Thursday, September 13, 2012

Are You Looking Healthy, or Looking Sick?

One of the systemic problems with our 'health systems' is the 'sick view'.

Go to your public library and check out the books on 'health'.  In general, you will see the following simple recommendations: eat a healthy diet, exercise, get lots of sleep, etc. But you will also notice that most of the content in the so called 'health book' is how to avoid disease. How to avoid obesity, how to avoid heart disease, how to avoid illness. 

Merriam-Webster defines health as "the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit;especially : freedom from physical disease or pain".  By that definition, health starts, in the above image, at the heels of the doctor - and studies of health go no farther towards the green. There are many studies of health that look, like the doctor - towards illness.  Precious few that look towards healthiness.

The World Health Organization takes a different view, in theory: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." In their definition, HEALTH only exists at the far left of the above diagram, where there is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being". 

But the World Health Organization (commonly known as WHO), does not use this theoretical definition in practice. In practice, they publish statistics of 'health', that are based entirely in illness and infirmity. Their global health indicators are: life expectancy and mortality, cause specific mortality and morbidity, selected infectious diseases, health service coverage, risk factors, health workforce (doctors, nurses, etc, eg - medical workforce) - infrastructure and essential medicines, health expenditures (they mean illness expenditures), health inequities (medical inequities), demographic and socioeconomic statistics, health information systems (medical information systems) and data availability.  There are no WHO statistics about health - because WHO uses the medical view, and they can't see what is behind the doctor. 

This medical view, this 'health blindness' has serious consequences for our health. If you are not sick, you are healthy.  Anything that doesn't make you 'sick' according to a doctor, is 'safe', and thus 'healthy'. 

There are a large number of 'health controversies' that fall prey to this blindness.  Is aspartame 'healthy'?  No one cares. We measure if it causes illness - and if no direct indications are found - we stop measuring.  No one measures the effect of aspartame on healthiness.  Is fluoride healthy? Does it increase your healthiness? We theorize that fluoride prevents tooth decay - and the research stops.  No one bothers to measure if fluoride is healthy. 

We have no way to measure healthiness. 

Once you reach the doctor's heels, moving towards the green - measurement stops.  We can measure 'strength' and possibly 'fitness', but not healthiness.  Healthiness is not defined, not studied and not measured. 

It's time to begin the study of healthicine. The study of health and healthiness. We cannot attain health freedom without information - healthy information.

I believe the study of healthicine is so important, that I have started a website and blog, dedicated to health: 

This is a turning point for this blog.  A fork in the road.  From now on I will dedicate my inquiries and my writing in two different, overlapping directions.  Sometimes, I will write about healthiness - in the Healthicine blog.  Sometimes I will write about Health Freedom in this, the Personal Health Freedom blog.  Sometimes, I expect I will post the same, or very similar content - on both sites, because there is so much overlap between the two concepts.  Healthicine is about the theory of health.  But when theory meets practice - we need freedom to ensure access to information, and freedom to ensure that we can make our own choices. Everyone has a right to live, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness. 

to your health,

Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: