8 Pillars of Health
We have a health crisis in the United States. Last year, 2021, we spent $4.3 trillion on health care. It is the number one cause of bankruptcies in this country. Yet according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, for all that spending, we are ranked fiftieth out of the world’s industrialized nations for health (in every category including infant mortality)! We consume 80% of the world’s drugs yet we make up only 5% of its population. We consume 90% of its opioids and 60% become addicted after only 9 doses. The average American adult takes 4 medications daily. We have been brainwashed into believing there’s a pill for every ill and that side effects which are actually undesirable effects are like Russian roulette with the odds being they will only affect the other guy!
According to the Mayo Clinic Proceedings and Center for Disease Control in 2017, only one adult in one hundred practices most of the habits essential to good health, and two others practice some of the habits. The rest, 97% are chronically ill, overweight, not flourishing, and/or not practicing most essential habits. One of our pitfalls is accepting the idea that we practice everything in moderation. The ambiguity of this belief is that it absolves us of responsibility and moderation has a different connotation to everyone. Further, our health care system treats us under the same umbrella, one size fits all. It fails to take into consideration lifestyle, past history of trauma, stress, etc., and individual differences in chemistry, genetics, and regional exposures to environmental toxins.
We also have been conditioned to fear and misunderstand pain. Pain is not the enemy to be drugged, covered up, or ignored. It is simply a signal your body is using to alert you that something is wrong, whether it is a product of years of bad habits, or of ignoring your body to the point that it is telling you “I am going to make you listen!”, the pain is essentially your body’s oil light, signaling you to stop and take care of yourself. The pain also is the body’s way of directing the chemicals of healing to an area of need.
Our bodies are temples and as such they require attention, there are eight pillars that ensure our good health. If you purchased an expensive sports car you would certainly fill it with premium fuel and be religious with proper maintenance to assure its optimum function and longevity.
Pillar Number 1 – Alignment
Pillar number one is alignment. If you are out of alignment your body cannot be healthy (healthy being functioning 100% physically, mentally, and socially). Our skeletal system has three functions, to support your posture, protect your insides, and to allow flexibility. This balance between flexibility and support comes with a price. The flexibility allows for subluxation (misalignments that interfere with mental impulses, those signals between the body and the brain that allow us to function). Imagine getting a letter in the mail that was left out in the rain. If the ink ran and some of the words were garbled, the message may not be clear and any action required might be misinterpreted. Chiropractic adjustments reconnect our physical with our spiritual allowing you to enjoy robust health.
Pillar Number 2 – Diet
The second pillar is diet, what we eat and drink. A national survey of U.S. adults found that since the pandemic, excessive drinking has increased twenty-one percent and estimates it causes eight thousand additional fatalities. Refined sugar is the number one inflammatory food and it is responsible for wrinkles, excess weight, joint pain, depression, diabetes, dental caries, and certain cancers. Many people start their day with sugary pastries and sugar-laced caffeinated drinks. This initiates a roller coaster internally as your pancreas shoots insulin to deal with the sugar rush. For a short while, you experience an energy surge but soon it causes the opposite, a hypoglycemic swing in which your energy and mood decline rapidly.
White flour along with pretzels, chips, and crackers is another culprit, they are responsible for empty calories, foods that fail to provide nutritional benefit while causing unwanted weight gain. Further, fractionated foods, such as egg whites and skim milk actually promote weight gain because the body finds the incomplete products unsatisfying and actually promotes overeating. As deleterious to our health and wellbeing as sugar is (think minutes of pleasure for hours of discomfort) artificial sweeteners are even more toxic and should be avoided at any cost.
We are the only species on earth that consumes the lactation product of another species even into adulthood. In spite of the hype about calcium, we actually cannot absorb the calcium from cow’s milk because we lack the bovine enzymes. If you think about it, cows eat grass yet their milk is laced with calcium, and elephants who are herbivores grow tusks made of pure calcium. Phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables are natural cancer fighters and should constitute a large portion of our diets. We need to avoid preservatives and genetically modified foods and should look for organic food whenever possible. Even with perfect diets (which very few of us can maintain), we should consider supplementation, particularly with Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, and vitamin D. Realize that popular diets may not be good for every person because one size does not fit all in health.
Pillar Number 3 – Exercise
The third pillar is exercise. Our bodies are designed to move, to be used. I call it Vitamin X. There are three components to an ideal exercise program, cardiovascular, weight-bearing, and flexibility. Cardiovascular exercise should be performed for 20-30 consecutive minutes 3-4 times per week. It can be as simple as walking. Weight-bearing exercise should consist of light weights (even soup cans) anywhere from one to ten pounds. We lose a portion of our bone density every year and studies have verified that simple weightlifting can reverse that loss. It can be as simple as bicep curls (flexing of the arm at the elbow), triceps extension (drawing straight arms behind the body), and overhead presses (raising arms straight up) each performed for 3 sets of 10, 3 times per week. Flexibility, gently elongating our bodies, reaching toward our toes with knees bent, rotating our upper bodies in both directions, and turning and tilting your head in both directions are performed gently once every day. This allows your lymphatic system to circulate and it keeps your spine healthy.
