Sustainability – the term has spread rapidly throughout our current culture. Most of us know what this means, or at least, we think we do. It is difficult to not watch TV or read a magazine without the term coming up in some form. Sustainable farming, sustainable living, sustainable economies…and the list continues.
Most of us would agree that at its simplest, sustainability is about preserving resources and using all existing resources as efficiently as possible. Yet do we preserve our own personal resources and use them efficiently? Do we guard our health and wellness with the same concern that we have for the environment or for agriculture?
It has been my experience that the concept of sustainability has not been attached to health in any clear way. I, like many people I know, wake up in a rush, grab my breakfast to go, forget to eat lunch, barely make it home for dinner and then manage to stuff something in my mouth to prevent myself from passing out. I know my husband does the same, if not worse, and instead of choosing starvation, as I often do, will indulge in an outside meal of gargantuan portions, excess salt and calories. This cannot be sustainable.
I watch my children choose high sugar snacks when not in my sight and ask for Coke and chips. I then watch their erratic behavior after consuming these snacks and realize that with my knowledge I know the trigger but what do other parents do? Do they seek out medications that may not be sustainable?
In the world of Integrative Medicine, we spend a lot of time trying to understand the triggers behind disease and to deal with these triggers proactively rather than reactively. In many ways, integrative medicine is sustainable medicine, since it leads us all to evaluate our lifestyles and decisions which ultimately lead to wastefulness and disease.
Rather than rush around, if we all slowed down a bit, then obesity would not be the national epidemic that it is now. If we took time to think and then prepare meals, we would not be victims of the food choices offered at restaurants and fast food chains. We may not then need the statins, the bypass surgeries, the fancy gyms and personal trainers.
If women slept through the night, would they need antidepressants and anxiety medications? Would they have the inflammation that leads to hormonal dysregulation and to cancer?
I don’t have all the answers but I do know that if we are going to have a discussion on sustainability, then it has to begin with our health. Using an Integrative Medicine approach, we can create sustainable health, finding the areas that drain our own spiritual, mental and physical resources. Once we all have a handle on this, then we would not buy excessively, live excessively, or eat foods that we know our systems cannot handle.
It is sustainable health that will ultimately bring about sustainable living and eventually a sustainable economy. I hope to continue helping myself and my patients find their path to sustainable health, indirectly contributing to our collective health.
Categories: Holistic Health