Friday, December 30, 2011

The Arts of Healthiness

Some people think I am against conventional medicines and techniques, and in favour of alternative medicines and techniques.  Not.

I am student of science, and of the arts. I believe in a scientific and an artistic approach to the studies of healthiness.

This diagram on our planet represents the layers of our healthiness, from our genetics to the highest levels of our communities.  Each body is comprised of the layers of the hierarchy of health; genetics, nutrients, cells, etc to the entire body. Each person is more than their body, having a spirit and existing in many communities.  Each of the layers is hierarchical, built on the layers below.  Each layer is greater than the sum of the parts below. All health is connected. Each layer can have an effect, positive or negative, on the health of layers above or below.

Illness is represented by red spots. Illness is isolated by its causes, although can affect all health areas. Illness might exist in a single layer, or cross layers.

Healthiness is larger than illness and disease.  Health is about the whole being, and includes illnesses. We all have some illness. Illness can exist in a single layer, be caused by a single factor, or may exist in many layers and might be caused by many  interacting factors. 

Our medical systems are very sophisticated, with surgical precision, not just in surgery, and scientific rigor. They are designed to search for illness, to identify illnesses, and to search for causes of illness and for treatments.

But they don't search for health. Strange? or normal? Health is all around, but we don't see it.  We are so busy looking for illness - that we can't see health for disease. We don't search for causes of healthiness. The tools we use to measure illness are very sophisticated.  We can use MRI to peer into the body and spot tumors before the cause any problems.  We have standardized tests for blood and tissues to search for signs of illness. The tools we use to measure healthiness are very rudimentary. This is because our understanding of health is very rudimentary.  It is also because the search for illness facilitates and forces a focus of attention.  If we are searching for cancer, we can look for spots that look like cancer. We focus our attention on those spots.

In the diagram above, you can search for illness in the red spots.  Of course illness in your body is not hi-lighted in red, but it stands out from the norm.  Our scientific processes search for something that is 'not normal' when we search for illness.

If you are searching for health, in the diagram above - where will you look?  Health is everywhere.  Even in the places where there is illness.  It is everywhere, and nowhere to be found. Because we assume that 'normal' is healthy - we neglect to measure healthiness. Each state of healthiness has a range that can be measured and should be measured to facilitate healthy targets.

We need to develop powerful scientific tools to understand and measure health.  And when we do - we will gain a much better understanding of illness.

There is a potential danger in our search for health.  The fields of illness, diagnosis, treatment, etc. have been doctopolized (doctor monopolized) by our medical systems.  It is illegal for a non-doctor to diagnose illness, to design, implement, produce or sell treatments, or in any way to 'practice medicine'.  This monopoly is created and upheld on the theory that it minimizes risk to patients. But it has been extended so far that it increases risk for some patients.

In our studies of health - we must not make this same mistake.  We must make it better, not worse.  My blog is about health freedom.  I believe in medical freedom as well.  Illness is a subset of health. Medicine is a subset of healthicine.

We need an open investigation of health and healthiness to understand and improve individual health and health of our communities. We need to apply our science to learn about health.  But not just science.  One of the problems with our medical systems is 'over scientification'. A reliance on science's ability to separate right from wrong. To avoid the wide grey areas we don't understand.  Health exists in the areas we don't understand. Our reliance on 'clinical studies' of illness and treatment has been extended so far that it is no longer science.  Medical science has become dogma, not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from or challenged - even when it is clearly deficient or incorrect.

We need to develop a science of health and healthiness.  And we need to go beyond that.  Science gives us techniques and tools of measurement.  Science gives us frameworks to understand and to develop further understandings.  But the structure of science limits the boundaries of a search. Science focuses our attention, but limits our view. We don't want to limit the boundaries of our search for healthiness.

We need to study and explore the arts of health.   Individually and collectively.

Science might, someday, tell us what nutrients are essential to health, and what amounts of each are optimal.  But nutrients compliment and conflict with each other. We need people to create and develop foods, meals, diets and supplements that help us to consume healthy nutrients in a healthy fashion. Then we can use science to measure the results.

Artists are the people who create things. 

There are many arts of health.  Music creation, expression, collaboration, and enjoyment are arts of healthiness.  When we are ill, music helps us heal.  When we are well, music makes us better.  When we sing, we feel. Dance is the art of movement - the art of body health. When we create our own dance, we improve our own health. When we dance, we heal. All movement is dance, the dance of life. The creation of dance takes our health to a higher plane. Drawing, painting, designing, writing -- creating; creating is art. Creating is healthy. We need to move our communities from consumption to creation.  To move our focus from productivity to creativity. From commerce to arts. For the health of it.

When we create, we are creating health. We need to create the science and art of healthiness. And then, maybe, we can truly learn the arts of medicines. As long as medicine remains solely the field of technicians - it will continually fail to reach our highest expectations.

We want our children to create beauty.  We want them to be artists - to rise above the mundane creations of builders, factory workers and technicians. We want them to live a better, healthier life.  We are all children.

yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Monday, December 19, 2011

I won't make it out to work today, I've got two colds and a flu.

I won't make it out to work today,
I've got two colds and a flu.
I'm sniffing and sneezing,
My head's all stuffed up.
And now I'm hot, and cold too.

My body is aching,
My bones they are creaking,
I'm barfing and running to poo.
I can't make it out to work today,
I've got two colds and a flu.
(and I think I'm hung-over too...)

Did you ever have two colds at once?  How would you know? There are over 100 different types of virus that can cause a cold... Surely it is possible to get a cold, and then to get another cold within a few hours, or days, or even a week.

I always wondered about the folk wisdom:

"with proper treatment, you can cure a cold in 7 days,
if you leave it alone, it will go away in a week".

But sometimes a cold lasts 10 days, or two weeks, or maybe longer.  Maybe a 10 day cold is really a 7 day cold and another 7 day cold on day 3 of the first day?  Maybe a three week cold is actually three weak colds?

Maybe it's unfortunate that colds are so common, and so easily cured that few have noticed 'two colds at once'?

And what if you have a cold, and then you get the flu?  Or if you have the flu, and then you get the cold?  Can you have two flus (that doesn't even look like a word) at once?

How many different kind of flu are out there at once? Flu tends to go in waves, epidemics, so in general there is only one wave passing through - although it is possible to get two if you are in a flu area when another wave comes thru.  I think two flu infections are more serious than two colds.

Which is worse, a cold and a flu?  Or a flu and a cold?

No matter which comes first, I'm suspect it weakens your resistance to the other.

But maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe the first one puts your immune system on high alert - and therefore second is weaker.  I'm not sure I want to volunteer for this type of medical study.....

Take care this Christmas season, to your health, tracy
Personal Health Freedom

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

ps. I'm not sick. I had this silly poem running around in my head.  And I retired 3 years ago, so I don't have to go out to work today, although there are lot of Christmas chores. I just had to share...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Measurement of Healthiness Part 1: Measurements, Summaries and Goals

How can we measure healthiness?

Healthiness must be measured comprehensively, using the hierarchy of health. We need to measure many components in each layer in the hierarchy: genetics, nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirits and communities, to create a useful measure of healthiness.

There are many different types of 'health measurement', some of which are more appropriate, more accurate, and more effective than others.

Direct vs Indirect Measurements
It is silly to measure brightness by searching shadows, and superficial to measure healthiness by searching sicknesses.

Health measurements should measure healthiness as directly as possible. Resting heart rate is a direct measurement of healthiness. Heart rate after exercise is a measurement of strength, not a measurement of healthiness.  Erratic heart rate is a measure of illness, not a direct measurement of healthiness, although it can be a useful indirect measurement of healthiness.

Illness and death measurements and statistics are indirect measurements of health, and should be viewed with caution. Death statistics and illness statistics might measure healthiness of a community, or not.  Improvements in medicine can help people live longer without actually increasing their healthiness. Improvements in, or changes to diagnostic protocols can increase illness statistics without actually decreasing healthiness.

Tests against a Scale vs Binary Measurements

Scales of healthiness are more useful than yes/no answers. A effective healthiness scale clearly identifies and quantifies the grey areas that exist in all aspects of health. It is much more powerful, from a health point of view, to say 'your pulse rate is 10 percent above your optimum'. Of course it is extremely difficult to identify optimum health measurements for different groups of people and more difficult for individuals. Difficult should not stop us from trying.

Tests that provide results on a scale, need independent scoring for variations above and below the optimum goal. If your pulse target is 50 beats per minute - and your heart rate is 50 bpm below the target - you are dead.  But if your heart rate is 50 above the target, it is still within the 'acceptable' range from an illness point of view. You could easily be alive with a heart rate well above 100 bpm.

Objective over Subjective

Health measurements that are more objective are preferred over subjective measurements, although both may be relevant. A measurement of your pulse rate by a professional, even by an amateur, is a more accurate and useful measurement than asking - does your heart seem to beat faster than it should?

Targets should be Health Oriented, not Illness Avoidance Oriented

As discussed in a prior blog post: Are You Measuring Illness or Healthiness? a measurement of your pulse that is intended to detect illness uses a different target than a healthiness measurement.  If you are not ill, your resting pulse might be somewhere in a wide range, from 60 to 100 beats per minute. The result of the illness test is binary - you are in the healthy range (healthy) or not (ill). A healthiness test, on the other hand, will have a target - which might be 50 beats per minute - and detect the amount of deviation from the health target - giving a result on a scale.

Avoid tests with Short Term Temporary Variations

A test of alertness is not a test of healthiness - it may be a test of how awake the subject is, or how much coffee or alcohol they have consumed in the last few hours. It is not a test of healthiness. A measurement of illness needs to know 'are you sick right now'.  A measurement of healthiness is more useful if it tells 'how healthy you are this month', ignoring the temporary, short term deviations. Resting pulse rate is more relevant than 'randomly tested pulse rate'.

Summary Measurements

Because the measurement of healthiness is in its infancy, we have not developed any techniques to summarize different measurements to create a healthiness profile for each layer in the hierarchy, nor a overall healthiness profile. As we learn to measure healthiness - we will learn which measurements more accurately represent overall healthiness, and which are less useful.  A fundamental goal for summary measurements is to ensure that the summary for each layer is on a scale of zero to 100 percent.

Multiple Goals are Required

It is important that health scales, against which a measurement is compared, be as comprehensive as possible.  A measurement of Vitamin C consumption might compare the result of the measurement against the minimum RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), the minimum RDI (Recommended Daily Intake), the maximum UL (Upper Limit) as well as optimal recommendations from various sources.  At this time - there are no officially recognized optimal rates for consumption of Vitamin C for healthiness. We must rely on the best available sources - and not throw up our hands in resignation.

Each person must have the freedom to make their own decisions, and even adjust their own goals, based on information available from multiple sources.  It will be valuable to compare analysis using different sources of target goals.

Presentation of Results

Analysis of the results of a series of healthiness measurements will require sophisticated techniques, that change as we learn more about healthiness.  It is essential that healthiness measurements be stored in a computer system so that they can easily be brought forward and re-analyzed as theory develops.  Let's look at a hypothetical subject: Alice.

Alice has many aspects of her healthiness measured today, and scores calculated for each layer in the HH (Hierarchy of Health). The measurements - are clearly defined. The calculated scores are based on current knowledge about healthiness.

In two years, Alice might have her healthiness tested again. There may be more measurements taken, and some might be no longer considered relevant - therefore not measured. The scoring algorithm will have changed as well. Over time, our knowledge about healthiness will change - but the measurements made today are historical and do not change.

When Alice receives her results, two years from today she will receive a fresh analysis of her healthiness at each level in the hierarchy - and an overall healthiness result.

She will also want to have a comparison of her new results with today's results - based on the new analysis model.  Of course the new model will may have different measurements - some new and possibly some missing.

An effective comparison must compare the measurements that are the same, and if possible extrapolate some measurements that are missing - and then prepare a comparative analysis based on the measurements that are common. This is clearly a job for a computer program - which will also evolve over time as we learn more about meta-healthiness.

Measurement of Healthiness - Current Status

It is clear that we do not measure healthiness in any comprehensive fashion today.  It may be a long time before we develop efficient and effective techniques to measure healthiness. We do have some individual measurements of healthiness, but even those are suspect and may be very poor quality. We have not yet analyzed any health measurements to determine if they are effective in measuring healthiness.

Health Freedom

I believe we might never have absolute answers about health and healthiness.  There will, and should always be, conflicting ideas and opinions.  Each individual must make their own decisions and must be free to make decisions affecting their healthiness. We have much room for our knowledge to grow.

yours in health, tracy
Personal Health Freedom

ps. If you enjoy my posts, please share - and you might LIKE my facebook page

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are you measuring Illness, or Healthiness? Healthiness does not exist.

To be ill is to be afflicted with a specific sickness, disease or other health condition.
An illness is a specific sickness, disease or other health condition.

To be sick is to be afflicted with a specific illness, disease or other health condition.
A sickness is a specific illness, disease or other health condition.

Healthy is enjoying vigor and health of body, mind or spirit.  (Merriam-Webster)

according to Merriam-Webster, the word 'healthiness' does not exist - you are re-directed to 'healthy' in the online version of the dictionary. Similarly, Wikipedia does not have an entry for healthiness - it simply re-directs you to healthy.

Healthiness needs to be defined if we are to measure it.

Healthiness is a specific incidence, or measurement, of health. Overall healthiness is a summary of measurements of health. 

