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Understanding The Keys To Health

I could hear her smile over the phone. “Sure, I’m healthy. I’ve just got to lose a little weight.” I began asking her some questions, only to discover that she was on a host of medicines: one for high blood pressure, two for indigestion, one to help her sleep, one to help her wake up, and another to help her not be constipated.

I’m not sure she saw the disconnect. Do you?

This woman thought she was healthy because she could manage her symptoms with medicine. When did our definition of health become so skewed?

Even people who don’t take medicines can still fall into this trap, taking piles of supplements every day in order to balance their moods, their hormones, their energy levels, their weight loss.

Nobody ever stops to ask themselves why they feel like crap all the time.

As a holistic nutrition & wellness coach, I wholeheartedly believe that all our body’s processes are interconnected. That means I have no problem believing that poor diet can cause mood swings, poor digestion can cause neurological problems, poor glandular function can cause weight gain and fatigue. I don’t look at symptoms and try to alleviate them. I look at symptoms and ask, what’s out of balance? Where is this person stressed?

In my way of understanding, even infectious diseases fall within this paradigm. To help explain this radical shift away from modern germ theory, I’d like to share some wisdom from Ramiel Nagel‘s newest book, Healing Our Children:

We continually breathe in bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms. Germs are everywhere. They exist in the soil, water, and on virtually everything we touch. Microbes are also in our bodies, including the beneficial bacteria in our intestines that help us absorb nutrients from our foods. When a person is healthy, germs live within them in a harmonious positive state.

It is a well accepted fact that many viruses and bacteria such as polio, tuberculosis, and HIV, may be present in many healthy people’s bodies in a dormant state, called latency, with the person experiencing no symptoms of disease. In several experiments, different germs from people infected with diseases like diphtheria, could not be passed to healthy subjects no matter what method of infection was tried. Even with our enormous exposure to microbes, most of them don’t make us sick….

During the time of Mr. Pasteur, there also lived another French scientist by the name of Antoine Bechamp. He believed … yes, hold your breath here … that germs do not cause disease. Rather, he believed that germs exist and evolve in relationship to the changing conditions of the ecosystem in which they live. In other words, it is the unhealthy environment inside your body that creates sickness by providing the fertile ground on which the germs can mutate and take harmful forms. Thus, germs can mutate and take new shapes and forms, and do so in response to their environment. The change occurs in stages, in a progression from simpler to more complex forms….

But surely, you may be saying, the germ theory must be correct. It has been in application for over a hundred years now, giant corporations make billions off of its tenets, our medical establishment is based on it, and it is taught in schools and reported about in the media. Consider the fact that even Mr. Pasteur is said to have admitted on his death bed that “the microbe is nothing: the terrain is everything.” Finally, newer live field microscopes which allow viewing of living samples at high magnifications show clear and irrefutable proof of microscopic forms evolving and changing in response to their terrain in a matter of seconds and minutes. This proves conclusively that pleomorphism is a real phenomenon and a part of our natural world.

There is evidence to suggest that microbes exist within the body to help the body clean and restore itself, and are a condition assicated with a diseased state but are not the cause of disease per se. For example, tuberculosis is a disease blamed on a bacterium, yet renowned tuberculosis expert Walter R. Hadwen, M.D., states: “Nobody has ever found a tubercile bacillus in the earliest stages of tuberculosis.”….

In other words, if our bodies were simply in balance and our immune systems functioning at full strength, the “terrain” of our internal systems would promote a healthy microbial presence. When we’re out of balance, our “terrain” becomes inhospitable to the microbes, and they actually mutate or “morph” into other more, dangerous forms which make us sick. Our weakened immune systems make us sick not because they can’t fight off infection, but because they cause infection.

You may argue that it’s all just semantics, and in a way, you’d be right. What does it matter if the end result is the same: we’re sick because of failing immune systems. But consider that by wholeheartedly embracing Pasteur’s germ theory, almost all of modern Western medicine is built on treating symptoms rather than underlying causes.

