Thursday, November 26, 2009

Healing Reality

On this Thanksgiving I am thinking of all I have to be grateful for - friends, patients, family, health and happiness. I’m not one who is so big on holidays but this one seems a little more full, a little more poignant with all that’s going on in the world. Gratitude is an important part of healing of any sorts - whether its physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual challenges or any other challenge we face called life. And a day to celebrate that and bring our attention to that seems like a good thing to celebrate. 

We need healing right now - individually, culturally, and across the globe. At a fundamental level I think its a healing between mind and heart. It SEEMS easier to choose what we think we should do rather than what our heart is telling us to do. But that is just a habit. The heart is primary - it started beating days into our conception without any body or blood yet developed. So I think this is where we find healing - in our heart, and gratitude and love are the primary emotions that live here. This if not just metaphorical. 

There is a Healing Reality in all of us all of the time - a bright source of light, a mystery which is bigger and brighter than our apparent physical being but its intimately connected with who we are physically, emotionally, energetically, physiologically. This is my journey - to learn and give myself to this Healing Reality. And I am very grateful for all the people willing to share this journey and find out together what this is. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Capitalism vs. Our Health

One of the things that has become apparent to me is that at least part of the issue is that we are dealing culturally with the apparent conflict between capitalism and public health. One public health doctor in Florida was fired from his job because he equated what I will call junk food - donuts in particular - with death. Before he was fired he also equated hamburgers and french fries with a fat waistline and big thighs.

Why do I call it junk food? This may seem obvious to some and just what is to others but the distinction is important. There are many foods that are “empty calories” - lots of fat and sugar in this case but no nutrients. No vitamins, no minerals, no phytochemicals, no antioxidants. Why is this important? Because really our bodies are happiest with all those wonderful and varied phytochemicals. Plants developed them to survive all kinds of hostile environments to protect themselves from heat, drought, disease, animals, etc. because they cannot move to change environments like animals can. And we as humans have evolved eating those plants and they help regulate our cells and their metabolism and make our cells and therefore us happy.

As David Kessler says in his new book, The End of Overeating, evolutionarily we have evolved to recognize, crave and fixate on fats, sugar and salt. Those staples are the reason we have survived as a race. These high energy and high calorie foundations have helped give us the boost to run from tigers and our enemies, to have creative bursts of energy when we didn’t have to focus only on survival. But really the foundation of our diets are the plants - the roots, leaves, seeds, flowers and fruits of those evolutionary beauties who watch us move all over the earth looking for home.

If we have those things we can eat the fat, sugar and salt but if we don’t have that as a foundation, our cells turn on different sets of genes and we get sick. We get sick with chronic diseases - diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, strokes, autoimmune diseases, alzheimers, cancer.

You see, we used to die of infectious diseases - cholera, tuberculosis, malaria, pneumonia. Now in some areas of the world these are still major issues, and in the US there are still a few every year who succumb to these causes. But in the US really our main causes of death are cancer and heart disease/stroke and these are preventable and reversible if we look at our root history, our evolutionary history and do what we need to do to change our path.

So where does capitalism come into this? Right now the rules seem to favor big business - Oprah can get sued for saying not to eat meat by the meat industry and a public health doctor can lose his job for aggressively marketing against junk foods. Collectively there is an incredible force against those foods which are healthy - no one is making big money off of organic vegetables or whole grains. They can’t be patented or processed and repackaged. They are perfect as they are.

But I know there are individuals within the system who are concerned about this and who want to make a difference. I’ve met a program director at Aetna who is looking at the value of functional medicine in prevention and treatment and I’ve met a CEO of one of the major Blue Cross organizations who really cares and wants to use insurance for its purpose - to help people who are sick. So my challenge is to those individuals to stand up and stand out and seek out others who have like minds for the greatest challenge and creative purpose at this particular moment. We have the greatest opportunity to use all of our collective history - to look at all the government run health programs around the world - look at their good points and bad points; look at all the incredible information we have from science including the information from functional medicine and companies such as Metagenics, Xymogen and Thorne and see what works to prevent disease and reverse it. And we have an incredible public health system and hospital system which works when we need it - when there are emergencies of all kinds. So how can that be part of the picture and not the whole picture?

By using our creative ability to look both deeply at the major issues and look widely at creative solutions we can come up with a new way to look at health care which will be the epitome of what is possible now. That can be our legacy for the future of this world. Others can look to us and know the challenges that created the particular pieces which led to this breakthrough. This is how capitalism can actually promote health. How exciting is that?

I’ll be exploring more in future blogs about the joy our bodies experience with phytochemicals...