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The Most Important Word You've Never Heard

August 17, 2020

The American medical system is often characterized as a system of health care, but in spite of its advantages and advancements, most critical observers acknowledge that it’s actually more of a “sick care” system. Pathogenesis is a term coined to describe a focus on disease, illness, and treatment as a means of maintaining the health of a population.

But in the last three decades, some groundbreaking research suggests we may be taking a very backwards view of our healthcare. The concept of salutogenesis, an approach that seeks to promote and maintain physical and mental well-being, has emerged to counter the predominant, risk-based model of care.

Interestingly, this overlaps with chiropractic philosophy in a number of important ways:

  1. Chiropractic care begins with the assumption that the body’s natural state is one of wellness, and that different types of stresses can upset that balance.
  2. Chiropractic care champions maintenance of your body’s optimal function as an important preventive measure.
  3. Chiropractic can be ultimately viewed as a lifestyle to maintain wellness, not just to manage symptoms of disease.

So what are the main types of stress that determine how disease develops, according to the salutogenesis model as well as the chiropractic model of healthcare?

Physical Stress

Poor spinal alignment, repetitive stress from work, lack of physical fitness, chronic pain, excessive time spent driving, bad posture, and many other stresses on the body can lead to a cascade of complications, including emotional and mental distress. Interventions such as yoga, light exercise, regular stretching exercises, chiropractic adjustments, and massage therapy are some effective forms of intervention for reducing common physical stresses.

Emotional Stress

Many Americans are burdened by financial worries, the pressure of caring for dependents, difficulties in the home, or disorders that affect moods or brain chemistry. While there are plenty of emotional stresses that can’t be eliminated by purely physical interventions, any measure that improves physical health will bolster a person’s ability to cope with these other types of stresses. Meditation, daily prayer sessions, or even getting more sunshine are also practices that have proven to be beneficial in decreasing levels of emotional stress.

Chemical Stress

Unfortunately, the average American is surrounded by environmental toxins and tends to survive on a highly-processed diet, both of which have been demonstrated to have a strongly negative impact on overall health. As the health-related burden of these chemical stressors begins to affect various systems in the body, many people turn to medications to treat organ dysfunction--medications which can lead to far-reaching and sometimes overwhelming side effects. The idea of avoiding these chemical stresses can sometimes seem like an exercise in futility, but with a little research and effort most people can reduce their toxic burden significantly. Simply following a diet based primarily on healthy, whole foods can provide a highly effective boost to your overall health, which can make tackling a few other challenges seem less intimidating.

We often associate the image of dominoes falling as a representation of a series of negative events, but it can just as easily be viewed as a positive: One healthy habit formed can naturally lead to another, turning the concept of salutogenesis from an idea into a reality.  

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