If you had to pick one thing that you thought was most destructive to your health and well-being, what would it be?
Maybe a sedentary lifestyle?
My Vote For Most Destructive
I spent some time thinking about that this morning, and while those are all major life-shorteners, there is a bigger issue that is ruining people’s lives, and I want to address it this week:
Before you roll your eyes and write this off as a pseudo-spiritual article about patience and self-control, I want to show you how short-term thinking could be harming you.
Two Ways To Manage Weeds
There are two ways to manage the weeds in a garden: you can carefully remove each one by hand, pulling gently to avoid upsetting the roots of your crops, or you can douse the whole thing in herbicides. One takes longer and requires a higher level of commitment, but it’s more precise and healthier (plus, there are piles of amazing health benefits associated with gardening). The other works quickly, but usually comes with undesirable side effects, like poisoning the very crops you are trying to protect.
In the military, they call it “collateral damage” when you accidentally kill some of your own people or destroy property in an effort to obliterate the enemy.
Shortcuts Are Becoming A Lifestyle
In an effort to get a desired result (e.g., fresh, home-grown vegetables) with minimal time and effort, we tend to take short-cuts (e.g., herbicides). Part of the reason is that we always seem to be in a hurry. As a society, we are over-committed, over-extended, and over-drawn on our resources. Even if we aren’t, we run at such a pace, we feel like we are. We always have somewhere else we want to be, so we need things to happen quickly. But we are also conditioned to expect things to come to us instantly. Think of fast food, instant food, microwave, multi-tasking, instant messaging, and so on. We expect things “now.”
When we are conditioned to expect things instantly, we take shortcuts. But too often, we take them without giving thought to the collateral damage, the side effects. We use pesticides and herbicides to remove the threats to our crops quickly and efficiently, but we don’t consider how residues of those chemicals will be retained in the crops, the soil, the groundwater, or the people and animals who eat those crops. Short-term results, at what cost?
We use prescription meds to relieve uncomfortable symptoms in our bodies. Again, we fail to think through the ramifications of those choices: the side effects. Maybe your headache is gone, but now you have abdominal cramping, and you shortened the useful life of your liver by a few minutes. Not a big deal now, but if you take that medicine twice a day for a couple of years, those minutes add up. Your liver and organs like it store the residues of everything you put in your body, including every chemical from aerosol oven cleaners to aspirin. Over time, those chemicals destroy healthy cells faster than your body can replenish them.
The Price of Convenience
How many of the conveniences you enjoy every day come with a long-term cost you don’t think about?
- How many people die early of cancers caused by the cleaning chemicals they use at work or at home, when vinegar would have sufficed?
- Microwave ovens are faster than conventional ovens, but do you completely understand what they do to the molecular structure of your food?
- Much of the division we see in our culture exists because we get our news from tweets and headlines instead of taking the time to research issues from multiple perspectives for ourselves.
It plays out in small ways, too. You can ruin a relationship by sending a poorly-worded text; ninety-three percent of all communication is non-verbal. Your remote control can contribute to a fat butt because you don’t have to get up from your seat for hours at a time. Your car is faster than your bicycle, but it is also an enclosed space that blocks you from fresh air and direct sunshine.
My point is this: every convenience comes at a price. As the old saying goes, ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
The Balance of Speed, Price, and Quality
In the business world, there are three measures of any product or service: speed, price, and quality. If you want something of high quality turned around fast, the price goes up. If you want it fast and cheap, you sacrifice quality. To get a quality product made inexpensively, you often have to wait for it.
In our culture, we want the best quality fast and cheap, and nothing works that way. Anyone that tells you that you can have all three is trying to sell you something they can’t really deliver.
One word: McDonald’s. You know what I mean.
So, in our consideration of healthcare, we need to take a larger view of wellness, as we discussed last week and the week before. (If you haven’t read those yet, go ahead and read them now. I’ll wait here. I’m building a case over the weeks.)
Most Western medicine (especially here in America) treats the symptoms instead of looking for root causes (trading quality for speed). Treating symptoms with pills brings faster relief, but it never makes the real problem go away, so you could be chasing symptoms for the rest of your life. Sure, the prescribing doctor makes more money that way, but how is that helping you in the long run? Eventually, you pay for it with diminished wellness, and maybe with cash, too.
