Are We Healthy?

July 28, 2015 at 6:08 pm (By Realpc)

The human lifespan increased dramatically over the past hundred years, and it continues to increase. Those of us lucky enough to live in the advanced countries are living longer, on average, than people ever have, anywhere.

Obviously we are healthier than ever (or we wouldn’t be living so long), and obviously it is thanks to modern medicine and science.

Therefore, when people complain about the “evil” drug companies, or the giant agricultural companies that poison all our food, or the environment that is full of toxic unnatural substances — well, obviously they are completely out of touch with reality.

The reality is that none of that really matters, since health is improving and will continue to improve. Soon it will be possible to live to 150, 200, even indefinitely.

OR MAYBE NOT.

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14 Comments

  1. amba12 said,

    Actually it doesn’t seem like the human lifespan has increased that much, if at all; it’s just that more people reach it, some in terrible shape, medically propped up. Also we have a new plague, cancer. When a friend born in 1947 comes back from her 50th high school reunion and reports that at least a fifth of her class is already dead, it doesn’t seem like quite such a triumph. I think nature’s immune system, in the form of mutant viruses and the like, is trying to reduce our numbers, which have burgeoned out of proportion to the “carrying capacity” of the environment.

  2. realpc920 said,

    amba,

    Actually my post was just a summary of the marketing PR we have been hearing from the big drug and medical companies. Many people believe it though, even many doctors and scientists.

    However, as you noted, it is not at all true.

    The average human lifespan has increased dramatically, but the increase is almost entirely because infant mortality was eradicated, mostly because of antibiotics.

    There are some other factors also, but the main one is antibiotics in mid 20th century.

    If you do not count infant mortality, then human lifespan has not increased much, if at all.

    It also depends on what you compare to what. You can compare here and now to an early industrial society 200 years ago, when cities were filthy, or you can compare here and now to primitive or traditional societies with clean air, food and water.

    It is a fact that infants and children often died, before antibiotics and vaccines. That was very sad for their parents, of course, but it was one of nature’s mechanisms for protecting the species as a whole.

    Consider how the egg gets fertilized — millions (billions?) of sperm compete to be the first. All the rest die. This helps to ensure that the baby will be healthy.

    And then the baby has to overcome all the obstacles of childhood, while its immune system is not yet strong.

    So now — hurray — we practically all survive childhood. That is good for us as individuals, bad for the species overall.

    amba, as you noted, all we have to do is look around and see that illness is rampant. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergies, autism, autoimmune disorders, mental illness, are everywhere.

    The big drug and medical companies and their faithful followers will tell you this is only because we are living longer because of medical advances. In the past, everyone died so young they never had a chance to get chronic diseases.

    Total BS.

    I think that many of our current health problems result from the toxic food, air and water, and the many toxic unnatural substances we are all exposed to.

  3. LouiseM said,

    The kitties looked up when I reached the “Total BS” part, as the large sigh that came from me at that point wakened them from their naps to do a visual check in order to assess eminent danger before going back to their business, which mostly involves keeping themselves fed, rested, entertained and safe.

    Are they healthy? Am I healthy? What the heck is health? Where oh where does a person start when an “Are We Healthy?” post shows up? Especially one as confusing as this one, which first appears to be a set up of statements presented as truth by someone who doesn’t believe them to be true, or possibly an expression of sarcasm by someone who claims not do sarcasm.

    I find it unsettling when what’s presented as obvious is not only not obvious to me, it’s also not obvious as to who is declaring what may or may not be obvious to others as obvious.

    So where does my mind go when a puzzle like this appears? Back to the initial question, “Are We Healthy?” with the immediate follow up being, “What is health? What does it mean? Where does it come from?”

    Etemology traces the word “Health” back to the Old English hælþ “wholeness, a being whole, sound or well,” from Proto-Germanic *hailitho, from PIE *kailo- “whole, uninjured, of good omen” (cognates: Old English hal “hale, whole;” Old Norse heill “healthy;” Old English halig, Old Norse helge “holy, sacred;” Old English hælan “to heal”). With Proto-Germanic abstract noun suffix *-itho (see -th (2)). Of physical health in Middle English, but also “prosperity, happiness, welfare; preservation, safety.” An abstract noun to whole, not to heal.

    Which causes me to wonder if the healthy answer to the “Are We Healthy?” question might be: Some more than others?

    In looking up info on Augustine last week, I was surprised to discover he’d lived to be 75 years old, from 354 AD to 430 AD. And Ol’ See-God’s-Back-and-Live-Moses was reported to have been 120 when he died, “with his eyes undimmed and his vigor unabated”. Maybe there’s more to health and wholeness than meets the eye.

  4. realpc920 said,

    And as these deadly and/or disabling diseases seem to be increasing, mainstream (non-holistic) medicine isn’t much help.

    Our modern mainstream medicine has advanced technology for diagnostics and surgery. It has more information about biology and chemistry than any previous medical system. Mainstream medicine can be great if you need surgery, antibiotics or painkillers.