There are another words that may cause confusion.  Ill-health and unhealthiness, for example. What do they mean? What should they mean? I will deliberately avoid these words when possible.  Ill-health is actually, according to Merriam-Webster "some disease is present, but".  It is a state of illness, not a state of health.  Unhealthiness is also, according to Merriam-Webster "not in good health, sickly or diseased". e.g. Both words can be replaced with ill or illness - of varying degrees.

We are very familiar with some specific illness/health measurements, most notably, the four vital signs - body temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate.

In each case there is a healthy range - and two unhealthy ranges, deficient and excessive. A measurement of your vital signs can be a measurement of your healthiness - or your unhealthiness.

How can we tell if we are measuring healthiness or illness? We find what we are looking for.

When scientists were studying light, trying to understand the behavior of light, they found an interesting result.  There were two competing theories.  Light consists of particles.  Light consists of waves. Scientists found that, if they tested for particles - they were able to prove that light consisted of particles.  And when they tested for waves - they were able to prove that light consisted of waves.

Then it got more complicated. Scientists were able to design a door that only let one particle of light through at once.  Then they tested for waves - and waves were found.

They concluded that whether light acts like a particle or a wave - the nature of light depends on what you measure, not on a fundamental property of light.

And so it is with healthiness and illness. If we are searching for health, we measure healthiness. If we are searching for ills - we measure illness.

Almost every time someone measures your temperature, temperature, blood pressure, or respiration - they are checking for illness.   If we ask someone to check our health status - and they start by testing our temperature, our pulse, etc... We might assume they are checking for illness.

In isolation, a single measurement, or even all four measurements provide minimal information about your level of health - although each might, even in isolation, provide significant information or indication about your level of sickness.

If you are healthy, all four measurements; pulse, respiration, blood pressure, and temperature might be in the 'normal range' - you will have no useful information about your level of healthiness. If you are sick - one or more of these measurements may be outside of the normal range, indicating illness.

Specific healthiness measurements may indicate illness or sickness, suggesting further investigation and diagnosis - but specific measurements do not effectively measure healthiness.

An interesting detail about these four measurements is that they are compared to 'normal ranges', not to 'healthy ranges' nor to 'optimal ranges'. These so called 'normal ranges', are 'ranges that indicate no illness has been detected'.

Healthy ranges, and optimal ranges have not been identified - and it may be that optimal ranges are different, narrower or broader than the normal range - optimal ranges have not been studied scientifically for individuals nor groups.

Let's look at Resting Pulse Rate in more detail. A normal adult pulse rate ranges from 60 to 100 bpm.  This might lead you to assume, incorrectly, that the optimal rate is the mid-point between 60 and 100, e.g. about 80 bpm.

Actually, lower 'normal' measurements, for all four vital signs, indicate healthier status than higher 'normal' measurements - when we are measuring healthiness. Athletes have a normal pulse rate much lower than 'normal adults'.  Athletes however, put their focus on strength, and in competitions on 'peak performance' which may actually be detrimental to overall healthiness.

It is very difficult to identify an 'optimal pulse rate' for the general population - and many qualifiers might be required when applying this rate to individual persons. e.g. It might depend on height, weight, blood pressure, an even 'size of the heart'.

How might we measure health? How might we measure 'overall healthiness'?

Like the scientists searching for waves, or particles, we must know what we are searching for.

If we are searching for illness - we will not measure healthiness. We will not find healthiness - we will only find illness or 'normal' e.g. 'no illness'.

The way to measure healthiness - is to ensure that our goal is healthiness.  If our goal is the elimination of disease or illness - we need to measure illness.

When our goal is optimization of health - we will measure healthiness.  When we suspect illness - we can switch our goals back to measuring and fighting illness.

When we are healthy - our goal should be to measure, and to improve our healthiness.

Actually, we need to measure healthiness and illness, both - throughout our lives. It is important to measure our illness - even when we think we are healthy, with prevention as our objective.  Similarly, it is important to measure our healthiness when we are ill - to determine the most effective treatments.

But we should not confuse the measurement of illness with the measurement of healthiness. Even the exact same measurement - pulse for example, will give different information and recommendations, depending on our goal - optimization of healthiness vs detection of illness.

A measurement of pulse from an illness point of view might detect a rapid pulse, in an emergency situation. If your illness pulse is too high, further investigation is required. You may need some medication and relaxation to lower your pulse. Or perhaps you have lost blood and need an injection of fluids.

A measurement of pulse from a healthiness point of view might observe that your pulse is high, that it could be lower. If your health pulse is to high, exercise might be recommended to reduce your pulse, by increasing your healthiness.

The illness researcher (medical doctor) detects rapid pulse - recommends calmness, further investigation and possibly treatment.  A healthiness researcher measures rapid pulse and recommends exercise. Almost exactly opposite recommendations - based on different measurements of pulse, which detected - 'rapid pulse'.  Note: the medical, or illness definition of 'rapid pulse' is a different, higher number, than the healthiness definition of 'rapid pulse'.

Our current measurements of illness are very sophisticated. Our current measurements of health are of very poor quality - almost non-existent.  Our measurements of illness can be summarized, creating meta-information, to distinguish between many different diseases, and variations of disease.  Our measurements of healthiness are seldom summarized to create useful meta-information. The field of medicine is very well developed.  The field of health is just in its infancy.

We need to measure healthiness, to optimize our health. 

yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Personal Health Freedom

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Are the richest people the healthiest people?

You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness. Should you have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of the 1 percent. Will it improve your health - if you improve your personal wealth?

Are the 1 percent wealthiest people also the healthiest 1 percent? It's an interesting question.

You might think that people who are very wealthy would want to use that wealth to improve their health.  Maybe it's true.

Are they healthier?  There is no evidence that the wealthiest 1 percent are any healthier than the rest of us.  There two reasons why they might never be the healthiest.

Let's suppose you are a member of the 1 percent wealthiest in your country - and you want to know if you are also a member of the 1 percent healthiest.

Who do you ask? What test(s) can you take?  Where can you go to find an answer? Who can reliably measure your health - and tell you if you are in the top 1 percent?  No-one.  Nowhere.

Your doctor might say something like 'you are a picture of health', 'you are as healthy as someone 5 or 10 years younger', or 'you are very healthy, but you need to quit smoking'. Do these measurements actually mean anything?  Do they have any scientific validity?  No.  We don't measure health.  If you are sick - you are not healthy.  Otherwise, you are healthy.  Our health measurements are, for the most part, binary.  Yes or no.  You are healthy, or not.

The first reason you cannot be the healthiest is a technical reason. We don't measure healthiness.  Therefore, there is no scientific evidence. There is no scientifically accepted technique, not even a scientific prototype technique for measuring overall health. So, we can't tell if any individual, or any income group, is healthier.  We might assume that the poorest people are less healthy - and it make sense to assume.  But assumptions can be wrong.  We need to measure. We do have some measurements for individual components of health - but there is no agreement, no research into which items are most important to healthiness.  And there's the medical vs health issue.  Most so called 'health measurements' are actually measurements of 'illness'.

