To understand the secrets to health and healing I had to revisit a conference I attended in Las Vegas, where I had heard a talk from Dr. James Chestnut (http://www.thewellnesspractice.com/drchestnut.cfm). His paradigm of health is very congruent with most of what I teach my patients.
Several key points that he made during that talk have stuck with me when I try to understand why some of my patients are ill and how I can guide them towards better health.
According to Dr. Chestnut, two questions we must ask ourselves in order to understand the secrets to health are:
Why are we sick?
What is required to express our potential for health?
We have historically believed that the reason we became ill was due to bad genes, bad germs or bad luck. There are several problems with this belief system.
If all the drugs and medical procedures in the world were free this would not make us healthier as it does not get to the cause of the problem. There is no drug or therapy that can correct poor lifestyle decisions.
Our genes have not changed in thousands of years. We are starting to understand that our environment can express certain aspects of our genes. I will touch on the role of epigenetics (Epigenetics is the science of how our genes get expressed. Our environment and lifestyle affects how our genes get expressed) on our health in a future post.
Our immune system is responsible for detecting and removing bacteria, viruses and cancer. If and when our immune system is in a lowered state (due to several factors such as high sugar diet) the body loses its ability to defend itself and becomes weaker. Resulting in illness.
I am always very clear with my patients that we are very thankful for medicine during crisis and trauma. The problem arises with chronic lifestyle related illnesses.
The last issue involves the lack of control of your health. If you believe that you just ‘catch illness’ or ‘finally your problem has been found’ you lose self-control over your health and leave it to random chance.
This is the reason very little money is spent on prevention. Prevention is often simply early detection. We find something that has been inside of us potentially for decades.
Chronic sickness in the medical system is based on genes or homeostasis.
If you are not within homeostasis you are sick and that is how we decide if you need an intervention.
Why does this happen? Is it a genetic defect? Or body has lost the ability to self-regulate (for example your body lost ability to regulate its blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.)?
In this model you will never intervene until the symptoms are in a certain range.
Unfortunately this model is not working very well as many people continue their poor lifestyle choices while they get sicker believing that their condition is well under control. The actual cause of the illness is not addressed.
When we go to our health care provider they must measure sick or well. Then measurements must be compared to normal scores. If the score is outside the preferred range, you will likely be told you that we must intervene in order to bring the score to a normal range.
In other words, you are defective and we must regulate you with a drug because your body cannot regulate itself or has suddenly lost the ability to regulate itself.
The most critical and most often overlooked point in this model is the understanding that the environment of any organism can affect its physiology.
Adaptive physiology is NOT pathology.
For example, controlling elevated blood pressure with a medication will not correct the cause. Refer to ‘Stress Kills’ for an in depth look at how adaptive physiology will end our lives early.
So what is the secret to health?
Find out what your genes need to express health and not sickness and disease.
Epigenetics and allostasis are key to understanding the role of genes and our health.
Allostasis is how your homeostasis shifts in order to deal with environmental demand. When you exercise, your homeostasis will shift and this is not pathology but an adaptation to your environment.
If you want to truly understand your level of health, you must measure your allostatic load on regular basis.
Epigenetics is the science of how our genes get expressed. Our environment and lifestyle affects how our genes get expressed.
What environment is needed for our genes to express health?
Maximized mindset: we need love, self-esteem, confidence, support, a sense of community and a sense of purpose.
Maximized nutrition: primarily plant-based and avoid all processed.
Optimal physical activity: short duration high-intensity exercise and strength training (see ‘what is the best form of exercise’).
Minimizing toxic exposure: reduce exposure of anything toxic that goes in or on your body including food, personal care and cleaning products.