Your Greatest Preparedness Asset
By Kyle D. Christensen, DC, ND, MH
Changes are coming. Many suggest that we are on the cusp of financial and economic set backs with rumors of the collapse of the Euro to be quickly followed by the dollar. Natural disasters in the form of volcanic activity and earthquakes with the threat of tsunami are escalating at an unprecedented rate. The Rule of Law has been taken from the people by politicians and judges whose dictates appear to favor the agendas of small but aggressive special interest groups. The moral compass is spinning out of control and the crosshairs seem to be sighted on Christianity. So called “religions of peace” are seemingly given a pass on violent and murderous acts, while free speech is only tolerated from the liberal and progressive left. What was once considered evil is now praised as freedom of choice and lobbied for as constitutional rights and what was once deemed as moral and virtuous is shouted down as intolerant, divisive and politically incorrect. Finally, the healthcare in our nation currently rank as number one on money spent per person, yet limps behind the modern world in quality of life and life expectancy with 35 countries out living us and 34 countries deliver healthier babies with higher survival rates.
Yes, to many of us, it feels like things may be getting worse (a lot worse) before they get better. As a result, some (not as many as should), but some, are focusing their time, attention and dollars on preparedness with the ever-looming question, WHAT IF…?
In the cycling and backpacking world a new term has arisen over the past couple of decades. Ultra-light. The concept is simple. Lighter equipment will result in less physical exertion allowing the athlete to go faster and farther. Ultra-light almost always comes with a hefty price tag. Dollars are set on the counter for titanium bicycle components or camping cookware thus shaving off grams of weight or if you really spend the bucks, a few ounces. Here is the irony – very often those boasting of the backpack or bike weighing-in under 20 pounds could easily stand to lose 20 pounds from their waistline.
And so it is with preparedness. We see preparedness enthusiasts plunking down hard earned money for the latest and greatest supplies and gear, yet they sometimes have neglected their most valuable preparedness asset. Their Health. You see, when and if there is ever a hiccup in the economy or outright collapse of life as we know it, if you cannot be truly self-reliant at least for a time, you stand a much greater chance of suffering or becoming a casualty.
The reality of healthcare in the United States is that 80 percent of health care costs are the result of persistently poor lifestyle choices. From Type 2 Diabetes and obesity, to Heart Disease and stroke to most cancers and arthritis, we earn our way to the doctors’ office and hospitals because of lifestyle choices made based on convenience (in our diets) and laziness (lack of adequate exercise). And sadly, when you finally come to yourselves, for many it is too late because you have so severely damaged and broken your body through misuse and mismanagement that the saying “you can’t get there from here” resounds true. I believe however, that this is the exception and applies to only a small percent. I have witnessed a great many who have returned from deaths doorstep and have returned from drug and medical dependency to a healthy active drug free life.
While the way to health is achievable, it will require change. And for many this change, while rewarding, will not be convenient, but it will be worth it. You see you have been caught in a trap, a trap that has been shrewdly planned and meticulously set in your path. Please understand that THEY are not looking out for your best interests. THEY – being the food manufacturers, the drug companies, the tobacco and alcohol industries and even the government does not sit in their meetings trying to figure out how to make John and Jane Q. Publics life happier and more complete. The conversations are more along the lines of how to increase their financial profits, their control and using (or misusing) you to meet their various agendas.
Is it noble desires and sincerity of interest that caffeine is added to the liquid candy we call soda pop? Or is it designed to create a physical addiction or dependency to keep you purchasing the products? We have been carefully marketed lies and half-truths in an effort for someone else to make money from our addictions, naivety and desires to get something without paying the real price (fitness without exercise, health without a good diet). This malicious marketing comes from both sides of the healthcare isle. I believe that those pushing their ‘natural – super healthy’ ware can be just as misleading and devious as those promoting regulated substances. For example, the advertiser who convinces you that you can get all of your fruits and vegetables with their capsules or delicious powder mixed in a drink. That way you won’t have to eat those nasty tasting – prone-to-rot fruits and vegetables sold in the produce section.
