HEALTH, FITNESS AND WELLBEING
The word 'health' means 'to be whole'. We are dis-at-ease when we experience a lack of wholeness. The success of modern medicine in conquering the infectious diseases has brought about a change in the meaning of the word 'disease' . It has come to mean 'illness caused by random misfortune' rather than dysfunction of a body system to which one can attribute a cause.
Here in Australia, our governments support the bad luck theory of illness in the way they allocate the public health budget, currently somewhere in excess of $60B per year and by the way they focus attention on treatment of symptoms, not cure. This is why there are 2m people on hypertension tablets; why 100 million packets of paracetamol tablets are sold every year; why 24 million Australians generate over 200 million visits to surgeries and hospitals: why there is an exponential growth in pharmaceutical prescriptions.
Most of the things that happen to us happen through under-use, over-use or mis-use, leading to dysfunctions of one or more major body systems, particularly the metabolic, autonomic nervous, immune and the musculo-skeletal systems.
At root our dysfunctions begin with our habits, attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviours. To change our health status we need to change out thinking.
Whilst poverty and poor health appear to go hand in hand, it is a distorted philosophy which goes on to blame poverty as the cause of poor health, particularly in a country that has a universal education system and an economic safety net. A lot of people started off poor in this country and became both healthy and wealthy. Both health and wealth depend on attitude, misfortune aside.
SYMPTOMATIC MEDICAL MODEL
It is an exercise in futility trying to build a health system on a symptomatic medical system.
Contrary to the opinion of symptomatic medical apologists, it is not the heroic diseases that are the major health issues in this country; in actual fact it is the every day dys-eases; headaches, crook backs, insomnia, lack of energy, feeling miserable, obesity, colds, elevated blood pressure, asthma, indigestion, rashes, ... that people have to put up with on a daily basis. These symptoms of body system dysfunction can be classified as background noise. For some people the noise is deafening!
You can make a choice, to quieten it down, either with a tablet or healthy living living program that stimulated recuperative power. Taking the tablet that masks symptom and doesn't restore poor health to0 good is not best medical practice.
And contrary to symptomatic medical opinion, the health of Australians is not getting better. Until the national public and private health bill starts going down, you can be certain that health is getting worse.
DECLINING HEALTH STATUS
Whilst people may statistically be living longer at the beginning of the 21st Century than at the beginning of the 20th Century, when infant and childhood mortality is taken into account, longevity has not improved greatly. It is more appropriate to attribute longer life to the great public health initiatives of fresh water, deep drainage, compulsory education, 55 years without a great war, than symptomatic medicine - antibiotics and immunization excepted
Symptomatic medical, treatment, regardless of whether it is evidenced based or not falls short of the mark, as does any long term medical intervention which does not do its level best to fix problems. Of course there is plenty of evidence that blood pressure tablets lower blood pressure. There is very little that it is the right treatment, aimed at the probable cause of the dysfunction for fixing the problem. That prescription is healthy living, rarely prescribed and less rarely taken.
Symptomatic medicine has a rightful place in helping you to deal with immediate life-threatening dysfunction. Once the threat has been reduced, you have to work on fixing the dysfunction yourself.
PRINCIPLES OF HEALTH, FITNESS AND WELLBEING
The things that go wrong with the body systems all have causes, usually more than one cause.
To search for a cause rather than many causes leads to an inadequate treatment plan. Most of the common dysfunctions are eminently fixable, providing the lifestyle of the dysfunctional person is one which has all major body systems working in synch.
Of course the most frequent treatments for the common dysfunctions are palliative and therapeutic.
For instance the usual treatment for lower back pain is an anti-inflammatory and some manipulative therapy. treatment no doubt, but not treatment designed to restore the body to the state of wholeness. What it does lead to is greater and greater dependence on the medical system.
Staying fit and healthy is an investment. Symptomatic medical treatment is a cost. Spending a little time, effort, thought and money on one's fitness leads, sooner or later to a reward. It's called good health and it comes with vitality, energy and a good night's sleep.
