Bare Bones Biology 220 – Healthy Living

Last evening, I was puttering around, thinking about healthy living. You know, the three of us have started a healthy living project (https://factfictionfancy.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/). The phone rang. It was my nearest neighbor. Her car stopped working, someone gave her a ride to the top of the canyon, and there she was, stuck and alone, three and a half miles away. Walking home for three miles in the deep, dark bottom of the canyon, with only half a moon rising and no defense bigger than a stick. It may not be unhealthy, but it feels like it. Being eaten by a bear, is that really what the word means? Unhealthy? Or is it just bad luck?

1408113-canyon_gardenASC_0821RLss copyThe Oxford American dictionary gives the definition of healthy as: “Having or showing or producing good health.” The thesaurus on my computer is a little more specific, and answers the necessary next question: “What is health?” by saying: “The general condition of something in terms of soundness, vitality and proper functioning.”

I like functional definitions, because they can usually be tested. For example, if your kidney is not functioning properly, that very fact suggests a method to determine the cause of the problem. But that would be unhealthy. You might know you are unhealthy because you feel bad. It’s not so easy to recognize how good a healthy person can feel, and use that good feeling to maintain vital, living health. Some people “feel bad” and don’t even know it. They think it is normal.

The problem of how to stay healthy has increased enormously in the past 20 or 30 years. The culture I was born into studied biology in hopes of improving the human condition. The so-called “greatest generation” genuinely cared about human welfare. On the contrary, the prime directive of the newly evolved corposystem is the bottom line, and so it uses the word healthy primarily to get us to buy stuff. Or to believe whatever it wants us to believe. So the words no longer mean what they mean. That’s why I’m taking all this time to define the words healthy and health before we continue with our Healthy Living project.

Health is the general condition of something in terms of soundness, vitality and proper functioning. Healthy refers to something that is sound, vital and functioning properly.

140904-canyon-ASC_1128RLSss copyIs that you? Is it me? Is it my sunflower that I planted earlier this year? The community that provides our sewage disposal and clean water and food? Is it the trees on the side of our mountain? Is it perhaps the entire mountain ecosystem? Is it the whole living earth? Is the earth functioning properly? Proper for what? For whom? Who says what is proper? Surely not the drug companies.

The dictionary says that healthy is lacking disease. Is that just me, living with the bears so that I can avoid the bad-air sickness that now covers most of our country, causing “epidemics” of asthma, alzheimers, cancers of various kinds? Does healthy only apply to humans? Or also to horses and dogs and cats and bears and trees and corn, and even kidneys and ecosystems and cells? I guess so. I guess anything that can die can be unhealthy. And we all know that disease is not the only cause of disease. For example, goiter can be caused by a mineral deficiency, and obesity is a proven cause of ill health because it unbalances so many interactions within our physiology that must function properly to continually balance our physiology at the point of health, as we meet the physical and emotional challenges of our environment.

So it’s not so simple to maintain health, is it? But I think we can agree about the definition, and I think we can use the definition, in coming weeks, to define the questions we need to think about if we want to be healthy. Healthy for whom, and why, and how?

This is Bare Bones Biology a product of FactFictionFancy.Wordpress.com and KEOS radio 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas.

A podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: