June 2014

Health Goals

School is out.  We are approaching Summer officially this Saturday and Winter is more and more like a distant memory.  One thing that you may remember doing during the Winter (besides shoveling) was reviewing goals.  We tend to review our past and then plan our future, at a time like New Years.  Here we are in June and about half way through the year.

What were your goals this year?

What are your priorities and are you moving towards them?

One common goal and high priority for many of us is health.  Everyone wants to be healthy and maybe even healthier.  

How do we get there?  

How do we achieve this goal?

To complicate matters we live in a society and culture that can often promote unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors.  Also there seems to be confusion about what even counts as healthy.  Additionally, new research comes out and previous health recommendations are scrapped and new ones are made.  For example, a recent issue of Time Magazine states that we should eat more butter, as scientists have been wrong about their thinking when it comes to fat.  The changes we experience and hear about in various health related topics from medicines, prevention and treatment of disease, to diets, to environmental pollutants, foods and cooking styles, exercises, sleep suggestions, supplements, books by experts, and more, leave us with competing and changing opinions and recommendations, that can seem almost dizzying.  One thing we can say for certain is that we clearly do not have all the answers in those areas.

What do we need for health?
Proper diet, rest, exercise, what we think about/attitude, our relationship with God, these things are important aspects to our health.  Another big health component is your genetics, so it is critical to choose your parents and grandparents wisely when planning your health. :) Of course for most of us we have to play the cards we were dealt, genetically.  The good news though is studies in the emerging field of epigenetics is telling us that genetics are not the be-all end-all component, but they do give us a range or framework to work within.


So, what is health?
According to the World Health Organization, health is complete physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual well-being, and not merely the absence of symptoms or disease.  Did you pick up on the last part?  Our society tends to convey the message that if you have no symptoms (or are able to reduce them enough) you are healthy.  I know from having talked to thousands of people over the last 15 years as a chiropractor, this is what most people believe.  “If I feel fine I am healthy” is a very common belief.  But it is not necessarily true; health is really more than having no symptoms.  The only people who truly never have to worry about any symptoms can be found buried at the cemetery. 


The definition of health that I prefer is normal function and the ability to successfully ADAPT to the average stresses of your daily life.  It is due to the harmonious function of all the organs of the body under the masterful direction of the brain.  It is the natural result of the adequate expression of the forces created by the innate intelligence in your body.  Health is having your body work optimally.  Very simply, health is balance, harmony and EASE. 

How does chiropractic improve health?
The chiropractor will check your spine for vertebral subluxations (misalignments of spinal bones that interfere with the nerve system) that can occur when the body cannot resist the stresses of everyday life.  We cannot feel subluxations when they occur in our spine and they rarely have associated symptoms.  If found, the chiropractor will assist in the correction of subluxations with an adjustment. 


Your body already knows how to express life and health, and through chiropractic adjustments an interference to this expression of life and health is removed.  The result is the function of the nerve system is restored and the brain is better able to communicate and control all parts of the body and the body works better.  This leaves you in a state of greater health and moving towards your goals and priorities.  In short, LIFE improves.  If you want to experience more health and have not been in recently stop by to get your spine checked.

~Thank you Dr. Jason Meyerson for the inspiration.

I desired to know why one person was ailing and his associate, eating at the same table, working in the same shop, at the same bench was not.  Why?  What difference was there in these two persons that caused one to have various diseases, while his partner escaped?
~D.D. Palmer, Discoverer of Chiropractic

Mother Theresa stated that she would not participate in a march against war but would participate if the march were for peace. Such a march would not only empower people to end war, but also help them move toward peace.  In her view, the process of creating peace was different than merely ending war.


Salutogenesis is a term first used by Aaron Antonovsky, a professor of medical sociology. The term describes an approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease.  Salutogenesis starts by considering health and looks prospectively at how to create, enhance, and improve physical, mental, and social well-being.

Salutogenesis is in contrast to pathogenesis which is the study of disease origins and causes.  Pathogenesis starts by considering disease and infirmity and then works retrospectively to determine how individuals can avoid, manage, and/or eliminate that disease or infirmity.  Pathogenesis is the approach our current medical model of health care in this country uses.

Here’s a chart comparing and contrasting pathogenesis and salutogenesis.


  Pathogenesis Salutogenesis
Starting point Disease or Problem Health Potential
Goal Prevention and Early Detection Maximize the Expression of Health Potential
Works to Eliminate Risk Factors Create Health Factors
Perspective Treat Disease Obtain Health
Focus Prevent Pain or Loss, Keep from Making Situation Worse, Minimization of Problems    Promote Gains or Growth, Continuous Improvement, Optimization of Potential
Motive Fear Empowerment
Delivery/Temporal Profile Event/Episodic Process/Lifetime
Outcome Absence of Problem Presence of Gain
-active Re-active - react to signs, symptoms, and indications of disease
Pro-active - create conditions of physical, mental, and
social well-being
Practitioner Role Dominant Partner/Coach

Acceptance of the pathogenic model of health by most traditional health professionals has dictated that disease prevention, treatment, and/or management are the paths to better health. Just as common sense tells us that the absence of bad behavior does not indicate the presence of good behavior, research consistently has demonstrated that simply decreasing a negative state does not necessarily increase positive states.


Health is similar since its presence requires more than just the absence of disease or related risk factors.  While I had never heard of this term until a few years ago, the concepts and ideas related to salutogenesis are some of the factors that drew me to chiropractic.

During times of great epidemics and plagues most people survived (even without any health care intervention), which is why we are all here.  I always wondered why instead of looking at those who have succumbed to a health issue/problem we never looked at those that didn’t have it so that we could maybe see what they were doing that kept them well.  Why was the focus and research never on those that were doing things right?

While I think both pathogenesis and salutogenesis are both necessary and important, I can’t help but think that if we focused on what makes people healthy, the need for treating disease will be greatly decreased.  In fact, when people saw a chiropractor even as sporadically as once a month, some of the results they received included:

  • 60.2% Decrease in hospital admissions
  • 59% decrease in hospital days
  • 62.0% decrease in outpatient surgeries
  • 85% decrease in pharmaceutical costs


Imagine just the health care cost savings if more people utilized chiropractic and used it properly.  Now imagine the amazing benefits they would receive and how much more enjoyable life and our community would be. 

I am very thankful that chiropractic falls under the category of salutogenesis.  It is both awesome and humbling to know that what I do is probably the most important thing that can contribute to increasing a person's health potential.  If they aren't already, make your loved ones get to experience chiropractic.   


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