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Being Healthy - More than an Absence of Illness

Countless times in my practice, as I was conducting a consultation with a new patient, I would begin with, “How can I help you?” or “What seems to be your concern?” A common response was, “I just want to be healthy.” I would then usually ask a follow-up question of, “What specifically do you mean?” After they mentioned an assortment of aches and pains they would bring up answers like, “I just don’t have any energy anymore,” or “My cholesterol and blood pressure are through the roof,” or “I have shortness of breath and just can’t seem to lose this darn weight.”

more_than_the_absence_of_illness_pic“I just want to be healthy!” usually meant they wanted the thing most bugging them to go away. However, health is really far more than merely an absence of symptoms or discomfort. Think about it, a corpse has no symptoms and I’d wager not much discomfort either, but no one would call that healthy. Some recent research found that the average cancer patient had the malignancy growing in them for 7 years before any troubling symptoms were manifest. Were they “healthy” right up until they noticed the first outward evidence? In reality the symptoms or pain are more often than not the last sign to appear in an advancing disease process.

Health is a state of wellness from the cellular level clear up to the whole body level. It is a dynamic state wherein the body systems have the resilience and resistance to deal effectively with internal and external stressors from micro-organisms to being_healthy_more_than_absence_of_illness_picenvironmental pollution to physical exertion. Real health is a holistic concept, meaning it takes into account the whole person, not viewing them as just a collection of body parts. Our health care delivery system has become extremely specialized, and there are some real benefits to that. However, when a patient visits a cardiologist they are viewed basically as just a heart with a supporting vascular system, an EENT physician sees you as two ears, a nose, and a throat, an orthopedic surgeon only sees bones and joints, and I hate to say what a proctologist sees you as.

The term homeostasis indicates that all bodily systems are in equilibrium and functioning optimally. It is a state of well being that is not static, but one of constant adaptability, including a balance between the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of our life.

I believe that the power that made the body heals the body and has endowed us with inherent recuperative capabilities. This design is evidenced by the way the body heals from the inside out, with the help of, but frankly quite often in spite of, what we do from the outside. As an example of this principle, take a choice filet mignon steak and cut a deep incision down the middle. Get the most skilled surgeon to suture the cut back up, apply the strongest antibiotics, inject steroids, perform CPR, do everything medically possible, and I know we’ll all agree that no healing will occur. Why? Because there is no life force, no wellness, no health for the tissue to heal itself from the inside out. If the sutures or antibiotics were what actually healed the tissue then the outcome would be different. An extreme and imperfect example, you bet, but I think we get the point. If the body is well, then it can adapt and heal itself even if it does need some outside assistance.

being_healthy_importance_imageRemember my patient’s answer, “I just want to be healthy.” You may be asking yourself, “Well, how do I help get myself into this desired state of homeostasis or wellness?” Several recent studies of societies where people live active lives past 100 years of age found their amazing longevity is related to a healthy family life, not smoking, eating a plant-based diet, frequent consumption of legumes and nuts, and engaging in regular physical activity. Nowhere in the report did it mention anything about them taking expensive pills or potions. You want to be healthy; let Sunwarrior plant-based superfoods be an integral part of your quest.

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