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  • Writer's pictureDr. Doug Pooley

What is health?

In our society today that is the million dollar question. The really funny thing is that although I have been a health care provider for close to 40 years, I personally could not answer the question with any great authority or certainty.  I kind of shocked myself considering that I supposedly provided “health care” services for my patients. Thinking it though a little deeper and I realized what I really provided was not health care but rather treatment for disease. As I continued to process this revelation, it became apparent that most if not all of my practice was devoted to fixing problems and a very small percentage was actually pointed towards “health”.  People came to me when they had a health concern that they could not fix themselves. As a chiropractor, most of that revolved around pain management for dysfunction or injury to the spine or other related joints and tissues. I thought…OK so what about the other health care providers? Do they provide “health care” services? So I looked at the most common reasons people consulted a health care provider and nowhere on the list was “health”. A bit ironic, all call ourselves health care providers, but almost nothing in what we provide equates to health.

So what is health? As defined by World Health Organization (WHO), it is a "State of complete physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Intellectually this makes perfect sense but who in health is providing this?

The answer sadly is nobody. All aspects of Western health care are devoted to the treatment in one form or another of disease. This of course begs the question: “If we know what health is how come nobody is providing a strategy to address it? We know that independent of crisis care, our current system for all of the money and effort put into it statistically does not keep us alive any longer, or improve quality of life. What makes this even more insane is the fact that science has conclusively identified the root causes of most of the diseases associated with aging to be diet, exercise, lifestyle and stress related and yet there are no defined programs anywhere to deal with what have been identified as the real causes of disease. Most of us know that they should eat cleanly, exercise regularly and have a purpose for our lives, but where is the strategy in mainstream health providing a game plan to address this?

Someone much smarter that I said: “There is no profit in prevention”….sad but probably true.

Let me give you a sure-fire, common sense strategy to help maintain your health and live out your genetic predisposition: Eat sensibly by eliminating as many refined foods as possible, limit dairy and wheat products to one serving a day, eat more vegetables and fruits than carbohydrates and limit your animal protein intake to the size of your fist once/day. Move!!!! The body was genetically engineered to move; with the failure to do so being responsible for much of the obesity and health concerns facing 21st century society. Never sit for more than an hour without getting up and moving. If the gym is not your gig, then walk, cycle, swim, or do some combination thereof. Research is showing that the body responds positively to even moderate levels of activity and conversely the more sedentary you are, the more susceptible to disease. Remember this wonderful quote…”movement is medicine.” Lastly find your passion and pursue it. Each and every one of us has a purpose. Some find it early, some later and some never do figure it out.

We all have it within us to be happy. Life is a self-fulfilling prophecy where you get out of it pretty much what you put in to it and our current lives are a reflection of our past decisions, good and bad. A healthy life is exactly the same thing, a matter of making sound decisions and following through in ways that empower us to fully enjoy the magnificence of this life.

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