What is Health?

by Kelly Noonan Gores

In this age of information we are constantly inundated with bad news, under tremendous pressure to “keep up with the Joneses,” and experiencing a declining connection with the natural rhythms and cycles of the universe. All of these factors lead to enormous emotional stress. According to a 2016 article in Time magazine, the post- 9/11 generation has been “raised in an era of economic and national insecurity. They’ve never known a time when terrorism and school shootings weren’t the norm. They grew up watching their parents weather a severe recession, and, perhaps most important, they hit puberty at a time when technology and social media were transforming society.”

Incidents of depression and anxiety in teenagers are skyrocketing because of the heartbreaking pressures of social media and an ever-increasing competitive culture to achieve. Social, political, and environmental causes are likely implicated in an increase in the number of teens each year who have had a depressive episode—up 37 percent between 2005 and 2014. High school students today have more anxiety symptoms and are twice as likely to see a mental health professional as teens in the 1980s4 This is great for drug companies that produce antidepressants and ADHD medication. Not so great for the developing minds and bodies of our children.

Along with the rise of emotional stressors, we are experiencing a parallel rise of chemical stressors in modern society. Due to the bulk and convenience trends in the food industry,

• We are seeing more cheap chemical substitutes and preservatives in our food;

• We are eating out of season, nonlocal food that is often picked in another country and flash-ripened with gas after two weeks in transit to its destination; and

• We are consuming genetically modified produce and animal products from animals being fed unnatural diets, hormones, and antibiotics, which can have a detrimental effect on whoever consumes them.

According to the Center for Food Safety, “It is estimated that upwards of 75 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves—from soda to soup, crackers to condiments— contain genetically engineered ingredients.” These food-like substances and chemical stresses amount to a detrimental burden on our bodies. Our digestive systems get confused and sick, and our immune systems can’t keep up with their detox, repair, and regenerate functions. Also, in addition to our foods, harmful chemicals in many cleaning and beauty products are disrupting our hormones and adding to the tremendous toxic burden on our bodies. As we move further away from natural ingredients and real food, we move further away from our natural state of health.

As our immune systems become taxed and overwhelmed by the modern onslaught of emotional and chemical stresses, we become more susceptible to bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in our environments. It has become clear that our conveniently plastic-wrapped modern lifestyle is a double- edged sword. So how can we take the best of what science and technology have to offer, yet protect ourselves from the negative side effects of some advancements? The answer is found inside of us.


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