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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Loving the disease that's keeping you healthy

Saturday, October 07, 2017
Twenty years ago a certain book was first published with a title designed to get your attention – and maybe make you a little bit angry too: “Love Your Disease, It’s Keeping You Healthy”. I confess to feeling more than a little irritated myself: It smacked of an unhelpful “you brought this upon yourself” attitude. Did this title annoy you as well?  Surely the author isn’t suggesting that being unwell is a good thing? 

But I read it, and eventually the title made sense. Then over the last decade or so of clinical practice I began to see where he was coming from. Today I’d like to share with you why this medical doctor author might just be correct about the connection between disease and health.

Virtually all of us have at least one health challenge to manage. Perhaps there’s some part of you that’s never worked completely because you were born that way. Maybe something went awry with your mental health or hormones in adolescence. Possibly a series of health challenges have seemingly just descended on you out of nowhere. Maybe an accidental injury has changed your life. Maybe you’ve been able to avoid any health challenges.  But sooner or later, most of us get at least one. 

Having a health issue, injury or disability to manage, especially the chronic variety, often means you have to take extra actions as preventative maintenance. Like, for example, a daily stretching routine to help you minimise your pain and maximise mobility. Or maybe you have to include or avoid certain foods to keep your digestion content. Perhaps ensuring you get enough sleep and meditate daily so your brain supports your mood and mental health better. Funny thing is - stretching, eating well, meditating and sleeping enough are great health boosters on their own.

If you were one hundred per cent healthy and functional you might regard these activities as optional extras in life. But then you might not do them at all, feeling you could get away with those unhealthy practices. But because your particular health challenge forces you to eat well, manage your movement and coddle your brain, for you these health practices have become compulsory.

Was this what the author, Dr Harrison was trying to communicate?  He’s recently re-released the book, plus two other books, one focussed on smoking. Maybe you’d enjoy reading them too – if you can get past the unfortunate titles.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy 'What's different about functional medicine' 



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