Our medical system is designed to treat disease. It works by diagnosis of disease, and treatment based on diagnosis. This is a very powerful technique that has developed a powerful suite of tools to treat disease.
However, we know almost nothing about health. Health is poorly defined, typically not defined without reference to illness. Health is not measured. We have no idea how to measure health - as opposed to illness. Most measurements of health consist of zero or 100 percent: unhealthy or healthy.
I have tried, and tried to find a useful definition of health, to guide my own personal actions.
If we surf over to the World Health Organization, for example, their homepage lists hundreds of links about illness and medicine. There are a few links labeled 'health...', but when you view those links you soon learn that the word health should be replaced with illness. Health Care Technology says "see Biomedical Technology". Health Services quickly reverts to 'medical services'. Health surveys 'measure many topics including mortality, disease occurrence, intervention coverage and risk behaviors'. Health surveys do not, it seems, actually measure health. This is understandable. Many of the people on our planet are ill. Maybe even 'most people', if you look closely enough. The World Health Organization focuses its attention on that majority.
You can search 'alternative health' sources with similar results. Alternative Health providers are not studying, nor providing 'health'. They are providing alternative medicines and alternative medical approaches. I applaud them for their efforts and their results. But they are not about health. They're about treating and avoiding illness.
There are literally thousands of unanswered, even 'unquestioned questions about health'. These are the subjects of my blog. Many of these questions might never be answered. I believe the only way we can answer these questions is by exercising our personal health freedoms.
What don't we know about health?
What is health? Is there a model of health that provides a complete picture of many aspects of health (nutrient health, cellular health, organ health, etc) in an appropriate hierarchical structure where we can see how each affects the other? (I have created one because I could not find one). And while were at it, what is illness? What are the primary causes of illness? I created this model as well, after searching in vain for a useful model of illness.
How do you measure health effectively? How do you measure the health of a person? Is your father 80 percent healthy? 50 percent? How do you measure the health of a diet on a scale of zero to 100 percent? With what level of accuracy? When is a non-diet (fasting) healthy? How healthy? How do you measure the health of your muscle cells? Your connective tissues? You heart, your liver? How do you measure your mind health (awareness, memory, calculation, etc). How do you measure your spiritual health? Your community health?
What nutrients are recommended to optimize health in humans? In what amounts?
The situation with Vitamin C is a perfect example of the incomplete results from the medical paradigm. We know that Vitamin C is 'vital'. It is required for a healthy life. But check the research into Vitamin C and you will find a minimum of facts and a maximum of BS. The only facts to be found are the disease (scurvy) caused by severe deficiency of Vitamin C , the treatment program for scurvy; the recommended minimum daily consumption amount of Vitamin C; and some discussion of the maximum amount of Vitamin C that can be tolerated without 'side effects'. Side Effects are a medical term that applies to the treatment of an illness. Side effects do not occur when taking Vitamin C for health - there are simply positive and negative health effects.
The BS about Vitamin C is huge. Does Vitamin C prevent the common cold? The Flu? Should you take mega-doses of Vitamin C, or not. Does Vitamin C prevent heart disease. The news media pays attention to the controversy, as if it was a political argument. But when you look closely, you will see that the BS is about Vitamin C and illness, not about Vitamin C and health.
The important question is ignored, not researched and not newsworthy. How much Vitamin C is healthy? How does Vitamin C improve your health? How does Vitamin C interact with other nutrients? How should Vitamin C be consumed to maximize the health benefits? Which of the 8 or more different types of Vitamin C available is the most healthy? Which is least healthy? Is a combination the most healthy? Does the healthiest consumption level of Vitamin C improve some health areas, while decreasing health in other areas?
These are some of the 'personal health' questions about Vitamin C. At present, there are no answers, and not even the slightest clue among scientists with regard to 'how to go about answering' these questions. The same issues exist with many health factors. There is no controversy because there is little awareness that questions exist.
Why don't we know the answers? Why is there no research into health, as opposed to illness? Because we don't measure health. We cannot measure health effects until we can measure health.
Are certain exercises likely to improve, or degrade health? Does competition in sports, at various levels, improve or degrade health status in the short term, medium term, long term?
How does a healthy diet relate to mind health? How do toxins, like caffeine, alcohol and lead consumption affect mind health?
Is health the same as 'well being'? What are the current theories, or philosophies of health? What is the matter with Mary Jane?
Is Thanksgiving good for your health?
So many questions, so few answers...
Every day, we each make our own, personal health decisions. Many of these decisions are restricted by corporations and governments, placing limits on our freedoms - without a clear understanding of health or health objectives.
You don't know health. But you do know yourself. You know more about your health than anyone else. You know much more about your individual, personal health and how it ebbs and flows than you could ever tell your doctor in a 15 minute visit about a specific problem. You know about your health - and you have the right to make decisions based on your objectives, and your knowledge. The right to information. The right to learn. And the right to make choices. And the right to change your mind.
We all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of healthiness. These rights are unconditional.
You have a right to Personal Health Freedom.
Yours in health,
Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: