- By: Dr. John Stenberg
- Date: Dec 12, 2018
We live in the era of big data and “biohacking” where recovering health and staying well is often considered a luxury instead of an attainable goal for the Average Joe. It doesn’t take long to be flooded with online information regarding the latest guru’s formula of new gadgets or ancient secrets that bring about miraculous results in the blink of an eye.
Are carbs good or bad? Should I do high intensity training or longer endurance training? What toxins do I need to cleanse and how? The list goes on and on. If you’re like most people, the process of evaluating your options and understanding health is daunting, to say the least. What you need is a proper foundational understanding of how health is created in the body – the filter for appraising information and opinions. Being empowered with a few simple principles allows you to be equipped and confident in making educated, proactive decisions regarding your health.
What health is NOT
The term health is so broad and encompasses many different aspects of life – physical, chemical, emotional, spiritual, etc. Having an operational definition of health allows one to then appraise information and align with a support system that aids in improving upon one’s health comprehensively. One of the best ways to understand what something IS, is to first identify what it is NOT. Here are a few thoughts to consider regarding what health isn’t:
- Health is NOT a lottery – it is not reserved for the lucky few who just happened to hit the jackpot
- Health is NOT an accident – identify any one person who is feeling and functioning well into their 70’s and beyond and you’re sure to find someone who has committed themselves to a lifestyle that produces health
- Health is NOT the absence of symptoms – consider that one of the first symptoms of cardiovascular disease is often a fatal heart attack. Healthy living is more about how well you function, feeling good is a natural byproduct of this.
- Health is NOT guaranteed – we’ve all heard of examples of people who have done “all the right things” and still developed a serious illness such as cancer. We’ve also seen examples of people who did “all of the wrong things” and lived to be 100. There are no shortcuts, guarantees, or crystal balls when it comes to healthy living.
So what IS health?
Now that we’ve established some guidelines regarding what health is NOT, it’s time to lay out our working definition of health.
Health is a process of coordinated function. Notice that this definition is simple, does not include the word balance, and focuses on FUNCTION. Whether it’s a business, a community, or a physical body, the healthiest systems are the ones in which all of the individual parts function in a coordinated manner.
To focus in on physical health, coordinated function includes the following functional systems of the body:
- structural (bones, muscles, tissues)
- chemical (hormones, transmitters, and various other molecular substances)
- electrical (brain and nerve impulses that serve as the operating system of the body)
A Simple Illustration
Consider the simple action of taking a step forward. Before the action happens, it is first initiated in the brain (i.e. “I want/need to take a step”). The brain then sends electrical impulses through the network of nerves to the muscles and joints that produce a physical step (i.e. leg, hip, and back muscles). The electrical impulses create a chemical reaction resulting in the contraction of the CORRECT muscles at the CORRECT time in the CORRECT amounts – a coordinated effort that results in a smooth and effortless step forward.
This example seems simplistic but consider a situation in which this coordinated action is disrupted, as in the case of a spinal cord injury. In this case, the brain conceives the desire to take a step, sends nerve impulses to the muscles of the leg, and the electrical impulse is obstructed by damage to the nerve circuit. The result – no chemical reaction in the muscle and the step is not achieved. This disruption in coordinated function (a.k.a. un-coordinated function) results in an “unhealthy” series of muscles in the legs that no longer perform their function.
So how do I apply this knowledge?
I see people in the office all of the time that achieve health improvements as they proceed through NeuroStructural Chiropractic care. We don’t add anything to the body, we don’t take anything away. We simply improve upon what they already have by identifying abnormal structural displacements and working to correct those over time. As this negative stressor on the body is reduced, the coordinated effort of the body to find and maintain equilibrium results in the normalizing of various functions in the body. The result is the expression of an untapped health potential that always existed.
The recovery of health and well-being becomes a natural progression as coordination between the electrical, chemical, and structural systems of the body improves. This all happens according to the principles of NORMAL body function. This is the key point in understanding the application of this approach to health. If you are able to engage in activities that RESTORE normal function within the body, you are more likely to experience a higher level of health and well-being.
Where do I start?
StStart by evaluating your own health. What areas of your life do you desire to see improvements? Can you trace those back to one of the three functional systems of the body (structural, chemical, electrical)? As you begin to explore these areas of health, consider consulting with a professional who can guide you in understanding how these systems should work normally and where you can make targeted changes that have the largest carry-over to the other systems (the proverbial “low-hanging fruit”).art by evaluating your own health. What areas of your life do you desire to see improvements? Can you trace those back to one of the three functional systems of the body (structural, chemical, electrical)? As you begin to explore these areas of health, consider consulting with a professional who can guide you in understanding how these systems should work normally and where you can make targeted changes that have the largest carry-over to the other systems (the proverbial “low-hanging fruit”).