A useful way to determine the cause and to prescribe the treatment for a dys-ease is to take the route that starts from the head down, the inside out and back through the past. For instance it would be bizarre to prescribe a creme to rub on the outside of the body for a cause that lay on the inside- and yet this is what's going on daily in surgeries across the length and breadth of the Western world.
Narrowly focused, uni-modal observation may not pick out all the possible causes and may not suggest the most appropriate range of treatments.
It is most frequently the case that the cause(s) of dys-ease and dysfunction will not be at the site where the effect is manifest.
Rarely if ever will the cause of body system dysfunction be ascribed to laziness, ignorance, stupidity and attachment to fixed ways of being.
In particular, when it comes to musculo-skeletal dysfunction it is a brave diagnosis that locates the cause of the dysfunction at the site of the pain.
Subtle manifestations of dys-ease and dysfunction precede gross ones. Big problems could have been solved when they were small. (Lao-tzu)
We have the ability to predict whether small problems will turn into large ones. When appropriately stimulated, the body has wonderful, innate recuperative powers.
Are you awake and listening to what your body is telling you?
The Lifestyle Prescription stands head and shoulders above all other prescriptions for keeping yourself fit and healthy. Lack of regular, vigorous physical activity, a junk diet and an inability to manage the stress of life costs the Australian community in excess of $60B each year. Subsidizing the medical and pharmaceutical industries has not generated a flood of good health; on the contrary.
Trying to stay healthy without keeping yourself fit is a tough assignment. I never met anyone who kept themselves fit (or healthy) by ambling around the block for ten minutes.
Keeping fit and healthy, and restoring yourself to the fit and healthy state requires an investment in time, effort, money and thought. Nothing was ever achieved without enthusiasm or persistence. (Many people gave up just as they were about to reach their goal!)
Regular, vigorous aerobic physical activity contributes to the efficient functioning of all the major body systems, particularly the immune, autonomic nervous and elimination systems. It does aerobic exercise a grave disservice to attribute as its major function an improvement in heart health. Heart health comes at the end of a long chain of improved system function. Trying to substitute a tablet for vigorous aerobic physical activity is one of the great tragedies of symptomatic medicine.
Bones do what muscles tell them to do. Specific physical exercises which strengthen, loosen and give balance to muscle development, contribute to better skeletal function.
Talk to people who have had the dys-ease or dysfunction and find out what they did to restore themselves to good health. Read books and search the internet for ideas which broaden your understanding of the cause and treatment of your dys-ease. Hippocrates said that the physician who has had the dys-ease speaks with much more authority!
When considering rehabilitation modalities, never overlook the wisdom of the ancients. never overlook the remedies which have been around for thousands of years and those which have worked for other people.
Respect the fact that your illness may be nature's way of telling you something; to rest, slow down, to eat differently, to exercise regularly, to meditate, to make changes in your life ...
To affect a complete recovery, make sure the treatment fixes the cause(s) and doesn't just mask the symptoms.
A successful rehabilitation program will be speeded up by the use of a range of modalities applied in a regular, systematic and intensive way.
It's a big ask expecting your body to get better by having someone do something to you. Sooner or later you have to do something to yourself. This applies equally to vigorous aerobic activity for the major body systems and to strengthening, loosening and postural alignment exercises for the musculo-skeletal system.
Like poor workmen, the tendency is for people to blame their tools (and their jobs), rather than themselves for the cause of their dys-ease and dysfunction.
You are responsible for your own thoughts, feelings and actions.
You are responsible for your own rehabilitation. The US Surgeon general hit the nail on the head in 1979 when he said 'You, the individual can do more for your own health and well being that any doctor, any hospital, and drug, any exotic medical advice'.
The right to health, sickness, accident, workers compensation and early retirement benefits is attended by the responsibility to keep yourself fit and healthy to the best of your ability.
When appropriately stimulated, the body has wonderful, innate recuperative powers. An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. Are you awake and listening to what your body is telling you.
Miller Health in association with Integrated Health Systems
7 Salvado Place, Stirling (Canberra) ACT 2611 Australia
61 2 62887703