We measure sickness.  We measure illness and then extrapolate, under the assumption that people who are less sick are more healthy. This can lead to useful, but also to ridiculous analyses. The World Health Organization, for the most part, measures illness.  The closest their statistics come to measuring health are the measurements of life expectancy.

Is a measurement of life expectancy a measurement of healthiness?  It provides useful information in the study of large groups, but for smaller groups, or individuals - it is almost useless. What use is a health measurement that can only be executed after you are dead?

Is it possible, you might ask, that members of the 1 percent are the healthiest - but we just don't measure it? Frankly, no. How do we know?  We know because we do measure illness - and the wealthiest 1 percent are not the 'least ill'.  Measurements of illness are NOT measurements of healthiness, but we can expect some correlation. eg. The people who are 'most healthy' should also be the people who are 'least ill'.  Richard Wilkinson has demonstrated that, among the richest nations, there is a huge spread in 'unhealthiness' - with Japan and Sweden having very low unhealthiness - while the UK and the US have very high levels of unhealthiness. He has concluded that this spread is largely due to unequal distribution of wealth.  And he has also demonstrated that in countries with huge wealth - and large inequities between wealth of individuals - even the wealthiest individuals have more unhealthiness.

The second reason that the 1 percent are probably not the healthiest is, "you can't buy healthiness". There is no need to ask "Does money make unhealthiness more bearable."  The question is moot.  Money should be used to create healthiness, not to make in more bearable.

If you look again at the hierarchy of health - it is clear that you can't buy healthiness with money. The layers in the hierarchy of health: genetics, nutrition, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirit and community. 

You can buy nutrients, which have potential to produce healthy cells, tissues, organs, systems, body and mind. But dollars will not help you to buy the healthiest nutrients - because we (our scientists) don't have any idea which are healthiest.  There is constant debate about which foods are healthiest, and which are the unhealthiest.

The debate about which foods are healthiest is often confused with similar debates about: which foods 'cure illness'; and which foods might 'prevent illness'; - both lists which might be very different foods than those which are healthiest. It makes sense that some 'unhealthy' foods might cure an 'illness', by killing it - and leaving you alive.

And if we do learn which foods are healthiest?  Maybe the best won't be to your taste.

Even if you consume the best nutrients, your body and mind need physical and mental stress (exercise) to help you attain optimal health. This takes time and energy - and you can't pay someone else to do it for you.  But more important - we (our scientists) don't know which exercises are best for your body, and which are best for your mind, nor the most appropriate frequency. And the theoretically best stresses - might not be your favorite.  Each person needs to find the best for themselves, with some guidance from science.

And what about spiritual healthiness?  Can you buy it with money?  Or do we find that the people who are most healthy spiritually - care the least about money?  We can't measure genetic, or nutritional health effectively - how can we possibly learn to measure spiritual health scientifically? Does the Pope have a healthy spirit?  Do religious leaders have healthy spirits? Does the Dalai Lama have the healthiest spirit? We know that the person with the strongest muscles might not be the healthiest person.  Does the person with the strongest spirit have the healthiest spirit? An interesting question.

And community healthiness?  Can your health be optimal if you live in an unhealthy community? We each live in many communities.  Our family, our friends, our clubs and organizations, our various levels of government, our country and the community of our planet.

Ultimately, each of our communities - even the communities of our enemies, and people who we don't understand, is part of our largest community - the community of humans.

Do you wonder why a wealthy lawyer might leave his wealth generating career and move to a cabin in the backwoods?  Maybe it increases his healthiness.  Was Henry David Thoreau, while in his cabin in the woods, healthier than the factory worker, or market farmer, or the town mayor - each of which made more money than he. Did their money make them healthier?  Do people who win the lottery become healthier?  Or do they spend more money on medicines.

With money, you can buy medicines to help with illness, and medicines to help you deal with symptoms, but you can't buy healthiness.  Each of us  must find our own way to our own level of healthiness.

You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness.

yours in health, tracy
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Personal Health Freedom

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Healthy Dying - How do you want to die?

Sherwin B. Nuland, in his book The Art of Aging, answers the question.  We know, he tells us, how we want to die.

We want to be healthy, and then die quickly.  No-one wants to linger for years, becoming more and more decrepit, dirty, dependent, and unhealthy until we finally fade away.

He says "There are those, of course, who would like to die 'all at once,' but others who would prefer a short period of decline, provided it is not at all like the agonizing waning that so many suffer today."

And then he goes on to tell us how this can be achieved. Not suicide. Exercise.

When we maintain our health through exercise - we maintain or entire body, mind and spirit in a healthier balance. Exercise enhances our appetite as well as our digestive system.  Awareness and alertness is increased. We feel, and we are, healthier and happier.

I have often wondered whether it is more effective, in the long, long term, to exercise regularly, or to exercise in fits and spurts - for health and longevity. If we only get 'so many breaths', or 'so many calories' before we die - then exercising too frequently might 'burn them up'. This could result in a trade-off of strength vs longevity.  It may be that if we exercise more frequently throughout our lives - we are stronger and more balanced, but we 'burn out' sooner.  Or maybe not. I suspect none of us will know the answer before we die - so each of us is to make our own, personal exercise choices.

Personally, I tend to drift for a few years with adequate levels of exercise, and then every five years or so I jump into a heavy exercise routine and raise my strength and fitness significantly.  Then, after a few months, or perhaps even a year, I start to drift downwards again.

I'm glad I have a wife who is more driven.  She pulls me to exercise - I want to be with her and she pushes herself to exercise.  Otherwise I might drift lower before I get back to intensive exercise.

Many of us need a coach every once in a while, to push our exercise healthiness to a new level.  What Sherwin found among the elderly is very interesting.  Even amoung the very old, a push (or perhaps better described as assistance or encouragement) to exercise regularly helped them develop significant increases in muscle strength - resulting in better healthiness overall.

Sherwin goes on to explain that, for the elderly, or those above middle age, the most effective exercises for healthy balance are resistance training exercises, typically with weights.

The end result is what he calls 'compression of morbidity'. People who exercise regularly - live longer and then die faster.

That's how I want to die.

Yours in health, tracy
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Personal Health Freedom

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Scientific Measurement of Healthiness

Can we measure healthiness scientifically?

Note: this post was written at the beginning of my explorations of Healthicine. The book:
Introduction to Healthicine: Theories of Health, Healthiness, Illness and Aging , published in early 2014, provides a much more comprehensive, up to date view of health and healthiness - as well as a framework for measuring healthiness.

Let’s look at two hypothetical women, introduced in a recent blog about detox and cleansing.

Alice and Zizi, both in their mid-forties, have no identified medical issues. They are each relatively normal, with one notable exception. You might know someone in each profile.

