“Eighty percent of all diseases are preventable, nutrition-related civilization diseases. – Health is an information problem”
Dr. M.O. Bruker
How can we define this term?
Before I began my writing process, I decided to do some research on how some of our reliable sources have defined it. My first choice was the dictionary, since, whenever we want to look for a definition or the meaning of a word, the dictionary is one of our first resources. The definition goes as follows: “a condition of being sound in body, mind or spirit”.1 It was a precise, punctual, and basic beginning.
After reading it a couple of times, I honestly have to say that for such a complex term, this definition had a very defined sense of exclusion and reductionism. Using the function word “or” instead of the function word “and” sets the meaning as exclusive. From this specific perspective, to consider separating these three areas from one another means that health will be achieved if it works on the bias that a linear structure or a separation of its parts will determine how we are going to experience it (diets, supplements, weight loss, among others). Therefore, being healthy will be practiced in reference to eating either some specific nutrients or, oftentimes, specific quantities too.
After many years of being involved in this area, as an avid interested party and nutritionist, I’ve learned not to reduce its meaning to the division of the areas that influence us daily. To choose emotions, foods, biochemical and physiological processes, exercise, meditation, lifestyle or the environment over other areas, puts health in imbalance and our pursuit to be a healthy person is incomplete. And, thus, doing that in a wholesome way becomes totally unrealistic.
Reductionism vs. Wholesome
What do we gain, then, from reducing health to only certain parts of the whole? It teaches us to understand each part as part of a greater whole, and that reductionism allows us to see each one in a very detailed way within profound layers of research. We learn to separate in order to focus on individual mechanisms and to understand explanations, effects, and relationships between cause and effect in a linear way. In the end, it’s significant.
It only addresses objective facts of one part of the whole in relation to another. These kinds of linear relationships can be quantified for example into types and quantities of foods we should eat, biochemical and physiological processes that take place in the human body, different types of diets we should follow, among other examples. It addresses theories that can be invalidated partially or completely through experimentation as opposed to the possible outcomes made from the assumptions or deductions from the other remaining parts of the whole. These include: emotions, exercise, meditation, lifestyle and the environment, where direct and indirect relationships between them, affect one another and possible outcomes are predicted from assumptions that became explanations and patterns after observing their behavior in a group of people for long periods of time.
What is wholesome health?
Health is, in the end, the interweaving relationships of all these areas and they cannot function well when they are separated or isolated. Both views, reductionist and the wholesome, rely on each other to embrace the thought that the ‘non-factual’ parts of the body (those internal parts that can’t be measured and analyzed with 100% certainty) can act in harmony with the external parts to become the whole. Beautiful sentence, but how does it work?
It works by giving the body what it needs to function properly. In order to fulfill this purpose the body needs personalized, appropriate, natural, seasonal and regional foods, mostly plant-based; a fitting environment; hydration; time to let the body heal, recover, rest, regenerate; time to chew properly; time to let the body undergo metabolic processes like the breakdown, conversion, absorption and storage of nutrients; time to exercise; time for oneself; an attitude of fulfillment towards life; the use of toxic-free products for personal care and cleaning; and being surrounded by people we truly love to spend time with.
How to apply it?
It sounds like having to pay attention to too many things if you want to pursue a healthy life, and it’s true: there are many aspects to consider. It’s also true that if you take a deep breath, read slower and compare the information with what you do right now, one way doesn’t vary enormously from the other. The difference relies on having a routine that is comfortable for you, and having awareness of the steps you take each day to complete a task automatically because you’ve been repeating it for a very long time. For change to become known and automatized, you need to introduce it step by step into your daily routine. That way, it’s going to be remembered and interiorized by your body and, after a while, your body is going to feel the improvement. With this improvement, you are going to feel much better, energized and balanced.
I come back again to the importance of my definition. A wholesome nutrition is the unification of all parts towards the same objective, to treat all parts with special care and attention in order to reach a wholesome healthy state.
 Merriam Webster dictionary, accessed March 8th, 2018, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/health