When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives.
– Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
When you’re in chiropractic, a lot of people will usually put you into the camp of holistic and crunchy professions. For the most part, that assumption about me would be correct. I attempt to eat organic as much as I can, I’m a fan of breastfeeding and natural childbirth movements, and I do take pride in the fact that I’ve never needed to take antibiotics.
However, I think the holistic community can take the philosophy of naturalism to irrational extremes up to the point of fear mongering. There are many in the holistic community that would have you think that eating a conventionally raised apple will have you dead by morning or brushing your teeth with anything but coconut oil will give you mouth cancer. Everything is a toxin. Whether it’s gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners, non-alkalized water, MSG, nightshade vegetables, and more.
If you take a look through many of the articles on Naturalnews.com or Mercola.com, the heaviest hitters in the natural movement, if you don’t live on your own organic farm inside of an anti-toxic bubble, you may as well just stop living yesterday.
Here’s a big piece of the puzzle that a lot of people forget about when it comes to holism and naturalism. The human body isn’t so weak that small amounts of “toxins” are going to kill you. As a healthy human being, you are RESILIANT!
- the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.
- the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
The human body under normal circumstances is a robust and resiliant healing machine. Many of the physiological mechanisms within the body have evolved to make the body stronger in response to stressful environments.
– Bones are harder and stronger in response to exercise and gravity
– Immune cells develop memory in response to attack
– Digestion improves with greater exposure to bacteria
– Muscles grow when you lift and tear them little by little.
The examples can go on and on.
Now this doesn’t mean that we need to go out of the way to abuse our bodies and intentionally do things that we suspect will cause harm (see Supersize Me). I’m just so tired of taking care of people that feel like if they break from their perfect natural bubble, that their bodies will far apart.
It means that we shouldn’t subscribe to dogma when making lifestyle decisions. It means that we shouldn’t feel pressured or scared into needing vitamins, magic cancer curing mushrooms, or avoiding gluten without an allergy or sensitivity. I’ll even take this into my own profession, in saying don’t be scared into needing constant spinal manipulation.
You and your genes are only here today because your ancestors developed the ability to survive famine, plague, harsh winters, and sweltering summers. The human body’s ability to continuously adapt has likely made us stronger as a species. If you have a health condition that requires routine treatment and intervention, then that’s what you need.
But if you are predominantly healthy already, there are times that we just need to let our bodies be. When we take away the belief that our bodies are resiliant, we learn to rely on fads, potions, juices, diets, and products to improve our lives, when in reality it may be making us weaker.
A great example of this can be found in a couple of places. The hygiene hypothesis of allergies says that more people are having asthma and allergies because over sanitation is preventing our exposure to normal exposure to bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. While this is great in reducing infectious illness, it is also disrupting the function of our immune system.
What Should We Do About it?
I think this is a unique perspective, and it’s only really directed at healthy people, but the answer is this:
Stop trying to live inside of a perfect gluten-free, MSG-free bubble if it’s limiting your ability to have a social life.
Stop trying to make everything a simple cause of sickness and illness, when the causes for sickness and illness are dynamic and complex.
Stop looking to the latest fad as the next tip for longevity. The people who live the longest in the world weren’t the ones that had a secret juice or lived ascetic lives. They just lived and happened to keep going
Let your body be exposed to stress and danger once in a while, because you never know how much stronger it will get because of it.