Alice gets, on average 5 to 7 colds a year, over the past 10 years. When she gets a cold, she is quite seriously affected, and the cold lasts, typically, between 8 and 10 days.

Zizi gets on average, a single cold every 1 or 2 years.  Her colds typically last 3 to 5 days and she suffers only minor systems.

That’s what the health (medical) system knows about Alice and Zizi.  About their illness.  The health (medical) system never looks at their health; in fact Alice and Zizi only contact the health (medical) system when they are sick. And Zizi, because she is generally not seriously affected by her colds – has almost no contact with the health (medical) system.  Alice is well known at the clinic, if not looking for medicine; she is at the very least, looking for a doctor’s note to stay home from work.

Now, the critical question.  Who is healthier, Alice or Zizi?

I think we can agree that Zizi is the most healthy.  But we can also see that she is ignored by the (so called) ‘health system’, because the ‘health system’ is in fact a ‘medical system’, not a health system.

Our health systems are ignorant of the healthiness of Zizi.

If Alice and Zizi go to a doctor, when they do not have a cold, they might both be told they are 'perfectly healthy'.  As if health is measured using yes or no answers.  "No illness" equals perfect health. 

We don’t have a health system. There are no professionals, there is no scientific community that studies Zizi – and no-one that studies the differences between Alice and Zizi.  Our medical system pays a lot of attention to Alice, and tries to cure or prevent her colds – and it ignores Zizi. Zizi is healthy, and there is no ‘health system’ to take notice of Zizi's healthiness.

Why is it important to study Zizi?  As long as we only study illness - we have an incomplete image of health and healthiness. Our concepts of illness, treatment, cure, prevention, and health are all distorted by a view that does not understand or measure healthiness.

I believe Zizi is healthier - and the cold makes no difference. That's my opinion.  But I would like to have a scientific answer.

A scientific answer should be independent of my opinion. It would make objective measurements and decide who is healthier.  Of course there is debate, even in science, but we need a science first - before we can start a scientific debate. Today, there is no science of healthiness. 

How would we obtain an objective, independent, scientific measurement of the health of Alice and Zizi?

Is it appropriate to measure healthiness – every day?  Or can we only measure sickness every day? Maybe, when we study healthiness – we will learn that the minimum resolution of a health measurement is 3 weeks.  Or perhaps longer. That a health measurement of one day, or even 3 or 7 days is irrelevant to health status, only relevant to ‘illness status’.

Or we might find that some measurements of healthiness are immediate and effective. A visual examination of the blood cells of Alice and Zizi might consistently reveal that Zizi is healthier. While examining their colds and sickness status requires analysis over several months or years for an accurate result.

Individual illnesses are measured by a different set of symptoms, tests, and observations. But these symptoms, tests and observations do not necessarily measure healthiness. Nor does the absence of symptoms. 

I believe an objective test for healthiness must ignore the cold, which is a temporary ‘illness’.  When we have true tests for healthiness - they will detect a significant differences between the healthiness levels of Alice and Zizi, without reference to a specific incidence of a cold.

Our medical systems ignores the difference between Alice and Zizi, and has no officially recognized way to measure it.  If someone says "Zizi is healthier than Alice" - there is no proof.  Even a historical record of the frequency of their colds does not constitute proof.  It is simply historical and anecdotal.

How can we measure healthiness scientifically? We have some crude measurements - most are designed to measure populations, not individuals. BMI tells us if a population is overweight or underweight.  But we are cautioned against using it on individuals.  And if Alice and Zizi have simiar BMI scores - that does not help. Most medical tests are designed to measure illness, not to measure healthiness.

I believe we can measure healthiness scientifically.  I'm not a scientist, but I have faith in science.  If it can be measured, science will find a way. And healthiness can be measured.

If we are to measure health, we need to develop scientific measurements of various elements in each of the layers of the hierarchy of health - genetics, nutrition, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirit and community.

There are over 100 nutrients which are critical to optimize health.  To develop a scientific system of healthiness measurement we need to:

a) identify, for each nutrient, the optimal range
b) develop tests to determine if the person being tested is above, below or in the optimal range
c) determine which nutrients are most critical to optimal health, and which are less critical.  This cannot be done until analysis of each nutrient progresses to a point where comparisons an be made reliably.  eg. A long time in the future.

Similarly for each cell type in the body, we need tests to measure their health level. However, testing some cells, liver cells, for example, might entail serious risk.  I believe that the first tests of cell healthiness will be done by measuring the healthiness of blood cells.  We may find that testing the healthiness of blood cells is a reliable indicator for the health of many different types of cells. We can also test cells in the skin, mouth and hair - without serious risk.

Each layer in the hierarchy of health is 'greater than the sum of its parts'.  Measuring the health of your genetics does not necessarily determine the health of your nutrients.  Measuring the healthiness of your nutrients does not necessarily provide a useful measure of the health of your cells.  It might be an influencing factor, but not necessarily the complete picture.  If you are suffering from toxins, measuring nutritional health - of essential nutrients, will give an incomplete picture. Of course if you improve your health in any area - you should expect that this improvement will permeate the hierarchy to some extent.

As we move through layers in the hierarchy of health, the relationships are farther apart.  Of course there may be direct links - a specific genetic unhealthiness might cause unhealthy white blood cells.  But in general, results measured in one layer cannot be used to make assumptions about other layers in the hierarchy.

There is also the possibility that deficits in healthiness in higher layers will cause deficits in lower layers, or in all layers.  If you live in a community that consumes a less than optimal diet - your nutritional health will probably be less than optimal as a result. This may lead to other health deficits.

I believe we can measure health.  One place we could start is in the laboratory.  Maybe we should try to measure the health of lab mice?  We need to find two lab mice, name one of them Alice, and one of them Zizi - and compare their healthiness. At present, I suspect that lab mice are only used for tests of illness, not tests of healthiness. I also suspect that, like the human Alice and Zizi - if the mice are not 'sick', our current system measures them as '100 percent healthy'.  Just like we do for people.

When we learn to measure the healthiness of lab mice - we will be closer to measuring the healthiness of humans.

When we start to measure the healthiness of humans - we will take the first steps towards optimal health.

What might the world, what might our health systems look like when we can measure health?

That is an interesting question to be discussed in future blog posts.

You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness.  Pursuit of healthiness is impossible if we cannot measure healthiness.

Yours in health,  tracy
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Personal Health Freedom

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Alberta Views: The Urge To Purge - A Health Centred Response

Alberta Views Magazine
Re: The Urge to Purge article - November 2011

When I opened Alberta Views and saw the article Urge to Purge. I was excited that I might learn something new.  I dived in at speed.  It was only a few seconds when I spotted the name Stephen Barrett.  I knew you’d been hoodwinked.  So, I read on, but got more and more depressed and dissatisfied as the article passed thru my ummmm….