    However, for chronic diseases it is almost useless. If someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis, for example, no attempt is made to determine the cause or restore health. The patient is given immune suppressing drugs, such as steroids, which decrease inflammation and therefore lessen the symptoms. Rather than healing the immune system, these drugs are toxic and damaging.

    Chronic inflammation seems to be the common theme in most of the common chronic diseases. Sometimes the disease is treated with drugs that decrease inflammation (as in rheumatoid arthritis). But sometimes the inflammatory aspect is completely ignored.

    For example, mental illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, maybe schizophrenia, may often be caused or worsened by chronic inflammation. But they are treated with drugs that dull symptoms.

    Cancer and heart disease are also often the result of chronic inflammation.

    Instead of trying to understand chronic inflammation, what causes it and how it might be cured, mainstream medicine either ignores it or tries to suppress it artificially.

    Holistic medicine, on the other hand, does have theories about what causes chronic inflammation and ideas about how to cure it. Not that holistic medicine has miracle cures or easy answers. But at least they are interested in finding causes and restoring health.

    But mainstream medicine gets most of the research funding, thanks to the wonderful Big Drug companies.

    But holistic ideas do sometimes slowly become accepted by the mainstream. The importance of chronic inflammation, and how it can be related to the digestive system, is beginning to be recognized, maybe, very slowly.

    Big money is only poured into things the Big Drug companies can make a fortune on, so the process is very slow.

    Anyway, more reasons why Americans are so unhealthy overall, even though most seem to believe the BS that we are healthier than ever.

    One thing can always be counted on — the typical American’s complete ignorance of statistics. Yes the average lifespan has increased, but that doesn’t mean what you think it means. As I hope I have explained.

  5. realpc920 said,

    And another thing I think is worth mentioning:

    Mainstream medicine is not overly concerned about the fact that it can’t do much about chronic diseases except treat the symptoms. That is because mainstream MDs generally believe that these diseases are caused by genetics and/or the natural aging process. So there isn’t much hope of curing them anyway.

    And what about all the diseases that mainstream doctors don’t seem to be able to diagnose, let alone cure? Don’t worry about that! They have that one all figured out. If they can’t diagnose you it’s because your symptoms are imaginary. That’s right, you are a hypochondriac. Maybe you are even insane and in need of psychiatric treatment (mind-dulling drugs, in other words).

    Yes there is a lot to praise about modern medicine, but there is an awful lot that needs to be criticized also. Once you accept that we are NOT healthier, just the opposite in fact, then you may have to recognize that we have some very serious problems.

    And another thing I forgot to emphasize — where is all this chronic inflammation coming from? Mostly, I think (as does anyone involved in holistic medicine), it results from our increasing exposure to toxic and artificial substances.

  6. LouiseM said,

    The out of the box doc at the Wellness Clinic I went to last year when I didn’t know where else to turn, was on target when she told me to cut gluten, milk, potatoes and tomatoes from my diet if I wanted to address my digestive difficulties along with the inflammation I was experiencing. Although our insurance wouldn’t cover my appointment with her, I was able to use the tax free money we’d put into our Health Savings account and am glad I went as I appreciate the results.

    I draw the line, however, at following through on her notion that it is better to remove all teeth that would require a root canal or have been previously preserved with one. I also haven’t tried my free turn on her jiggling machine that is supposed to help with weight loss. I’m not at a place where I feel I need to try those options. I do however, appreciate her storehouse of knowledge, wisdom and opinions, along with the availability of alternative options and treatments.

    Modern mainstream medicine has saved my life and also compromised it. Following an experience ten years ago with Steven-Johnson Syndrome in reaction to an expensive prescription drug hatched up by one of the “wonderful Big Drug companies” (sarcasm?) with another drug from them serving as the wonderful antidote, I began to search for alternative solutions to some of my health issues. Thankfully, the internet, books, and recommendations of others, along with the availability of a variety of non-mainstream approaches including acupuncture have provided me with enough information, contacts and treatments to maintain and realize health in a way that works for me.

    And that’s the bottom line.

  7. realpc920 said,

    Modern science and medicine have become increasingly materialist. In the mid 20th century, biologists concluded that life began and evolved by a random haphazard process. Life can be explained without any spiritual or supernatural causes. Or so they think.

    If the creation of life and species is unguided, then living things have not really been designed. Therefore, we would expect our DNA to be a real mess and full of errors.

    That is what medical science seems to expect these days. Whatever may be wrong with you, your DNA will probably be blamed, at least partially.

    At the same time, we have the mistaken belief that our primitive ancestors seldom lived more than 30 or 40 years. If that were true (and it isn’t), and if our long lives are the result of modern medicine (they aren’t), then it would not be surprising that our bodies start to wear out in middle age.

    As I explained already, the idea that modern medicine has prolonged our lives is not true. Maybe a little truthy, but not really true.