It is human nature to try to get the greatest results with the least effort. Remember the old margarine commercials that said “you can’t fool mother nature” – well you can’t. You can’t eat unhealthy foods (processed, pre-packaged, denatured, manipulated, microwaved, modified and “enriched”) and undo the damage of putting those in your body by popping a few pills or drinking a smoothie. Likewise, you cannot be sedentary and expect to have energy and health into your middle or senior years. So now we have picky eater grows up and decides to not inflict the emotional trauma they experienced as a child upon their kids. But at what cost?. So you don’t like to eat healthy. So you don’t like to exercise (oh, and I am so tired of hearing women tell me, ‘I don’t like to sweat’.). That is all fine and dandy, but please don’t expect to escape the consequences of your picky or childish behavior.
Sadly, many use nutritional supplements as a crutch to offset a lazy or self-destructive lifestyle. Unfortunately, we have been programmed through orthodox medicine that health conditions are inevitable and that degenerative conditions are best to be managed rather than cured (oops, I’m not supposed to say that word, ‘cured’ – darn I said it again). Just because we have a whole nation that has bought in to this lie, doesn’t make it true. Arthritis, heart disease, dementia and diabetes are not inevitable – only if you do as most Americans do.
A great challenge of getting healthy is trusting who to believe. In our population many are ardent supporters of modern medical practice, yet we find that “established medical facts” seem to change – the latest being that eating saturated fats and cholesterol is NOT linked to heart and artery disease. And that the cholesterol-lowering drugs (the statins) are shown to accelerate heart disease. This is coming from the American Heart Association. Likewise, consuming salt is no longer the villain once supposed.
The Reason to take a Supplement
I believe that the reason to take a supplement is so that you won’t have to take supplements. Let me explain. If I have a health concern or condition that is associated with a deficiency of a nutrient, I should be able to supply my body with that particular set of nutrients (found in a supplement or better yet in healthy foods), heal the body and then once I am well, I no longer need to take the supplement – provided that my diet is adequate and healthy.
However, I continue to see people who have been taking an ever-rotating combination of nutrients, drugs, and concoctions for decades. The natural supplement industry markets the concept that our food is so deficient in nutrients that unless you take ‘their’ high potency, super-duper pill or powder, you cannot hope to obtain any semblance of health.
Some may argue that the quality of our food has been so decimated due to chemical fertilizers and improper agricultural practices that the nutrition of all food has been reduced to almost nothing, therefore, NO ONE can be healthy solely by eating food. Therefore, it is necessary that a significant portion of your food budget be spent on pills, powders, oils or potions.
I, for one, don’t buy it. I agree that quality is a major issue, but I also believe that if you shop right, and prepared your own food from scratch, you can and should get nutrition from the foods that you eat. The problem is the foods that YOU eat. Not only are many of us not eating healthy foods, but we eat foods that will pull, draw out or inactivate the nutrients that do manage to find their way into the digestive tract. The primary “Anti-Food”, of course, is processed SUGAR. This substance alone has caused and is causing more health problems that probably everything else combined. It is the main contributing factor behind diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers and adrenal fatigue. It is highly addictive, but let’s face it – it really tastes good.
Understand, I am not suggesting that eating sweets is a bad thing. After all, God gave us taste buds that specifically taste sweetness. And he wired these sweet-tasting buds to the pleasure centers in the brain. Sweets are not the problem. It is sweets made from refined and processed sugars – high-fructose corn syrup, white sugar, and all of the chemical sounding names that mean sugar. The artificial sweeteners are probably worse for other reasons – but that is another discussion. (However, there does appear to be a direct link between High Blood Pressure and consuming Corn Syrup). I believe that eating the sweetness that is found in fruits, honey, and real maple syrup are good. (Sorry, Agave fans – it’s highly processed and not on the healthy list).
In addition to sugars, things such as plastics cause health problems. Plastics are known to be hormone disruptors. Ever wonder why so many people have hormonal problems (thyroid, testosterone, estrogen and adrenal) – look to plastics as at least one of the contributors. The list of harmful chemicals we are exposed to goes on and on.
Those who enjoy good healthy may not be overly concerned with this aspect of being prepared for “come what may”. However, if you are unhealthy, restoring your health should jump to the top you’re your priorities.
Getting healthy is often not much more than returning to the basics (or discovering them for the first time). Rarely have I seen the pharmaceutical approach to health successful. Pharmaceuticals (drugs) for chronic and degenerative conditions generally suppress or manipulate symptoms to give the illusion of health. The paths that I suggest to restore your health is 1) Eating a healthy and nourishing diet, 2) taking nutritional supplements that may be missing from your diet and 3) Lifestyle changes, such as exercise, adequate rest, etc.