Stephen Barrett reminds me of A.A. Milne’s poem Lines and Squares:

Whenever I walk in a London street,
I’m ever so careful to watch my feet;
And I keep in the squares,
And the masses of bears,
Who wait on the corners all ready to eat
The sillies who tread on the lines of the street
Go back to their lairs,
And I say to them, “Bears,
Just look how I’m walking in all the squares!”

I can see why Deepak Chopra describes Stephen Barrett as the “self appointed vigilante for the suppression of curiosity”.  I agree with Deepak Chopra.  Stephen Barrett never steps outside of the squares.  And he thinks that anyone who does is a bear (or worse, a quack).
Enough ranting about Barrett.  What about detox? 

The article subtitle 
Cleansing and detoxing isn’t scientific, so why do so many Albertans do it?

Let’s deal first with the technical error, the statement that “detoxing isn’t scientific”.  I suggest you look up scientific in a dictionary.  Trees are not scientific. Drugs and treatments are not scientific.  A healthy diet is not scientific. Scientific defines a process by which things are measured against a hypothesis. ‘Things’ are not scientific, with the exception of things like scientific procedures, scientific studies,scientific measurement and the like. Note, this phrase appears again in the conclusion – it’s just as silly there. And wrong too.

I think you meant to say 
there is no scientific evidence to support the statement that detoxing prevents illness”. 

And that is where we part company.  You are right.  And very wrong.

I run a blog called Personal Health Freedom. You can find me at

My blog is about health – not about illness.  I write about the need to define and measure health. I define a hierarchy of health, so that we might learn how to study health - as opposed to studying illness.  I do take time out to define illness and the causes of illness, most of my energy is towards ‘health’. I take care to tell readers that I am not a doctor. Don't rely on my advice.  Check for yourself.

Health must be defined and measured separately from illness.  No-one bothers to measure health – our medical systems only measure illness.

Let me give a little example to clarify. Let’s talk about two hypothetical women, Alice and Zizi, both in their mid-forties.  You might know someone in each profile.

Alice gets, on average 5 to 7 colds a year, over the past 10 years. When she gets a cold, she is quite seriously affected, and the cold lasts, typically, between 8 and 10 days.

Zizi gets on average, a cold every 1 or 2 years.  Her colds typically last 3 to 5 days and she suffers only minor systems.

That’s what the medical system knows about Alice and Zizi.  About their illness.  But the medical system never looks at their health; in fact Alice and Zizi only contact the medical system when they are sick. And Zizi, because she is generally not seriously affected by her colds – has almost no contact with the medical system.  Alice is well known at the clinic, if not looking for medicine; she is at the very least, looking for a doctor’s note to stay home from work.

Now, the critical questions.  Who is healthier, Alice or Zizi?  I think we can agree that Zizi is the most healthy.  But we can also see that she is ignored by the (so called) ‘health system’, because the ‘health system’ is in fact a ‘medical system’, not a health system.

But if Alice and Zizi go to a doctor when they do not have a cold, they might both be told they are 'perfectly healthy'.  As if health was measure using yes or no answers.  "No illness" equals health. 

We don’t have a health system. There are no professionals, there is no scientific community that studies Zizi – and no-one that studies the differences between them.  Our medical system pays a lot of attention to Alice, and tries to cure or prevent her colds – but it ignores Zizi. Zizi is healthy, and there is no ‘health system’.

Now a more challenging question.   On November 12th, 2010 – Zizi got a cold.  It was minor on November 12th, full blown on November 13th – and she was recovering by November 14th. During that span of time, Alice did not have a cold.

So, on November 12th who was healthier?  Alice or Zizi?  On November 13th, who was healthier, Alice or Zizi?  On November 14th, who was healthier – Alice or Zizi.

It is clear that on November 11thAlice was healthier, and on November 15th, she was healthier again.    

A scientific answer should be independent of your opinion – and independent of my opinion.  

How would we obtain a scientific measurement of the health of Alice and Zizi?  Is it appropriate to measure healthiness – every day?  Or can we only measure sickness every day? Maybe, when we study healthiness – we will learn that the minimum resolution of a health measurement is 3 weeks.  Or longer. That a health measurement of one day, or even 3 days is irrelevant to health status, only relevant to ‘illness status’.

It seems clear that we need different ways to measure healthiness from illness.  Each illness is measured by a different set of symptoms, tests, and observations. But these symptoms, tests and observations do not measure healthiness.  

I believe an objective test for healthiness must ignore the cold, which is a temporary ‘illness’.  When we have a true test for healthiness - it will detect a significant difference between the healthiness levels of Alice and Zizi, without reference to the frequency or duration of colds. 

So what has this to do with detox?

Let’s go back to the scientific method question. Your quote: “why (do) detox diets never undergo scientific tests?”  You say “Then there’s the scientific method.  Detox proponents don’t seem to care for it.” 

But you, and the detox proponents and opponents, aren't understanding science. Detox proponents aren't necessarily the ones who don’t like the scientific method.  It might be the medical establishment that doesn’t like the scientific method (except when it is used for medical purposes). 

You asked Oregon naturopathic physician Dickson Thom why “detox diets never undergo scientific tests?”  he could only joke.  Why? Because he is so imbedded in the medical system he can’t see the forest (health) for the diseased trees (illnesses).  

If detox diets are about health, the scientific tests, to date, are measuring the wrong thing. 

If detox diets are about health, not about illness, then we need a scientific test to measure the health of people before, during and after the detox treatment.  We might search for a similar scientific test to use as a model.  Search away.  There are, at present, NO SCIENTIFIC STUDIES of the effect of any substance, treatment or action on HEALTH.  There are only scientific studies of the effects of substances, treatments and actions on illness.  Detox is about health, not about illness. Illness is not health.

So, let’s suppose that detox improves your health. I’m not saying it does – I’m interested in science.  But let’s suppose that a specific detox treatment improves your health, by x percent, on average. 

All tests by the ‘scientific medical system’ will not detect nor measure the improvement.  Our medical systems and our medical tests do not measure the difference between Alice and Zizi.  Because they don’t measure health.

We don’t have any independent, objective tests to measure health – so we cannot tell if health was improved or not. 

Let’s suppose the relationship is more complex.  If, as the medical scientists claim, detox kits might release toxins and thus actually harm your health status – then we need to take the measurement further.  It might be, for example that using a detox kit decreases your health for several days, or even a few weeks – but after that, your health is actually better.  Maybe this happened to you? Sort of like learning – first seem to go backwards and then rebound later.

But… Have there been any scientific tests to measure this possibility?  No.  There have been no tests of detox that measure effects on health, short term nor the long term.

So, is detox scientific?  Duh.  The people who, like Stephen Barrett, claim that ‘detoxing does not improve health’ are not scientific – because there has never been a test.  But Barrett claims that science proves detox is useless.  Where is the scientific evidence? There is some evidence that our ‘medical system’ and its ‘scientific tests’ cannot measure benefits from detox.  Is that because there are no benefits?  Or is it a deficiency in the scientific tests?  We don’t know.