You get a rash, the doctor prescribes a cream or ointment to make it go away. No one ever stops to ask why the skin needed to eliminate toxins in your body this way. You get diarrhea, you take an anti-diarrheal pill and make it go away. No one ever stops to ask why your intestines needed to purge themselves so forcefully. When it comes to chronic diseases, the consequences are staggering. You get high blood pressure, no one ever stops to ask why your blood pressure has increased. Doctors simply prescribe medication meant to lower it. You develop insulin resistance (diabetes), and no one ever stops to ask why your body has started ignoring all the insulin that’s getting pumped into your blood stream. They just start treating you with insulin.

In many cases, symptoms are our body’s way of healing itself. Fever burns up dead and harmful matter. Coughing and sneezing expel toxic material from your body. Extra mucus, rashes, and even diarrhea are our body’s way of eliminating toxins & waste.

And in many other cases, symptoms are our body’s way of telling us that something is out of balance, that we’re not eating the right foods, that our environments, activity levels, and stress is killing us.

So, over the next couple of months, I’ll be doing a series of posts on what I call the Keys To Health. We’re going to look at a few key systems in the body and how they affect our overall health, including our digestive system (particularly our small intestines, and liver) and our endocrine system (particularly our pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands, and pancreas). We’ll examine how these systems are designed to function and what we can eat to promote their best performance.

Hope you enjoy the ride!

UPDATE — THE FOLLOWING POSTS HAVE BEEN WRITTEN IN THIS SERIES:

(photo by M@rge)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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17 Responses to Understanding The Keys To Health
  1. Will Mahler
    June 16, 2009 | 3:28 pm

    Great post. I’m really looking forward to the next articles in the series.

    I’ve always been a big believer in our bodies themselves and their ability to achieve and maintain health when we feed and treat them well.

    Keep up the good work : ) .

  2. Catherine
    June 16, 2009 | 3:58 pm

    Oooh, this topic is so dear to me. Yesterday I was talking to my mom and she was saying that she was healthy and feeling fine. Yet she has osteoporosis, major dental work, and had symptoms of a brain tumor (doctors found nothing put the symptoms still persist).

    My dad also has Parkinsons disease. He can spend weeks inside his house without seeing sunlight. He is elderly, lives alone and retired. I ask him to do me a favour to just go outside for 15 minutes a day, that it would improve his health greatly. He thinks that at his age he is pretty healthy and does not bother. The truth is that he can hardly write with a pencil because of his hand shaking so much.

    I could go on and on.

    It is hard to see loved ones like this.

    Catherine

  3. Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home
    June 16, 2009 | 4:51 pm

    I’m really excited about these upcoming posts!

    Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home

  4. Betsy
    June 16, 2009 | 5:29 pm

    I’m also looking forward to these posts. I need them. :(

  5. Local Nourishment
    June 16, 2009 | 5:54 pm

    There is a tendency among even some naturopaths to “prescribe” band-aids instead of look for underlying causes. My mother-in-law takes upwards of 60 supplements a day

  6. Bonnie
    June 16, 2009 | 6:54 pm

    I love this post. I often have to stop myself from making faces at patients when I ask them if they have any gas or bloating during my intake. Lately I’ve had a lot of patients tell me, “Just normal amounts.”

    HUH?!

    Bonnie

  7. bethany
    June 16, 2009 | 8:14 pm

    So very on board with this! My FIL has been writing/talking/speaking on this for awhile now, in conjunction with his wife’s iridology business here in NYC. Part of their classes is to teach some of this stuff, including the stages of ‘disease’, starting with elimination I think, then isolation … I need to reread my notes! Really looking forward to your series.
    To health!
    Bethany

    bethany

  8. Christina
    June 16, 2009 | 8:38 pm

    Ooooooh, exciting posts coming up!! I can’t wait to read your posts on thyroid and adrenal problems!!!

  9. KristenM
    June 16, 2009 | 9:09 pm

    Christina — And I can’t wait to write them. Seriously. This is going to be fun. I have an excuse to do all this research I’ve been wanting to do for the past year. Hopefully I can share some of it in a non-academic way with you guys so that I don’t bore you to death!

