Monday, September 14, 2020

PSA: Avoid Sugar When Fighting Illness

My son started coughing last weekend. That’s OK. He is 4 years old and his immune system is still very much developing. That said, my daughter’s friend brought a special treat (cookie cake) to a play date at our house and, even though it upset my son, I wouldn’t let him partake. On Labor Day, we gathered with friends for a float (down the river) trip and special treats (cookies) were offered. I managed to keep my son away from those too. By Tuesday morning, the cough was on its way out.

The refined sugar found in candy, cookies, cake, etc. suppresses the immune system and generally decreases the normal functioning of the very well oiled machine that is the human body. So, when already exhibiting signs – like coughing – that your immune system is fighting a stronger opponent, then one of the best supports you can provide your body is to avoid the various things that slow down immune response, like special treats.

Unfortunately, when I picked up my son from pre-school on Wednesday, I learned that he had consumed two chocolate doughnuts in honor of a classmate’s birthday. His teacher told me that his nose had been running. It was a safe assumption that the elimination of his cough – or, more importantly, the underlying agent causing it – was no longer imminent. Sure enough, the cough continued and got worse. Two days later, he had a brownie and some cheese puffs (not so sugary, but loaded with its own destructive materials) at pre-school for another birthday party. Unsurprisingly, his cough is actually peaking one week after it started instead of going away.

I certainly don’t blame anyone for this, but this is a prime example of the battle for health that we face, ladies and gentlemen. Kids are sicker today that at any point in the last 50 years. Let that sink in and then ask the obvious question, “Why?”

Many things shape our terrible American health system, but one of the least talked about dynamics is the simple lack of education on how to stay healthy. “Sugar feeds infection” is not common knowledge; it should be. Nutritional education is virtually non-existent.

Ideally, it would be written into the by-laws of every school that if a child was showing overt signs of fighting illness, then they shouldn’t be allowed to have sugary snacks, regardless of the occasion; the few minutes of being upset is well worth a healthier kid first of all, but there is also the domino effect to consider – if the immune system of one child is suppressed, then the infection gets stronger and more likely to effect other kids who are simultaneously suppressing their immune systems with the special treats (this is one of the primary ways that infection spreads, by the way). Frankly, as a parent, I’d like to be informed of the junk food my child is set to consume so that I can give my consent for it and help them prepare for it by counteracting it with constructive, nutritional foods before and after. Until health education improves, those things won’t happen.

On the bright side, just as sugar fuels infection, watching my kids stay sicker for longer fuels my fire to ramp up the educational process and further stimulate long overdue change in healthcare. So, here’s a call to action to parents, teachers, grandparents, etc.: let’s reverse the trend of today’s kids being the first in modern history to be sicker than the generation before theirs, and let’s start by recognizing simple things like “sugar feeds infection.”

What is “The Doctor Inside” Each of Us? (Part 1)

It is common for holistic health practitioners to use phrases like “every person carries his or her own doctor inside, and we are our best when we give the doctor inside a chance to work[i].”  What does that really mean, though?  What is the “doctor inside”? 

To preface, the answer to those questions is what makes the holistic paradigm distinct from the traditional medical model.  Anything non-medical is described in American society as “alternative to” or “complimentary of” medicine, but in reality the truly holistic practices are separate from and distinct to medicine, as clearly defined in their separate roles as an electrician and a firefighter.  Each paradigm has its own philosophy and methodology. 

Holistic means the comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected, and explicable only by reference to the whole[ii].  When taught about anatomy (structure), physiology (function), neurology (communication), psychology (thoughts), etc. as separate entities with just vague reference to how interrelated they all are, it leaves out important contextualization, causing misunderstandings about health, what it is and how to achieve it.  The next step in the healthcare revolution is a better big picture understanding of how perfectly the human body exemplifies the phrase “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” also known as synergy. 

So, regarding the “doctor inside,” the meaning of the phrase is rooted in acknowledgment, based on the logic derived from indisputable facts, that there is an intelligence that exists in everything…in all matter.  This intelligence is different than the kind talked about in educational settings.  Instead, this intelligence is an expression of the infinite, as in the infinite number of coordinated functions that just took place inside each reader’s body over the last split second; or the wonders of the world, those amazing things that just happen, like a dogwood tree that blooms for one glorious week each year or the way that a developing baby has a beating heart less than a month after conception, and the processes that make each possible.  Education allows us to know that fertile soil along with balanced access to water and sunlight makes it probable for a dogwood to grow and bloom, but what makes it grow – and what makes a fetal heartbeat possible in 3 weeks – is an inherent intelligence that manages the process. 

The purpose of the intelligence in question is to organize, like the arrangement of earth among the other planets, and the volatile concoction of components making up an atom that would explode if not meticulously organized[iii].  As a form of infinite wisdom, if you will, this intelligence renders what humans know a speck of dust in an otherwise pristinely clean ballroom.  Science has given us a great deal of advantages, but it has also skewed the perceptions of many away from confidence and trust in something greater than science alone can offer.  There is a rational desire to be able to prove as much as we can, to unlock the vault to be discovered if we could just further tap into the source of that synergy – that interconnectivity among the various parts of the body, for instance.  When that desire manifests a battle between science and God, though, it is grounds for taking a step back to re-evaluate.  Truly, it is just another reason why all or nothing culture needs to move aside and make way for the currently elusive middle ground, the place where human evolution will continue (why not science and God?)

There is a certain safety in focusing only on the things that can be controlled, but to understand the “doctor inside” and, thus, to better comprehend health conceptually, there must be recognition that there is much beyond our conscious control and that some guiding intelligence governs the rest.  When eating food, for instance, our control ends at chewing and swallowing.  There is no conscious requirement for digestion of the food, so what controls digestion?  What prevents the bite slightly too big from getting lodged in the tubes of the small intestine?  What maintains the steady rhythm of contracting and relaxing used to push food through the system?  What makes the enzymes break down the food and disperse nutrients to the rest of the body?  The answer is intelligence, which many[iv] call God, maintaining harmony so that internal chaos does not ensue. 

Holistic professions like Upper Cervical Chiropractic posit that a primary way to give the “doctor inside” a chance to work is to correct head/neck misalignment, which balances the body and allows the proper flow of communication from the brain to the affected areas, immediately relaxing muscles, increasing blood and oxygen circulation, and stimulating the self-healing process to continue optimally[v].  The power that made the body can heal the body if interference to its function is removed.   

Synergy – harmony is synonymous here – can be seen everywhere.  Any diehard sports fan knows about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts; it is clear and obvious when watching elite teams that a highly coordinated effort among coaches and players, and not a series of random occurrences from exceptional individuals, leads to victory.  The same could be said of a superlative symphony orchestra and the beautiful music that it produces.  It is organization at its conscious finest.  “The doctor inside” is organization at God’s finest.  

[i] Albert Schweitzer paraphrased

[ii] Oxford Dictionary

[iii] The Triune of Life by Dr. Reggie Gold

[iv] I, Chad McIntyre, included

[v] Dr. Daniel O. Clark