The human physique is made up of a myriad of systems, all interacting one with the other to support a healthy, finely tuned body to proceed with our daily lives. All these different systems, such as the musculoskeletal system, the neurological system, the immune system, digestive system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, and others all boil down to three main aspects of physiological health, (1) the structural side of health, including; muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, etc., (2) the chemical side of health, which includes; diet, digestion, medications, pollution, etc., and (3) the mental side of health. This side often involves biologic, metabolic and physiologic aspects with mental health, in addition to the emotional stress placed upon us day to day. These three sides of health make up what is commonly called the “triad of health”. This triad, as represented by an equilateral triangle, shows how one side is as equally important as the other two sides, to “shore-up” or support the rest of the triangle. If one side is lacking, or in dysfunction, the other two sides have to compensate for the incapability of the first, and that compensation can cause an over stressing of those other two sides. For example, if someone is eating well, but has a malabsorption disorder, he won’t be able to absorb and assimilate the nutrients his body requires. They may subsequently experience early muscle fatigue upon exertion. This individual may also undergo a slowing of thought and reflex processes associated with neurologic “confusion”, all because of a decrease in the absorption of energy nutrients to the body and brain.
Conversely, a person who is emotionally distraught can literally create a situation where he throws his digestive and muscular systems into disarray by his thoughts alone. We’ve all experienced the situation where, when frightened, we certainly don’t feel like eating, and our legs feel like they’re going to buckle under from being “weak-kneed”. This phenomenon can also be present in a long-term situation where something may be bothering us for days or weeks at a time. Prolonged emotional stress can actually overburden our ability to handle that stress. This can be the beginning of a vicious cycle downward toward physiological problems, possibly developing into a pathologic disease. Finally, if the third side of the triangle, the structural side, is impaired, resulting in muscular aches and pains, these aches and pains can neurologically disrupt the functioning of our conscious and subconscious thought processes, as well as interrupting the mechanisms of our glands, organs and viscera.
How on earth can we get all these systems to work together in mutual support? The first line of attack, and the most important part of health as well, is self-help and responsibility. The old stand-by’s of getting enough sleep, eating a proper diet, getting an adequate amount of exercise, and keeping our daily stresses in check are vitally important. People can improve their health dramatically simply by taking charge of their well being. This kind of undertaking can be very difficult to do, but the rewards of good health far outweigh the hardships of changing personal lifestyle habits. For those conditions that linger on inappropriately, consider an evaluation with your health care professional to help in reestablishing a balanced “triad of health”. (Athletic Performance – Part III next week.)
(Dr. Richard Hanson, chiropractor in Jamestown, New York, can be reached at (716)664-0445. Most major insurances are now being accepted.)