Adventures In Self Discovery To Transform Your Life
Manage Your Health
“Did you have a good bowel movement this morning, sisters?”Mahatma Gandhi
We were about to cross a river in Germany in 1945. I was lying in the snow and mud behind a log, cold, wet, hungry, alone and scared. We were waiting for the German 88’s to stop shelling. Eventually, our 105 howitzers got on their case and they quit. Living and sleeping in holes in the mud and snow taught me a lot about how to take care of myself. I also learned how to get along with men from other places. At that moment, my rules for survival looked pretty simple.
• Maintain body temperature
• Drink lots of water
• Eat, sleep, shit and piss whenever you can.
• Keep your head down.
• Never allow yourself to get too hungry, too angry, too lonely or too tired.
Worked in war, works now. Well, it got me to my 90th birthday. Yet, survival is just the beginning of the good life.
I learned that I was completely responsible for my own health and safety. I could not delegate this responsibility without risk. I could not trust other people because no one else knows what is going on within me. Today, when someone claims to know what I am feeling or thinking, the bullshit flag goes up. No one knows what I need. I have to learn what that is by trying stuff and listening to my body. I found that I could make myself sick easily enough with:
• A poor or inadequate diet
• A lack of exercise
• Excessive use of drugs, tobacco, alcohol
• Psychological stress; TV, noise, troubles, negativity
• Exposure to disease
• Physical trauma
All I need to support good health is nutritious food, clean water, clean air, exercise, a positive attitude and some good friends. Right now, I try to build and maintain health by:
• Being willing to be healthy
(avoiding prevention or disease thinking and assuming health)
• Handling my upsets
(self awareness, meditation, relaxation, detachment, humor)
• Having a positive attitude
(accepting now, GRIN)
• Eating the best food I can afford
(a low carbohydrate, medium protein, low saturated fat diet)
• Drinking plenty of water daily
• Exercising 20 minutes a day, 3 times a week
• Walking 30 minutes every day
• Relaxing whenever possible
• Avoiding poisons – tobacco, dope, drugs, TV, pollution, anger
• Creating the inner experience of being healthy and happy
(remember how it feels then be that way)
Nothing in this book is offered as professional or medical advice. What I offer here is my personal experience and opinions. I am not suggesting any idea or action be tried or used by anyone else. You have to experiment and find out what works for you. This is simply what I do.
Good Health Is Our Natural State
The brain and body are organized to produce health and well being. All healing is self healing. Relieving symptoms does not produce health. All our brain and body processes are initiated by, moderated by, and result in chemical reactions. All healing efforts must ultimately affect the whole body’s chemistry. In the end it all comes down to molecules. Wounds, stress and disease unbalance natural processes. The brain and body change their chemistry to get back in balance.
Of all the illness we experience, the body will heal:
• 65%, over time (cuts, colds, craziness)
• 20% when you remove the cause (appendicitis, drugs, mother in laws)
• 10% when you get specific medical treatment (bone breaks, infections)
• 5% will become chronic over time as you wear out
• 1 illness will finally do you in.
We are just beginning to understand the complexity of the human body and its processes. Doctors, nurses and health professionals are trying to use an ever expanding body of knowledge about the body. They are still sorting out what works and does not. When I was a child, doctors often admitted they didn't know. Not so much anymore. My Uncle John was Chief of Surgery at Cook County Hospital in Chicago and professor at Northwestern University. He once told me.“About 40% of what we do as doctors is pure superstition.” I imagine this is still true.
We are beginning to know a lot about how the body works. But, we’re still covering our ongoing ignorance with empty abstractions and hopeful prescriptions. Looks to me like much of today’s sophisticated medical practice is statistical do-gooder medicine. Fleets of drugs chase little understood ailments. Facts like these support a skeptical view of medical claims.
• In the United States we spend $3 trillion dollars a year on health care.
• Nearly half of us are on medications, mostly for high cholesterol and heart disease.
• About 60% of 65+ year olds take 5 or more medications a day, 18% take at least ten.
• The 10 best selling drugs help only 2-25% of those who take them.
• Statins benefit as few as 1 in 50.
