The trillions of cells that make up the body don’t give a shit if you are happy and joyful, or dissatisfied and angry. They only know biochemistry, nothing else. The fact is that in regard to health, biochemistry is everything, and everything is in the biochemistry. This means that absolutely everything in the body is defined and determined by the biochemistry, and that everything we eat, drink and do, but also everything we think, feel and believe, defines and determines the biochemistry of the body.
There is no doubt that any negative stressor, including and maybe especially the various states of dissatisfaction and unhappiness most of us cycle through each day, are truly poisonous to our health. But no matter how complex the details of this may seem, no matter how much or how little of it we understand or realise, the imbalances caused by every negative stressor will be seen clearly in the biochemical tracers that can be tested for and measured. And it is those tracers together with every other bioactive molecule that define and determine all cellular functions and interactions on which depends health or disease. For example, morning cortisol levels above 10 micrograms/dl most probably means too much stress on a daily basis, independently of its causes, and cortisol levels below 5 most likely means adrenal fatigue from chronic stress over an extended period of time, also independently of what has caused this. These observations have nothing to do with how you feel about it, and the stress hormones secreted by the adrenal glands do not know what you think or feel or believe about anything at all; they just respond to the biochemical conditions in the body.
If you are chronically stressed, unhappy and generally feeling shitty, it is certain that your biochemistry is not in balance, that as a result of this your health suffers, and that you absolutely need to do something to change and improve your situation. If, on the other hand, you are feeling happy and enthusiastic, and everything seems perfectly fine, this does not imply that your biochemistry is in balance, and it certainly does not imply that it is optimal. This is obvious considering that more or less everyone in western countries dies between 65 and 85 of heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. I’m sure you’ll agree that it would be silly to say that all of these people—in this case about 90% of the population—die because they are unhappy and stressed, or that if they were as happy as can be, they would not get sick.
Feeling happy and joyful does not in the least make us immune to disease. My dad was a remarkably happy and joyful fellow for most of his life, but he was fat from the age of about 25, was taking various medications from the age of about 50, and increasing in number with time, just as his parents, and just as most people today, and he died rather unexpectedly (isn’t this almost always the case?), at home, from heart failure due to extreme dehydration as a consequence of four days of intensive chemo intended to treat a rapidly growing cancerous sarcoma in the arm. This happened even though he walked into the hospital with a spring in his step, and the belief of a good natured, joyful man that he would make it through this thanks to his positive attitude, and his lack of fear about this whole cancer thing. Obviously he was proved direly wrong, and so were the stupid, incompetent doctors that recommended that treatment to this obviously fragile 70 year-old man with highly compromised health.
The chemo administered intravenously, burned through him from the inside: he had continuous diarrhoea with no control of his bowels, but every time he drank even a sip of water, he said it felt like fire burning through his throat. So, he couldn’t drink. Amazingly, the nurses that came to measure his blood pressure, which must have been low and dropping by the hour, must not have noticed or found this problematic, because they didn’t bring him back to the hospital and put him on an IV in order to provide the water and salt needed to keep the heart and kidneys working. Living 5600 km away and 6 hours ahead, I was made aware of all of this in retrospect with several days delay, and was unable to do anything about it in time. Everything happened really quickly: four days of chemo, and he was dead seven days later.
It is one thing to know and say that negative stress, whatever form it takes, poisons our health, and indeed makes us weak, tired, and prone to developing a wide range of disease conditions. But it is another entirely different thing to say that if you are happy and joyful you don’t really need to worry about what you eat as long as you eat a “healthy” and “balanced” diet, and enjoy what you eat. That’s plain wrong, objectively false. And what does “a healthy” or “balanced” diet mean anyway? A little bit of everything? Certainly not! And isn’t this what we are aiming to define as precisely as possible through reading, studying, personal experience and investigation, and efforts towards the noble goal of achieving perfect health?
