Wednesday, July 06, 2011

From My Sketchbook: Why Being "Free of Symptoms" is not Enough.

By Christian Wernstedt

[My paleo journey, which I begun in 2008, didn't only change my health for the better, but also how I was thinking about health and the human body. In 2010, I formed a company to put these ideas into practice. This is another piece that I wrote recently for the blog of my health education- and consultancy company, VitalObjectives. /CW]

Some crude sketches here, but these are points that I just feel that I have to get across because there is so much misunderstanding about what health is, and how it relates to symptoms.

The Normal (or what should be): The Body in Perfect Health.

  • Proper nourishment exceeds the body's requirements for dealing with the level of stress it faces.
  • The "homestatic pendulum" (as illustrated above) swings effortlessly and with great flexibility in response to stressors of different kinds.
  • The body is responding successfully to stress from different directions without internal resource depletion. (This is a key point.)
  • The person experiences great energy, great mental and physical function, and no persistent symptoms of any kind.
The Body in an Early Stage of Chronic Stress. (Or
what commonly passes for ”health”.)
  • Stress exceeds the incoming nourishment required to fight it.
  • The body gets increasingly stuck fighting one or more stressors without enough recuperation. Resource depletion begins to occur.
  • Homeostatic flexibility and balance are gradually lost. A common cold can make the person under the weather for days or weeks.
  • The person feels mostly OK, but something seems to be amiss…

  • The Body in a Late Stage of Chronic Stress. (This is most people past the age of 30, which drives me nuts, given the health that I know is possible.)

  • Stress continues to exceed required incoming nourishment, and resources have become depleted.
  • In one or more respects, the body is in a sustained state outside the bounds of normal homeostasis.
  • The symptomatic threshold is permanently crossed, and symptoms become persistent.
  • Symptoms begin to bother the person and/or his doctor.

  • Implications:
    1. Symptoms are the last thing to appear when the body gets out of balance. (When and how chronic symptoms occur is a matter of a person's internal resource reserves and his genetic propensities.)
    2. Being symptom free is not to be healthy. (Say after me, slowly: ”being symptom free is not to be healthy”. Once more: "being symptom free is not to be healthy!!" - Thanks!)
    3. Getting rid of overt symptoms is not enough to stop a degenerative process. (Finding and removing stressors, while restoring nourishment is the only way to do it.)
    4. Most people spend time going back and forth (usually with the help of the corner pharmacy or their doctor) between the early- and late stages of chronic stress. However, since the ratio between stressors and nourishment is never corrected, people become more and more symptomatic, and lose more and more homeostatic flexibility. Homeostatic flexibility is the hallmark of life. When it goes to zero, you are dead.
    5. So called ”health care” commonly concerns itself with returning people from the symptomatic stage to the early stage of chronic stress, but does not at all help people return to perfect health.

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