• Medical errors in hospitals kill 400,000 people a year and harm 4-6 million.
• There are 2 million cases of adverse drug reactions in the USA, leading to 100,000 deaths.
Despite the hype, no one really knows all that much about how the human body works. We are products of our physical body, our 'mind', our relationships, everything around us. Our health problems are complexes of all these.
I hate to get fooled. Two hundred years ago we began using a method to sort out superstition and wishful thinking from what actually works in the universe. It's called science. Guess, test and confirm. So, when a doctor offers me a diagnosis and prescription, I do some research before I accept it. For traditional medicine, I start with www.webmd.com or www.intelihealth.com. I check the evidence based medical web sites, like www.bandolier.com. For nontraditional medical stuff, I start with www.herbmed.org and end with www.quackwatch.com.
As a result of long experience:
• I do not take palliatives unless there is no useful alternative. My nose runs when I have a cold to clear my sinuses. Nature's way, no need to help.
• I do not take any drug until I have researched the current Physician's Desk Reference data and the United Hospital Drug Formulary Service.
• I do not take any drug unless I fully understand the contraindications and side effects and am willing to experience them.
•I do not take any drug that has been on the market less than five years. Twenty per cent of new drugs are withdrawn for serious side effects within 5 years of FDA approval and release.
• I do not take any new drug if there is an older drug that is effective for my condition.
• I do not use any alternative treatments or medicines unless they have been tested and found effective. That would be through scientifically designed, double blind, placebo controlled, statistically significant, duplicated research studies.
Our sick bodies are already trying to get well. About 65% of illness is self limiting or already on the mend. When we’re ill, we can become anxious, inner directed, focused on symptoms and depressed. When we decide to take action to get better, we drive the healing process. Believing something will heal you tends to help your body do its job. It’s a mental/physical state that mobilizes all the body’s healing resources. You can mobilize this state through suggestion, visualization and meditation.
Thinking Makes It So
Healing professionals think in terms of doing something to you. But, healers do not heal. They assist the body’s natural healing process. The patient enters a healing context. Something is done to him that he accepts as potentially healing. His symptoms change. Healers can provide testing, diagnosis, medicine, attention, affection, information, positive beliefs, expectation of health, support, soothing physical contact, ritual and peer pressure. All are valuable. We need to cooperate and give ourselves permission to get well. We can mobilize or strengthen our natural healing chemistry.
The effectiveness of physicians, healers and pills owes much to the placebo effect. Folks report healing benefits from foot reflexology, therapeutic touch, colonic irrigation, iridology, ear candling, reiki, magnet therapy, homeopathy and chelation. These have been tested and failed to produce significant results. The cures attributed to amulets, Bach flower remedies, cell salts, Chinese herbs, craniopathy, faith healing, naturopathy, polarity therapy, psychic surgery, radiesthesia, radionics, royal touch and other therapies may be largely due to placebo effect. Claims that healing is due to energy, rays, colors, fields, auras, invisible forces or God tends to cloud or hide from us what we can consciously and responsibly do for ourselves. Anyone claiming healing from these sources should be required to demonstrate how they work to change body chemistry. Let’s take responsibility for keeping ourselves healthy first. Let’s teach and encourage other people to keep themselves healthy. Then, when we are unwell, let’s take responsibility for healing ourselves by:
• Being willing to get well
Do this consciously and reinforce regularly. Carefully evaluate the attention and goodies you will have to give up. Maybe you are better off sick. Just kidding.
• Believing we can
I go to allopaths (traditional physicians) for acute trauma like heart attacks, fluid in the lungs, twisted bowels, obstructed bile ducts, kidney stones, inflamed appendix, brain hemorrhage, broken bones and acute infections by protozoa, bacteria, fungus and parasites.
I go to allopaths for diagnosis but am willing to try other other therapies for nutritional or metabolic disease like diabetes, chronic degenerative disease like arthritis, hypertension, allergies, autoimmune disease and mental illness. I am willing to try vitamins, vacations, meditation, visualization, focusing, diet changes, relaxation, exercise, stretching, sun baths, swimming, massage, job change, spouse change, self improvement courses. I am also willing to ask other people for help when I’ve tried everything I can think of that might make a difference. So far that has worked or maybe I'm just lucky.
Eat To Live
We are what we eat...mostly water held together by some proteins, carbohydrates, fat and micronutrients. We need a certain amount of fuel to keep our bodies running, say 1,500 calories minimum. To be healthy we need:
• protein (a minimum of 70-100 grams a day, about 300 calories) and
• fat (6-10 grams of linoleic acid about 75 calories)
But we don’t really need a lot of carbohydrates. We could live on protein and fat alone. Eskimos often do. Our bodies can turn fat into carbohydrate (glucose actually). They can and do turn extra carbohydrates into fat. Look at the fat people around you who are on low fat/high carb “weight loss” diets. We usually get all three major nutrients because they are built into the meat and vegetables we eat.
It’s the balance that matters. The key is in the protein level which we need for building and repairing everything else. If we don’t get enough protein, our body can’t build the bone, muscle, enzymes and hormones we need to function. We get sickly, physically and mentally. It takes some thought and work to get enough high quality protein. The balance among nutrients is maintained by two hormones; insulin and glucagon. Insulin regulates blood sugar. It also controls fat storage, the flow of amino acids and other nutrients to the tissues, the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. It acts as a growth hormone, guides the kidney’s fluid control and more. It’s kind of a master hormone. That’s the beneficial side. Too much insulin causes high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, elevated cholesterol and diabetes. I have been a diet controlled diabetic for forty years.
How can we get too much insulin? Eat a lot of carbohydrates; most of it turns into sugar. The insulin then rushes in to control the sugar by burning it, storing it or turning it into fat. The typical American diet is designed to produce insulin and all its negative effects.
The solution that has worked for me for thirty years is cut back on carbs, increase protein and unsaturated fats, take vitamin and micronutrient supplements, drink lots of water, exercise daily. As I put each part of this program into practice, I felt surprisingly more energetic, clear-headed and emotionally stable. I plan to eat 20 grams of protein at each meal, plus two 10 gram snacks, midmorning and mid-afternoon. The snacks are important to maintain an even supply of available nutrients. I never let myself get hungry. I eat a lot of lean meat, fish and chicken. The average adult needs about five portions of any of these each day. A portion is about the size of a deck of cards. I try to eat healthy fats, like olive oil. With this low level of carbohydrates, any extra fat gets burned. I drink several glasses of water a day and have a glass of wine with dinner. Lots of water is vital to keeping body chemistry functioning.
Daily exercise is vital. I do 20 minutes of anaerobic exercises every other day, three days a week. I use my own weight in 15 repetitions of a series of movements I assembled from exercise books. The key is doing a movement until I feel a slight burn which triggers new muscle cell development. The new muscle cells use insulin more efficiently. On the other days, I do some stretches and mild aerobics or take a long walk. A proper diet and exercise make a noticeable difference in the way my body feels and keeps my blood sugar levels low. Be aware that these are old bones speaking. Younger people would benefit from more intensive programs.
Feed your brain to feel well
The care and feeding of the brain is the key to feeling good. The brain depends on chemistry. Give it the right chemicals and you feel good. Give it the wrong chemicals and you feel poorly. The body makes the chemicals the brain uses from what you eat, drink and breath. You can test this by not drinking, eating or breathing for a few weeks. Guaranteed bummer.
What we put in our mouths also drives our thoughts and feelings. The brain’s built in “feel good” chemistry is based on several neurotransmitters; serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, endorphins. When the neurotransmitters are present and active, we get a lift and feel good. No “feel good” chemistry, no feel good. We learn early enough how to artificially stimulate the neurotransmitters with alcohol and drugs. We get the lift, then crash when the drugs destroy or block the “feel good” chemistry.
Change your chemistry and your thoughts and feelings change. Change your thoughts and your brain chemistry changes. Nobody knows exactly how this works but it seems to. The job then is to feed our bodies and brains good chemicals to build the foundation of a positive outlook and life experience. It helps to really enjoy eating good food.
©2012-2015 Keith Gilchrist - not for distribution or reproduction