Can you really get the nutritional building blocks to build and maintain health solely by the foods that you eat? I believe, yes, but you will have to work at it. Can you rebuild and maintain health by taking the right supplements and still get away with eating a poor diet? I believe, no. Mostly, because of the anti-nutritional properties of foods that were touched on earlier (sugar, white flour, plastics, hydrogenated oils, food additives, etc.).
Without getting in to specific health conditions, let me offer you some general recommendations on building your health.
Exercise - 6 days a week, you must be moving you body doing something that would be considered exercise. Walk, swim, or cycle, you've got to do something. Log how many minutes each day. Set some goals. Remember: A goal not written, is only a wish.
Sleep - we've been taught from childhood that we need eight hours each night. Understand that hours of sleep BEFORE midnight are more beneficial than those after. Schedule bedtime so that you get at least 8 hours. You may need more or less, but plan on eight. Figure what you really need and sleep in a DARK room.
Deep Breathing - Oxygen is vitally important for good brain function. Take time to breath deeply each day. Think of it as clearing out the cobwebs in the lungs and brain.
Avoid Negative Thinking - Stinkin Thinkin! Are you sarcastic, pessimistic or talk too much about what is wrong? Certainly, we must live in this world of grief, sorrow and gloom, (and we are not promoting naivete), but as you focus on the positive, your brain will begin to change in good way. Try this Goal: I went a whole day without saying anything negative.
Water - Drink Eight - 8 oz glasses of water per day. It should be pure, filtered water. Drink from glass containers. Avoid plastic.
Diet - You cannot expect to be healthy if your body is taking in harmful chemicals, preservatives, food additives and the plethora of unnatural foods. Eat whole natural foods! Enjoy a plant-based diet loaded with fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables diet. At our home, we are vegetarians that cheat (eating small amounts of meat occasionally). Bottom line is grow up and eat healthy.
Spiritual Activity - Develop a spiritual pattern of daily prayer/meditation/contemplation and scripture study. Avoid reading a certain number of chapters or pages, rather spend 20 to 30 minutes each day. It is okay to spend all of your time on just a verse or two. Ponder and reflect on what scripture means in your daily life. Memorize favorite verses.
Classical Music - Music can fill your soul with light or darkness. Relaxation or tension. Classical music, harp music and lovely melodies really can soothe the soul. Download or purchase music that will lift your soul. Listen to it. Really listen. I'm not talking background music, I'm suggesting sitting and consciously listening.
Sunlight - We all need light. Make the effort to get in the sunlight every day. It is healing, it will increase your vitamin D. Most depressed people are vitamin D deficient and taking a supplement is not as good as the Vitamin D created by sunlight touching your skin. Depending on the fairness of your skin, you will be able to tolerate more or less direct sunlight. Remember, you do not want to get sunburned.
I hear far too often, “Isn’t there just something I can take?” Honestly, No, there isn’t. In order to change your life (from being sick and drug dependent), you must change your lifestyle. This encompasses changing the way you eat – which necessitates spending time in the kitchen making food from quality ingredients from scratch. It necessitates that you get some sunshine, exercise and go to bed early. It may mean that you find healthier forms of entertainment – too much time in front of a video or computer screen will slowly but steadily suck the life out of you.
Can you restore your health without supplements. YES, but it takes work, planning and preparation. I often find that a combination of diet, lifestyle changes and a few key supplements will give you the fastest results.
If your goal is to get off your prescribed medications, understand that you should work with your doctor and pharmacist to do so. The objective is to make the meds no longer necessary. As your health grows, the action of the drugs will be too strong, thus requiring a lower dosage. As this continues, eventually the meds may no longer be necessary. Going off prescription drugs ‘cold turkey’ before your health has been restored can be foolish and even deadly in some cases.
The backpacker or cyclist, trudging up a hill with an over-weight, out-of-shape body may not justify spending thousands on losing ounces on equipment weight when losing the weight makes more sense. Having your basic preparedness needs and a healthy fit body (regardless of your age) that is accustomed to and actually enjoys healthy food and physical work and exercise is preferable to being overweight and drug-dependent with all of the cool preps money can buy.
Obtaining good health will take more than a casual commitment. For many, it will need to be a major physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual shift. Transformation is possible. If your goal is health, sit down with a loved one and do it together. It is a road of spiritual adventure and discovery.
Dr. Kyle D. Christensen, DC, ND, MH