What does each person who buys a detox kit decide?  I’m guessing they say something like this
   - I know it’s painful
   -  I believe my health is better after it is over
So they buy.  And use.  And if they feel healthier - that's the only measuring stick we have for health at present, they do it again, when they feel 'less healthy'. 

I make the same judgement when I go for my swim.  I know it’s painful.  Cold.  Wet. Messy.  But I believe my health is better if I do it regularly.  I know my health status does not change ‘because I went swimming once’.  I go and I swim. I suffer, and I feel better and I get healthier.

The scientific tests don’t measure this reasoning.  They measure ‘medical effects’, not health effects.

You are not the only person to make this mistake.  Many of the people you talked to in ‘health stores’ don’t understand the concept of health.  So you were told that ‘your thinking is too linear’ – when in fact Willard simply could not explain the situation in ‘medical terms’ – because it is not a medical question.  

He has not learned to think in terms of health. He may work in a 'health store', but he thinks in 'medical paradigms'. 

Arpana Taylor speaks of a necessary  ‘paradigm shift’, but cannot define the new paradigm.  Aparna might understand unconsciously that detox is about health, not about illness – but our ‘health systems’ only deal with medical issues  - and Aparna needs his own paradigm shift to understand, and then explain it to you.

Your conclusions, two:
  - detox may have its merits, but it is not scientific
  - detox diets don’t remove harmful substances from the body (Barrett is right)

Are false and misleading. 

As noted above, the statement that ‘detox is not scientific’ is not a scientific statement. If it is not false, it is nonsense.

If you meant to say “detox is not supported by scientific studies of illness”, you might be technically right. But if people take detox for their health - the statement is irrelevant. 

No-one has scientifically measured the health effects of detox.  Frankly, no one has scientifically measured the health effects of Vitamin C nor penicillin.  We have only measured their illness effects. 

The statement that “Detox diets don’t remove harmful substances from the body” is also unscientific, as is most of what Barrett says. 

There are no scientific studies concluding that detox does not remove toxic substances from the body. Proving that a detox diet does not remove a harmful substance from my body requires an exhaustive study of detox diets along with an exhaustive study of what is excreted from my body – through various orifaces, before I am on the detox diet and then again while on the detox diet and again after I complete the detox protocol. This study has not been started, and I suspect it will never be completed.

The statement that 'detox diets don't remove harmful substances from the body' is what I call a 'black swan statement'.  It is a wide generalization that can be proven wrong by a single exception. You can find a more detailed description and some examples of black swan statements in health here

A final comment...

You mention the possibility of a placebo effect.  But you missed a valuable alternative explanation.  The change effect.  The saying goes - a change is as good as a rest. Our diets sometimes tend to get 'stuck'.  If we do not exercise care, we might find ourselves eating the same thing, every week, every month, over and over and over again for years.  The detox diet changes this up - maybe only for a short period.  But this change might be enough to improve our health.  We don't know, because we cannot measure healthiness. 

To your health, tracy

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Why we don't have Health Freedom - Ed Griffin on the politics of health

Two drug company executives are walking down the street, when they see a man limping heavily on his right leg, lurching from side to side, arms swinging, head falling and rising.

One said to the other - "a pity we can't do something for him".  
The reply "Well of course we can.  And we can make money in the process.  We need to design a drug that paralyzes his left leg and then he'll be perfectly balanced." 
"Interesting.  But what about side effects?"
"Just look at him, he's lurching from side to side.  I'll bet he's suffering from nausea, and possibly headaches - and he probably has pain in his left leg because it's working so hard.  So what does it matter if the drug causes nausea, headaches, muscle pain?   We'll just add them to the label." 
"But, what if his right leg recovers? Then he'll lurch the other way?" 
"Another opportunity.  We can develop a mirror image drug that only affects his right leg, so that problem can be treated as well." 

Isn't it just too close to the truth? All disease and illness is caused by imbalance.

Health is optimal balance.  Healing is optimizing balance.

Drugs are toxins, often designed to throw your balance 'the other way', without healing the imbalance.  Sometimes they give your body time to heal and recover balance - sometimes not.

Illnesses have symptoms, like headache, nausea, pain.  Many of those symptoms are not directly caused by the illness but are secondary symptoms that arise as the illness causes other imbalances. Many drugs are designed to treat the symptoms, not the imbalance that is the illness.

Ed Griffin - talks about The Politics of Health

Video Transciption

In this video, Ed Griffin explains the reason we have no health freedom.  He explains the history of medicine in America - and how that history is specifically designed to restrict treatments that are not 'drugs'.

It is unfortunate that Ed Griffin, like most people who attempt to speak on this subject mis-titled his video.  It is called The Politics of Health.  But in actual fact it is The Politics of Illness and Treatments.

Health is ignored by our medical system.  But not by me.

Yours in health, tracy
Personal Health Freedom

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Community Health - can we measure the health of our communities?

Community Health is the top layer of the hierarchy of health.  What is a community?  What is community health?  How can we measure community health?  How healthy are our communities?

The first level of community is the "community of self". Each of us lives in the community of our body, our mind, our spirit with our gods - and our devils.

No person is independent. Most interact with other people and other communities. Even a total hermit lives in a community of plants, animals, sun, moon and stars as well as his own mind, body and spirit.

The household is a fundamental unit of community and a valuable component of community health. A household might have only one person, interacting with their internal communities (mind, body, spirit) and external communities - but most households harbor more than one person, forming another community.  A household might be so large that it contains an extended family community - or even more.

Communities exist in many formal and informal ways.

Individuals, families and households interact with many external communities;  like minded people community associations (sports, leisure, goal oriented, etc.), business communities, worker communities, government communities, religious communities, to local community associations (residential area communities, civic communities, etc), communities of state, province, nation and ultimately the community of our planet - ultimately at least until we start to establish communities on other planets.

Support Wikipedia Often, as I write my blog, my research puts me to Wikipedia - today I decided it's time to make a donation.

Freedom of association and freedom of assembly are fundamental freedoms recognized by many human rights organizations. They are also fundamental components of health freedom.

You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness. Of course you cannot pursue healthiness without the right to freely develop, associate with, join, work in and if we wish leave - our communities. Of course, the saying goes "you can choose your friends, but you are stuck with your family". We also exercise our freedoms to try and change our communities - to improve our healthiness.

The health of our communities is an important factor in the health of each of us.

Can we measure the health of our communities?  I have always believed that if you think you can, or you think you cannot - you are right.  I think we can measure the health of our communities. I believe we should start today.  We have already started.

Are some communities toxic?  What does that mean?  What can we do about toxic communities?  What communities are 'most healthy'?  What does that mean?  How can we encourage communities to move towards health?

I don't believe any community is totally toxic, or totally healthy. Measuring the health of our communities is a useful tool to measure overall health.