Pillar Number 4 – Sleep
Pillar number four is sleep. Our nerve system is divided into two portions, sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is there for action, if confronted by danger it activates the fight, flight, or fright response, pumping adrenalin and producing energy to respond to the crisis whether to run or attack. However our stressors today tend to be less physical than in the past, and the energy produced by the adrenals needs to be burned off (law of conservation of matter and energy). The body efficiently accomplishes this by tensing large muscle groups, between the shoulders, along the back, and the jaw. However, if chronic the body becomes so tense that it loses the ability to relax and this leads to disharmony and disease.
The parasympathetic nerves are responsible for rest and digestion. This is when the body regenerates and heals. When the body is in the parasympathetic mode it allows for heart rate variability, a state of health that the body requires to adapt to the constant changes in its environment. We tend to be in sympathetic dominant mode, tense, stressed, and fatigued. Oftentimes we associate this condition with type A personalities. While the ideal condition is a balance of the two systems, it is best to tend toward the parasympathetic as much as possible.
Sleep is a critical component and most people require six to eight consecutive hours a night. We benefit if we stick to a nighttime routine preferably turning off any electronic devices (TVs, phones, computers, etc.) a half-hour before retiring, keeping our bedrooms dark because melatonin, the chemical of relaxation is suppressed by blue light (the light emitted by the devices). They make glasses with a red tint for this purpose and wearing them for an hour before bed helps reverse this effect. I use glasses made by a company called BLUblox available online.
Pillar Number 5 – Community
Pillar five is community. We are truly herd animals and need the support of others. According to Brian Clement, co-director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach “a lot of the reason people are sick is because they lack intimacy, touch, and tenderness.” Cross-cultural studies demonstrate that societies that provide infants with a great deal of physical and bodily contact produce relatively non-violent adults. Our brains crave physical contact in two forms: tender physical contact given with respect and warmth, and emotional contact given tacitly simply from being attentive and caring.
If you ever shared your life with a dog, you experienced firsthand its love of physical contact. The touch stimulates its mechanoreceptors and excites its brain tissue. It also signals love and caring and we all need to feel appreciated and loved. Touch allows our electromagnetic fields to intermingle when our fields come into proximity (different distances for each of us). This is a form of acceptance. When a baby is born, he or she responds to proximity, if moved too far away from Mom, the child will react and not be calmed until placed within a more proximate distance.
Pillar Number 6 – Thoughts
Pillar number six is thoughts. Thoughts are things. If our friends spoke to us the way we speak to ourselves they would not be our friends for long. When we associate with pessimists and downers, it lowers our vibration and lower vibration brings lower health expression. When we use negative words such as I will not procrastinate, the brain only interprets I will procrastinate. We need to think and talk positively, reprogramming our thoughts such as I will deal with issues efficiently and promptly as they arise.
Pillar Number 7 – Purpose
Pillar number seven is purpose. Having a purpose is critical and gives us a reason for waking up and a sense of satisfaction. Did you ever notice that buying things that are supposed to make us happy like a fancy car doesn’t really make us happy, but doing constructive things like gardening, building things, or even washing that car will give us satisfaction? Having a purpose also involves helping others, being charitable, and doing good deeds. Victor Frankl wrote in the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” about Holocaust survivors, stating that “those who have a way to live can survive almost any how.”
Pillar Number 8 – Spirituality
Our final pillar is spirituality. We are part of something far greater than we can imagine. Our finite brains cannot comprehend this infinite concept but it is obvious that there is an organization to nature that didn’t just happen. To truly connect with spirit requires practicing gratitude, forgiveness, understanding, and respect. Daily expression of gratitude for even little things raises our vibration and simply generates good feelings. Forgiveness is critical, it has been said that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Sadly, we have been educated to accept only the tangible, the visible, and the obvious (thanks Rene Descartes), and to grasp the infinite we have to meditate by clearing our minds of thoughts and simply being. Reading Lois Herman’s “Chronicles of Hope” series can assist you in gaining insight into this subject and can be done in excerpts and in any order.
In summary, we have been gifted an amazing body and blessed with an incredible operating system on duty 24/7/365 that chiropractors have named Innate Intelligence. While it is perfect and requires nothing, the body it regulates is subject to physical laws and limitations. We have a moral responsibility to take care of ourselves so we will not become burdens but rather be solutions to the aforementioned crisis.
James Peck, DC
Contact information: Partner Resources – Lois Hermann & Associates
For more insight, be sure to listen to the Inspiring Hope with Lois Hermann Radio show where Jim and Lois discuss Rational Health.