getting mauled by a tiger), for our benefit.
So then, what is required to be sufficient and pure? Providing all those ingredients in the right amounts to create optimal wellness in a human being. To some degree it will depend on your goals, but will be based off:
- A positive self image
- Loving relationships
- Full & appropriate range of motion in your spine and extremities
- Intelligently programmed exercise
- An impeccable diet that is nutrient full and calorie-appropriate
- Great sleep & other recovery exercises (stretching, stabilising, having fun)
If it were as easy as being sufficient and pure, health would be more abundant (which would be nice). Unfortunately we very frequently find ourselves encountering many stressors that cause us to express less than healthy physiology. These stressors include (but are not limited to):
- Low confidence & poor self image
- Abusive relationships (mentally as well as physically)
- Subluxations (movement restrictions & their sequelae) in the spine and extremities
- Lack of exercise OR too much exercise
- A diet with a lack of nutrition, too many calories and foods unfit for human consumption
- Poor sleep and other habits limiting recovery
So, WHY would you go through the trouble of doing all these things? Because, as of now, 80% of us (those living in western nations) will die of lifestyle illnesses. Because for the first time in decades, children have a SHORTER expected life span than those born before them. We are on more medications, receiving more surgeries, spending more money on nutraceuticals and miracle cure promises than any time in history and we are less healthy, less happy and sicker than ever before. We are the sickest species on the planet and there are NO shortcuts, NO secrets and NO magic fixes that will make us healthy other than eating, moving and thinking in ways that will support our health.
Before I finish this post, I need to thank Dr. James Chestnut. I’ve used some of his analogies and verbiage as I don’t believe in the need to “reinvent the wheel”. He has worked hard to make the wellness lifestyle paradigm easy to understand and explain. Much love and respect goes out to his continued work to help people live happier, healthier lives.
It is NEVER too late to start and your start can be as comprehensive or as gradual as you want to make it. If you would like, I am available as a resource to help your spine move better, to make great use of that movement, and to fuel your body to optimally support your athletic and fitness endeavours. Click this link, if you’d like to book an appointment with me, or to sign up for a class at CrossFit Sudbury!
Adam Ball DC MScACN BHSc NMC CF-L1