There have been some interesting attempts to measure health of communities.

Sam Harris, in his interesting book "The Moral Landscape, how Science can Determine Human Values" suggests that one moral framework is better than another when it "increases the well-being of conscious creatures". An interesting proposition that we could apply directly to the health of communities.  A community is healthier when it "increases the well-being of conscious creatures".  Of course each community's goal is to look after its own members - so there may be conflicts between communities.  But in general, a community's framework might be judged to be healthy - if it increases the well being of its members, and even healthier if it increases the well-being of all conscious creatures. We may find that some communities are happy to increase the well being of their members - to the detriment of non-members.  Or even communities that work to increase the well being of some members while decreasing the well being of other members - Hitler's Germany immediately comes to mind. Communities can have sub-communities that are at odds with the goals of the larger community.

Richard Wilkinson in his TED presentation titled "How economic inequality harms societies" measures ill health of different communities - states and countries and compares the ill health to economic inequality. If we are measuring health of individuals - I might complain that he measures illness, not health, but when measuring health of large communities - a measurement of illness is a somewhat reliable indicator of health.  Richard concludes that, as his title suggests, "economic inequality harms" communities, thus providing some valuable insight into how we might improve the health of our communities.  He leaves the details to us, and our communities.

Each of us live our lives in many communities.  Our health is affected by the health and healthiness of these communities. We can change our health status, by working to make our communities healthier.  Many communities work directly to improve our health.

We might ask if there exist communities that work to decrease healthiness?  I believe any community that attempts to restrict health freedom risks decreasing healthiness.  A community that attempt to eradicate another community, or the members of another community - is clearly working to decrease healthiness - even if they believe they are making their own community 'more healthy'.

Yours in health, tracy
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Personal Health Freedom 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The 1 percent vs Community Health

I have defined a hierarchy of health, that rises from genetics and nutrients, to cells, tissues, organs, systems, bodies, minds and spirit - to community. And I constantly suggest that we need to measure health at all levels.

This TED presentation, by Richard Wilkinson, makes it very clear that the 1 percent vs 99 percent problem in the USA is the cause of many health issues at the personal, spiritual and community levels.  Stunning.

yours in health, tracy
Personal Health Freedom 
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Great New Drug Discovery, Prevents Cancer Too

A recent study reports that over 75 percent of advanced cancer patients have low levels of Vitamin D.  Read about it here. The lowest levels of Vitamin D are associated with the most advanced cancers.

Vitamin D has become the new wonder drug. Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in Multiple Sclerosis. Flu season is the season when our sunlight deficiency causes a drop in our Vitamin D levels and a corresponding drop in the health of our immune systems.  Moderate to high doses may reduce heart disease, and can slow the progress of congestive heart failure. Of course we have known for years that Vitamin D deficiency causes as loss of bone density progressing to rickets.  Vitamin D is a commonly recommended preventative for osteoporosis. Vitamin D is now being studied for diabetes because it decreases insulin resistance - a benefit for diabetics.

What's wrong with this picture?  It hi-lights some serious deficiencies in our medical paradigm.  We need a health paradigm. 

1. Vitamin D is a nutrient. Not a drug. It is studied as it if was a drug.

2. The main natural source of Vitamin D is sunshine. But people who sell sunscreen have built a huge propaganda message against sunshine - so many doctors are reluctant to prescribe sunshine to prevent disease.  Fewer are likely to recommend sunshine for health. I have read - but not seen specific studies - that melanomas do NOT develop on areas of our skin that receive the most sun - the face and hands. Research published in the British Journal of Dermatology concluded that the perceived statistical increase in melanomas is most likely due to a shift in diagnoses which classify non-malignant lesions as cancerous. And countries near the equator,where the sun is strongest - tend to have lowest incidences of skin cancer. What's up with that? Here's Mercola's post on this item - the comments are interesting as well.

The wind is my drug - and now the sun as well. 

3. We have clearly documented measurements of 'the amount of Vitamin D required to prevent illness'.  Of course these numbers are being revised in light of new findings.  But we have no recommendations, and no studies, of the amount of Vitamin D consumption (or creation via exposure to sunlight) that will optimize health. We only research for the 'minimum to prevent disease' and then we measure drug like effects when Vitamin D is used to treat disease.

4. You can be deficient in Vitamin D.  Deficiency in Vitamin D means that you are consuming, or producing through exposure to sunlight, less than the RDA of Vitamin D.  You can be preficient in Vitamin D.  Preficiency exists when your Vitamin D levels are below the 'optimal' level of Vitamin D. But we do not know the optimal levels of Vitamin D.  There are no studies to measure the optimal intake, or even optimal range, of any nutrient. So, we don't know what amount of Vitamin D is most healthy. And we don't know what amount of sunshine is most healthy.

5. Vitamin D affects your health. But we don't study health, we only study illness. How Vitamin D affects your health is poorly studied - and recent studies of Vitamin D are all focused on illness, not on health.

This might explain why the information about Vitamin D has remained hidden from view for so long. We are now starting to study Vitamin D deficiency more often, but we do not yet study Vitamin D preficiency, nor Vitamin D health. It also makes me wonder what other nutrient imbalances hold keys to illness - that we don't understand because we don't study health.

6. Vitamin D is studied in isolation. All nutrients tend to be studied, as if  they are drugs, in isolation. When we learn to measure health, and to determine the correct amounts of nutrients for optimal health - we will learn about combinations of nutrients and how they affect health.  Studies to date on multi-vitamin supplements, for example, treat each multi-vitamin recipe as a drug, and measure results as if they were drugs.  Effects on health are not measured, because we don't measure health effectively. Only effects on illness are measured.

In theory, we should be able to:

a) Measure the health level of a person and the changes over a span of time, along many of the dimensions in the hierarchy of health.  At present there are no established techniques to effectively measure and compare the health of so called 'healthy' individuals.

b) Measure the nutrient intake and changes in nutrient intake of the same person over the same span of time.  It is very easy for our intake of nutrients to drift over time, without us being aware.  We seldom evaluate diets - and are less likely to evaluate diets for overall nutrient content.  Instead, diets are evaluated for factors that do not contribute directly to health - but might contribute to illness - calories, unhealthy fats, etc.

c) Analyze the relationships between nutrient intake, changes in nutrient intake, and health.

Instead, we measure when illness is found. We deliberately wait until something breaks, and then try to fix it, or try to figure out how to prevent it from breaking, without understanding

Your body is always growing, healing, repairing, working to improve your health.  Working to restore health imbalances. Every person has a different level of health, different health strengths and weaknesses. But none of us have a clear idea what our individual strengths and weaknesses are.  Which of the over 100 essential nutrients are in your diet in healthy amounts?  What types of exercise are most healthy for your personal body?

Frankly, we don't know much about health. Hopefully we can start learning. You have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness.

Yours in health, tracy
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: 

Personal Health Freedom