“Health” has certainly been a hot topic over the past 13 months. However, it is not such an easy thing to define. Asking ten people to explain a healthy person would probably lead to ten quite different answers. I like to define health as “the body’s ability to successfully adapt to stress”. Stressors come in physical, mental-emotional, and biochemical forms. I think of these as the “3 Ts” of stress – Traumas, Thoughts, and Toxins.
Traumatic stress includes both macro- and micro-traumas. Macro-traumas are major events such as car accidents, sports injuries, or slips and falls. Micro-traumas include daily physical stressors such as repetitive movements, work requirements, and posture imbalances. Traumatic stress has an impact on our physical health and can lead to overuse injuries, muscle imbalances, and degenerative changes. As a Doctor of Chiropractic, traumatic stress-related conditions are what I see and treat daily.
Thoughts refer to the mental-emotional side of stress, including worry, fear, anxiety, and depression. Mental-emotional stress has an impact both the mind and the body. While we are under this type of stress, our bodies may instinctively flip into fight-or-flight mode. Fight-or-flight is an instinctual coping mechanism to keep us alive in times of danger. However, when under long-term mental-emotional stress, prolonged fight-or-flight systems can lead to physical side effects such as high blood pressure, decreased gut health, and weight gain.
Toxins are the third “T” of stress, and this refers to the unseen, unfelt biochemical stressors that may enter our bodies. These include the foreign substances found in the foods we eat and in the environment we live. Last year we saw a novel virus emerge and shock the world, adding to the list of toxins and infectious agents our bodies must be prepared to fight. If left untreated, biochemical toxins can lead to a wide range of health conditions, from attacks on organ systems to increasing systemic inflammation, which we know is a leading cause of many chronic diseases.
A healthy person will be able to successfully adapt to each form of stress it encounters. I say successfully adapt to because we live in world where traumas, thoughts, and toxins are unavoidable. Living a lifestyle with proper diet, exercise, and mindfulness is a great start towards maintaining health. Don’t let stress prevent a healthy 2021!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Alex Ognibene