Health Is Holistic: Look at the Bigger Picture

How good are you at playing Sherlock when you have a health problem, something like a headache, an upset stomach, or a fever? Can you usually tell what the trigger is? Do you care about the root cause at all or are you a more “Put out the fire for now” kind of person and go straight for the symptoms?

Pinpointing the Cause

On some level, we are all closely in tune with our bodies. We are capable of tracing the little discomforts we feel to something we must have done during the day, something we overdid, did wrong, or did differently. We know what to blame – if not the exact cause, our guesses are pretty darn close.

Think about it. When you have trouble falling asleep, what are you most likely to pinpoint as the cause? You may say too much screen time, a late start to the day, a heavy dinner, too much caffeine, or racing thoughts. These are the more well-known triggers. You could be right.

There is a possibility, however, that the cause is entirely different and you are completely thrown off course – just because you couldn’t think of it. Would it strike you that maybe you didn’t exercise enough that day and so wasn’t tired enough to fall asleep? Or perhaps it was your nightcap that stole your z’s? Would it occur to you that your weekend sleep schedule was upsetting your body’s circadian rhythm or that an overactive thyroid gland was making you restless?

Our point is: the body systems, the core functions, are way too interconnected and interdependent for you to always be able to make the right associations.

Consider a blood sample. It has blood cells, hormones, oxygen, carbon dioxide, immune cells, toxins, antibodies, vitamins, minerals, and glucose – all of these elements from different body systems. That’s proof of the extent to which conversations are going on between your different body parts.

By consequence, a health glitch in one part is bound to affect other parts as well. Are you going to leave those unaddressed?

If your kidneys aren’t doing a good job of removing toxins from your liver, your liver is going to become a toxin storehouse, undergo damage, and give you chronic fatigue. While you try and correct your kidney function, you must also support your liver to withstand and overcome the backlash.

Here are some other interesting core function relationships that may surprise you:

  • Sleep and immunity: Sleep better and you will fall sick less often. Sleep increases the production of immune T cells in the body so that you’re better at fighting off disease.
  • Digestion and bones: Digest your food well and your bones will get stronger. There’s no point eating nutritious food if your body can’t make use of the nutrients in them. Some of these nutrients are building blocks for your bones.
  • Immunity and brain function: Strengthen your immunity and your memory will improve. Microglial cells of the immune system play a role in generating nerve cells in your brain’s memory center, the hippocampus.

The Better Approach

To enjoy a quality of health you can sustain, the better approach is to err on the side of caution and keep all your core functions in balance. They can take care of each other and internally make up for any imbalances in one or the other. This approach works because that’s exactly how the body works – no divides, no separation of body and mind, and no obsession with organ system microcosms.

So when you have an upset stomach, do what you need to immediately do to support your digestion and normalize your stools, like avoiding spicy food and having more fiber. At the same time, make sure you’re supporting your other core functions as well like immunity, brain function, and your bones. Infections and stress, too, can cause an upset stomach while your bones will bear the brunt of poorly digested food.

The body is complicated. Instead of trying to oversimplify your understanding of how it works, simplify your approach to healthy living. Do right by all your core functions and always bear in mind the bigger picture.

Take a look at each of the following core functions and find out what you need to do to stay in balance.

Bones and Joints | Brain Function | Digestion | Metabolism | Immunity | Sleep