Drowning your sorrows with drugs might make you feel better for a short time, but you know as well as I do that the real problem will still be there when you sober up. Eventually, you will pay a price for the quality solution you traded for speed.
There’s a better way.
A Better Way In The Long Run
It takes longer to get results by doing things the right way, but it also gets better and longer-lasting results (trading speed for quality).
- Consider your headache. It can take a few weeks of regular adjustments to properly align your spine, but once you are in alignment, you have less pain, more flexibility, and better overall health for years to come with minimal maintenance. Can your aspirin do that?
- What about diabetes? You can control diabetes for a while with pills, but most prescription treatments for diabetes come with side effects, and some of them are pretty severe. Plus, you don’t rebuild the pancreas with chemicals; you can only manage the symptoms. On the other hand, if you change the eating habits that led to diabetes in the first place (and I have yet to hear of a case of diabetes that wasn’t directly tied to eating habits), you can heal the pancreas. It’s hard work, but it can be done if you’re willing to make the lifestyle choices that will allow your body to heal.
Now, someone will always tell me of cases where the pancreas was so far gone that it couldn’t be regenerated. Fair enough. But that’s the extreme case, and it takes a lifetime of abuse to get to that level. Most people–especially those who catch it early–can turn the ship around.
Attack What’s Attacking You With A Detox
For years, I have been taking patients through a 28-day detox program, which is a process where we gradually eliminate toxic foods from their diets so that their bodies can begin cleaning out the residue from years of eating unhealthy foods and turn off the fire under their inflammation.
- The first step is to remove the toxic foods. You will never get better if you don’t eliminate the problem. Your body needs to be able to stop fighting before it can focus its energy on repair and restoration.
- The second step is to give your body a time of rest and rebuilding. Yes, that includes fasting all foods for a period of time. Your gut needs a day off as much as you do. You can read all about it in the book of Leviticus.
- The third step is to add in nutrient-dense foods. Your body is programmed to recognize and absorb real food and reject things that aren’t food. Your brain might like Twinkies, but let me assure you that the rest of your body considers it a foreign invader.
This is not a “miracle pill” process.
Only Lifestyle Change Brings Lasting Results
If you want to experience wellness in your body without painful side effects, you have to make appropriate lifestyle changes:
- Increase your physical activity
- Increase your clean water intake
- Reduce your exposure to toxins
- Decrease your stress
- Increase your sleep
Hidden under each of those categories are several subcategories that are interrelated. Remember the jumbo jet dashboard we discussed last week? For example, stress management includes time management, relationship management, expectation management, forgiveness, and several other factors. Toxin management includes what you eat and drink, cleaning products you use, your work and living environments, how you travel, and so on.
Wellness In The Real World
Now, that doesn’t mean Dr. Steve told you to go live like a hermit, eating rice cakes and harvesting dew for drinking. Far from it. We have to conduct our lives in the real world.
What I am telling you is that, before you pop a pill to manage the discomforts in your life, take a minute to look deeper and identify habits that create the environment for that pain to exist in your body.
This is where it’s helpful to sit down with a healthcare provider like me or my colleague, Dr. Jacqueline Romero, and educate yourself on what behaviors contribute to wellness and which ones contribute to disease. You can start with this blog as a research center, but you know as well as I do that it’s easy to gloss over favorite bad habits without the accountability of a trained professional.
The best part of making yourself accountable to someone like Dr. Romero is that, rather than give you a chemical to temporarily treat your symptoms, she will show you how to make the little lifestyle adjustments that will allow your body to heal itself permanently. That’s real wellness and real longevity.
See Her Live At The Next FF&FD
Speaking of Dr. Romero, she will be my guest speaker at the April 12 Fundamental Foods and Friends Dinner. We’ll meet at 6:15 pm at my office behind the YMCA on Pine Ridge Road. I hope you will join us. I really admire the stand she takes for wellness every day, when so much of our culture is crying out for instant cures.
Be sure to RSVP on my Facebook page before you go on with your day. Space is very limited in my little office, and once we are full, I can’t take anymore. Every month, these dinners get a little more crowded because the material my guests present is always so helpful (and delicious).
While you’re at it, please take a few seconds to share this article on your favorite social media channel. There are a lot of people around you who still don’t know they can be healthier.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas