by Dr. Darin Stokke
I remember the day 13 years ago when a kind, soft-spoken gentleman called our office requesting a new patient consultation, not for himself, but for his wife. Oddly, the gentleman arrived at the appointment alone and brought with him several pages of his wife’s very extensive health assessment performed just a few weeks prior by a well known testing company. The testing appeared to focus on risks for stroke, heart disease, and osteoporosis and included the use of a variety of diagnostic testing equipment, some common blood tests, vital signs, and bone density radiographs. I had never met his wife nor had the opportunity to perform an examination on her. However, on paper, looking only at the results of the testing, his wife appeared to be in excellent health in all categories and had been rated to have minimal to no risks across the board in all test results. The problem was, he had just received his wife’s test results from the company that performed the testing two days after his wife had died unexpectedly from a cardiac health crisis. The poor man was obviously hurting from his loss and was hoping for a second opinion of the results. The question was quite clear: what happened if the testing showed his wife was in excellent health just two weeks prior? The fault certainly wasn’t on the quality of the testing nor on the company doing the testing, but rather on the obvious limitation of the tests and our culture’s misunderstanding of the word “Health.”
Traditionally, most of us have assessed our health as either the presence or absence of symptoms or abnormalities. If we are free of pain, have normal blood pressure, are thin, have a good pulse rate and have normal cholesterol levels, we often feel confident we are healthy. The problem is, defining health isn’t as simple as a lack of pain or a number on a test. The definition of “Health” according to the World Health Organization is a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Anything less than an optimally functioning body and mind is often the first warning sign of an underlying disease or a lack of health. If we are experiencing pain, headaches, lack energy, have trouble sleeping, feel stiff and sore, or don’t feel the normal “mojo” we used to feel, then our body is clearly not experiencing health, no matter what any test results may show.
Optimal functioning means having everything in balance or what science calls “Homeostasis.” Every moment of our life, our body is adapting to the world around us and inside us. True health can be looked at as a process of continuous adaptation to the myriad of microbes, irritants, pressures, thoughts, and problems that challenge us daily. Maintaining balance may require our body to shiver when it’s cold, sweat when it’s hot, vomit when we eat rotten food, produce a fever when we are under attack from a microbe, or raise our pulse and blood pressure when we rise out of bed or lift a heavy object. These are healthy adaptations! The ability of our body to adapt and maintain balance or homeostasis is health.
Early detection tests are often very helpful and necessary, but also very limited in many respects. Let’s not be fooled into thinking a normal reading or a lack of abnormal findings means we’re perfectly healthy. Health is a daily journey, not a destination. Health begins today with the choices we make. To experience health we can start by honoring our body’s normal functioning, connect more to nature, eat foods in their most natural state, let go of anger and resentment, find peace in work and relationships, be filled with gratitude, maintain a balanced body, enjoy healthy movements each day, maintain proper posture, limit things that pollute our body, and sleep in peace all night.
Don’t wait…life is meant to be lived so live it well and live it with purpose. Don’t wait for a health crisis to occur. Choose well and begin today living the life you desire and deserve.
Dr. Stokke is a Chiropractic Physician at Lifestyles Chiropractic located on Lindbergh Avenue near Norman Love Confections. You may reach him by calling 230-334-9355, or visit www.LifestylesChiro.com.