    And, as I have said before in other posts, the idea that life was created by a long series of accidents is just a silly myth. Yes, there is natural selection and survival of the fittest, but it did not create life or new species!

    So, starting with these two false beliefs, we wound up with a medical industry that can seldom help us unless we need antibiotics or surgery.

    So if we get a chronic disease we must resort to Dr. Google. And of course there are holistic doctors but they are a minority and not usually covered by insurance. They also don’t have enough of the kind of funding that could help holistic medicine advance.

  8. LouiseM said,

    So, starting with these two false beliefs, we wound up with a medical industry that can seldom help us unless we need antibiotics or surgery.

    I”m not convinced the current state of the medical industry started with or is the result of those two beliefs, false or otherwise.

    Regardless of how many toxins are present and causing trouble nowadays, or how we believe the world to be ordered, rotten teeth have ached, poison ivy rash has itched, sepsis has tended to lead to death and broken limbs when moved have prompted involuntary screams of pain. Childbirth has also not been without life threatening difficulties and complications.

    Humans appear to me to be motivated by a strong desire to avoid pain and/or seek relief from suffering and discomfort. To the point of being willing to trade everything up to their souls to save their own lives and the lives of those in their care. Through out recorded history humans have also revealed a persistent inclination to seek and accumulate power in order to control outcome and others, and in doing so reduce personal pain and fear, and enhance their own experiences of worth, comfort and pleasure. Survival instinct along with a strong will to live and take care of oneself, one’s loved ones and others who provide food, labor, protection, heirs, and companionship also factor in to the development of medical devises and techniques, along with the use of natural materials and man made products in the form of potions, powders, infusions and injections to promote healing and health. Need was met with a response, and the current medical industry started with the human desire to creatively and knowledgeably attend to those needs, with pain relief and life extension as the predominant result.

    My mother, at 94 and both my in-laws at 85 are alive today due to the surgeries, medications and treatments they’ve received through the mainstream medical system. My life too, was saved not once but twice through emergency surgeries, and the lives of both our children, one with collapsed lungs and the other with an orbital eye infection about to cross the brain barrier, were also spared through the use of modern medical techniques and medications. This is the reality of the statistics I live with on a daily basis.

    Although an life-threatening reaction to a mainstream medication sent me outside the conventional system to address my current health issues , I remain grateful for the life and healing I’ve realized through the discoveries of the modern medical community. I imagine others who haven’t realized or considered adverse side effects from whatever life saving or pain relieving treatment they’ve received through modern medicine might feel similarly grateful.

  9. realpc920 said,

    You did an excellent job of missing the whole point LouiseM.

  10. LouiseM said,

    Imagine that!

  11. realpc920 said,

    It’s your special talent.

  12. LouiseM said,

    Imagination is more than a special talent!

    Imagination is quite possibly a uniquely human ability. In essence, it allows us to explore ideas of things that are not in our present environment, or perhaps not even real.
    J Davies, The Science of Imagination

    It’s one of the abilities you and I share in common along with all who read these posts and threads, realpc920.

  13. LouiseM said,

    While I often have difficulty finding your point, realpc920, I can consistently find something in your writing that sparks additional thoughts on my end, and how good is that? Doing so constitutes some form of connection, one I am consistently grateful for as that spark prompts more searching, more finding, more clarifying on my end, enough to allow me to consider your posts a gift.

    I’m still marveling at finding mention of the three additional elements of hope, inspiration and personal triumph to accompany and balance defiance. Since then I’ve enjoyed two dynamic conversations with others regarding defiance and the additional elements. Yesterday, a third and fourth conversation (with my sons) about what personal triumph involves also transpired. Which means something received through your post has moved out to bless and prompt thoughts in others who’ve no idea who you are or what your main point might have been, yet value what they received even if that was not your initial intention or hope.

    I’m leaving tomorrow to attend an icon painting workshop and retreat. Since icons were considered a form of idol worship in the religious community of my youth, I will be going against (or moving beyond, around, through?) early ingrained teaching to engage in creating this form of expression and invitation to contemplation. I feel excitement and curiousity and along with some anxiety and trepidation about doing so, as I will also be staying in Catholic religious community and the part of me that is defiant about dogma is wondering how this will all work out.

    I go with one of my favorite admonitions of Jesus in mind, one that has stayed with me through rigidity, darkness, doubt and despair as something I can do when all else fails or appears unavailable:

    Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.…”

    Maybe I’ll to catch a glimpse of the back of something mysterious, glorious and good. Or I might find, as I do here, another puzzle to solve or another piece of the puzzle I’m currently putting together.

  14. realpc920 said,

    “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.…”

    That is one of my favorite things in the bible also LouiseM. That and the 23rd psalm help me get through the ordeals of this life.

    I am an artist also, by the way, or was until I had to start making money 30 years ago. Now my hobby is music, which is another way to be creative and worship God.

    I am glad you get something out of my posts, even if not the main point. Maybe I need to get better at expressing my ideas. I have no shortage of ideas, but limited time for expressing them.

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