Why brush your teeth with Tooth Soap instead of with Colgate, Crest, Tom’s or nothing at all? Is it because it makes you happier, or it is because you know it’s better for the teeth? It’s the latter, of course. And independently of your state of happiness and joyfulness, Tooth Soap is better for your teeth and your health than Colgate, (and a high quality natural bar soap is even better and much cheaper). In exactly the same way, a green juice made entirely of green vegetables is a million times better for you than a fruit smoothie with bananas, apples and berries, or peaches, apricots and carrots, or whatever you like. And this is independent of your state of happiness or unhappiness, even when considering that drinking the fruit smoothie may make you feel “better” and happier than drinking the possibly (but not necessarily) bitter and astringent green juice.
Why? Not just because the fresh green juice is so objectively excellent for your health in so many ways, but primarily because each droplet of insulin in your blood beyond the strict minimum needed by the body at any given time damages the cells and tissues throughout, from the toe nails, the hair, and the skin, to the eyes, the optic nerve, and the brain cells, in the entire circulatory system, and to and from every cell, tissue and organ in every part of the body. Therefore, because insulin is raised above the strict functional minimum more and more by every single additional gram of insulin-stimulating carb you eat or drink, this means that every one of these grams of carbs harms the body in some way. The green juice can be said to be objectively good in the absolute sense of the word, while the fruit smoothie can be said to be objectively bad, also in the absolute sense of the word. Yes, I’m sorry to have to repeat this, but sweet fruit other than berries is bad for your health. And fruitarians, like Steve Jobs for most of his adult life, well: pancreatic dysfunction, failure or cancer (as was the case for Jobs), and otherwise cancers of all other kinds will almost inevitably come to anyone who eats only fruit for an extended period of time. This is entirely independent of what you think about it, what you feel about it, and how happy or unhappy you are when you eat or in general. It’s objectively thus, based solely on the biochemical effects of these foods on the body and its metabolism.
Going further still with the biochemical connections, everything we eat can either relieve inflammation or cause it, relieve acidosis or cause it, and therefore, either relieve bodily stress or cause it. All insulin-stimulating carbs directly and indirectly cause inflammation, cellular damage, acidosis, and thus physiological stress. This physiological stress not only compounds with the psychological stressors, but actually causes additional psychological stress, even if it is not perceived as such, simply because stress hormone levels are higher. As a consequence, we are more sensitive, more delicate, more prone to anxiety and nervousness, more easily startled and generally edgy, all of which just means we are stressed, more stressed.
There’s just no way around this: the bodymind is a seamlessly bound whole in which everything affects everything else, in all ways and at all levels. And once more, from the cellular perspective, the cells really don’t care in any way about how you feel, what you think, what you believe and how joyful or happy you are. How could they? They only strive to survive as best they can in the environment of the body, and they experience the consequences of everything we eat, drink, do, think and feel compounded and mixed together, only through how all of this is expressed in the complex biochemical makeup of that inner environment.
An excellent illustration of the importance of optimal biochemical balance is B12 deficiency induced disease conditions such as depression, psychosis, bipolar mania, schizophrenia and paranoia. You can take someone suffering from any one of these conditions that would be almost certainly, and thus inevitably wrongly, diagnosed as psychiatric in nature, give them all the drugs you wish, all the attention, love and caring, all the therapy and counselling in the world, and nothing will make them better. Only correcting the B12 deficiency will make them better. And often almost immediately so, within days, through daily injections of 1-2 mg doses of methyl-cobalamin.
I do not put into question the intentions and sincerity of health writers and bloggers. What I put into question is the advice given that has the potential to reach countless thousands, and cause harm to those who, looking up to these health role models, choose to follow their recommendations. Since we are concerned with optimal health, we need to be accurate and scrutinising. We need to be clear and sharp, pragmatic and scientific, and come to solid conclusions based on facts, in this case, physiological, biochemical and metabolic facts. And this cannot be done without, on the one hand, a thorough understanding of physiological, biochemical and metabolic functions, and on the other, measurements of the blood markers that are the most direct means we have to look inside, so to speak, in order to objectively assess the state of health or disease of the body.
(This was written in response to a comment by Gabriala Brown (Tooth Soap) about a comment I made in reaction to a post by Frederic Patenaude on Kevin Gianni’s Renegade Health blog. If you enjoyed reading this article, please click “Like” and share it on your social networks. This is the only way I can know you appreciated it.)