    Bethany — Interesting. I’ve never studied iridology in depth. Maybe one day.

    Bonnie — I know the feeling! Everyone thinks it’s normal to poop only once a day, once every other day, or once a week. Basically, whatever’s “normal” for them is what they call normal. Same with indigestion, bloating, headaches, waking up with drainage or a stuffy nose, the list goes on.

    Local Nourishment — 60 supplements! Yowsers. I understand the desire for supplements, even on a real food diet. After all, our food can only be as nutrient dense as the soil that produced it (which is sadly depleted in most cases). Nevertheless, 60!

    Catherine — I know how that goes. Sadly, the older you get, the less time you have to work on healing. By then, even if you switch to real food nutrition, you’re playing defense instead of offense. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a shot! I’ve seen elderly people lower their cholesterol, lose weight, and get off a number of meds just by changing their diet.

    Will, Laryssa, & Bethany — Yay. I’m glad you’re all looking forward to these posts. I hope I live up to your expectations!

  10. Sarah
    June 16, 2009 | 9:50 pm

    Very interesting post. Food for thought. Thank you!

    Best,
    Sarah

    Sarah

  11. trish from "grow lettuce grow"
    June 17, 2009 | 6:45 am

    rock on. looking forward to the journey.
    when will folks get sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?

    trish from “grow lettuce grow”

  12. Vin - NaturalBias
    June 17, 2009 | 7:36 am

    This is a message that more people need to be exposed to! People like the woman from the phone conversation who chase symptoms with medication will go on thinking they’re healthy until they end up with major disease. Then they’ll think it’s too late and will simply give up any hope of improving their health. I see it all the time, even in my family, and it’s really sad.

    Most people who rely on medications don’t understand the concept of chasing symptoms and don’t realize that by doing so, they’re letting whatever problem they have persist and progress. True health is about supporting the body’s ability to take care of itself, not forcefully changing the way it functions through medication (although medication is sometimes necessary).

    Pasteur’s deathbed quote is a testament to the amazing capabilities of the human body. It’s just a shame that it received very little of the attention that his germ theory did.

    Christina, to hold you over until Kristen writes more, I have an article about adrenal fatigue that you might find helpful.

    Vin – NaturalBias

  13. Marc Feel Good Eating
    June 17, 2009 | 8:20 am

    Kristin,

    Great post and I’m looking forward to the series.
    Gave you a little shout out on my blog.

    Marc

    Marc Feel Good Eating

  14. Christina
    June 17, 2009 | 11:21 am

    Vin @ NaturalBias — Great article on adrenal fatigue! I have been striving for the past few months to be in bed before 10:00 even though my whole body wants to stay up until 1:00 a.m. I am so full of energy at that time. My old naturopathic doctor said I didn’t just have adrenal fatigue, but rather “adrenal blowout.” And the adrenal blowout has lead to hypothyroidism. Joy, joy. So, these things I fight from my past life of stress, sugar addiction, processed food, no exercise, etc. It’s an uphill battle, but definitely a battle I’m taking on. Thanks for the encouraging article! P.S. When one of you figures out the natural cure to heal and restore the thyroid from hypothyroidism, please let me know! I’ve read numerous books and online articles, but can’t get anything better than Armour thryoid. So, Kristen, please find us a cure in all your research!! LOL

  15. Karen
    June 17, 2009 | 1:40 pm

    Great post! I am always surprised (well, not so much anymore…) when people don’t make the diet and health connection. Food is medicine – for better OR worse. I will be particularly interested in your findings on the endocrine system. Often times overlooked and very misunderstood.

    Karen

  16. Merf
    June 17, 2009 | 6:43 pm

    I’m really looking forward to this series. Thank you in advance!

  17. chas
    June 19, 2009 | 12:54 pm

    Hey Kristen

    Beautiful post, and ironically published the same day that I posted about the Problem with Prevention, using the same photo of that beautiful smiling man! Obviously we are on the same path!

    Thank you for doing what you do so well: educating and encouraging the public to eat Truly Nourishing Food and live Truly Healthy Lives!

    chas

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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