Taking Control of Your
Health and Well Being
by Georgianna Donadio D.C., M.Sc., Ph.D.
Georgianna Donadio D.C.,
M.Sc., Ph.D., has conducted a private practice in Whole
Person Care since 1976. She is the Founder and Director
of The New England School of Whole Health Education, the
pioneer of Whole Health Education and a provider of patient
and healthcare professional education since 1977. For more
information, visit www.wholehealtheducation.org
or call 1-888-354-HEAL (4325).
Do you ever wonder why, in spite of all your good intentions,
you just cannot seem to take control over your health and wellness
the way you really want to? The answer to that question can be
found in the words of Albert Einstein, who reminded us "you
cannot correct a problem with the same thinking that created it".
In other words, you cannot change old behaviors without new information.
The Institute of Medicine recently published a study that indicates
ninety million Americans are "health illiterate", which
means we do not know how to interpret or use health information
to control or improve our health, or prevent chronic disease.
Data compiled previously identified, "lack of information
as the number one root cause of death". Understanding that
there exists a cause and effect relationship between what we know
and how we behave, we need a model of integrating this important
information to change the behaviors that lead to chronic disease.
According to a 7-year, 1996, Harvard Medical School study, approximately
70% of all cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes.
Furthermore, our diseases and conditions are primarily a result
of stress, food, environment, attitude, emotions or beliefs that
keep us in behaviors that lead to illness. Which invites the question,
are we consciously choosing to be unhealthy, or do we just not
understand sufficiently the relationship between what we think,
how we behave, what we put into our bodies and how we keep ourselves
well or make ourselves sick?
In a world exploding with health information, especially on the
internet, we are caught in the dilemma of having abundant amounts
of information, without a context through which we can understand
and utilize this information in a way that is appropriate for
our own unique personal health needs. There is, however, good
news - making its way into the mainstream of health care is an
integrated model of health information and education that provides
a "whole picture of health" perspective, allowing each
of us to discern and create our own unique approach to taking
charge of our health and well-being. Whole Health Education, developed
over the past 28 years, in cooperation with Boston physicians,
nurses and educators, is an approach to understanding the cause
and effect our behaviors and choices have on our state of health.
Demystifying the five major factors that influence how sick or
well we become, Whole Health Education provides a perspective
on human anatomy and physiology, bio-chemistry, psycho-social,
environmental and spiritual aspects which allows for an authentic
understanding of what we need know to resolve chronic health problems
or to stay healthy. Integrating evidence-based information with
the wisdom of various spiritual teachings and a whole-person overview
of behavioral options, Whole Health Education offers each of us
a tool for personal health management by providing personalized
health information that explains the physical, emotional, nutritional,
environmental and spiritual aspects of a health concern.
For example, Mature Onset Diabetes affects approximately 18.2
million Americans and is the leading health concern in our culture
today. As all chronic conditions are, Mature Onset Diabetes is
a multi-dimensional disease state and the unique Whole Health
perspective, can facilitate the restoration of health for those
with chronic diseases such as diabetes.
What happens on a physical and structural level with Mature Onset
Diabetes? The specialized beta cells of the pancreas, which produce
insulin, become incapable of producing adequate amounts of the
critically necessary secretion. This happens over a period of
years and can begin in our bodies, over time, by eating large
amounts of insulin-provoking foods. These insulin provocateurs,
which are sugars and starches in the form of complex carbohydrates,
require the pancreas to produce more insulin so that the sugars
can be carried over the cell membranes to all parts of the body.
Serious disturbances occur when we do not have enough insulin
to carry the sugar over the cell membranes. Insulin hooks onto
the sugar molecule and acts like a lock and key mechanism to bring
that sugar into the cell which is then used in the energy cycle
of cell metabolism. The nervous system, brain and the lungs cannot
function without the proper metabolism of sugars.
Just as diabetes is a lack of nourishment on a chemical/nutritional
level, so is it a lack of emotional nourishment on an emotional/mental
level. It relates to the "feel good" nourishment component
of your body. What do we know about carbohydrates and serotonin?
Carbohydrates provoke the production of serotonin. Serotonin is
a neuro-transmitter that produces a feeling of well-being. There
is a direct relationship between what our body is doing chemically
and how we feel emotionally. When we crave or build our diet around
carbohydrates, this can be a way of "self-medicating"
our emotional needs by eating carbohydrates to provoke insulin
Sugar problems can affect us emotionally. Let's say you have a
pancreas that is not working properly. What can happen somatic/psychically
from the pancreas to the brain? If we are feeling the ups and
downs of hypoglycemia, and its biochemical/neurological symptoms,
it may undermine our sense of security, self esteem, and produce
anxiety and fear.
What is the emotional component of diabetes and the pancreas?
Often, it can be a poor sense of self-esteem and a fear of not
being "good enough" or not belonging. These feelings,
medicated by the serotonin foods, can lead us to not look deeply
enough into what is causing our health concerns and allow the
feeling/feeding cycle to continue.
On the nutritional side, the treatment for people with Mature
Onset Diabetes is to decrease the stress on the pancreas by making
changes in their diet -- decrease starches and sugars and decrease
calories. Eat less, eat right. What kind of a diet would be best
for preventing Mature Onset Diabetes? Vegetables, vegetables,
and vegetables combined with lean proteins such as fish, chicken,
water, a little fruit and a little fat. In a hypoglycemic situation,
it is wise not to eat grain or sugar, but sprouted grain bread,
and other substitutes can be healthy and satisfying.
Because hormones are chemicals, diabetes and hypoglycemia are
both hormonal-based problems. What we know about the hormone system
is that it works as a balanced interdependent system. Diabetes
is an endocrine-related, systemic problem. With a systemic problem
like diabetes, you have a body system problem--you do not just
have a condition by itself. It is known that the pancreas is related,
through hormone interaction, to the adrenals, and the adrenals
are in turn related to the reproductive system. It is known that
these glands are related through hormone interactions to the pituitary
and the pituitary is related to the thyroid gland, the thyroid
is related to the thymus, and the thymus is related to the immune
Environmental/Internal & External
The environment that we work in, live in, walk through, live near
-- how does that environment have an impact on the way that we
feel and the way we feel about ourselves?
How do we learn to trust in the order of the universe? By behaviors
that come from trusting the order inside ourselves. We do this
by setting boundaries -- codes of conduct of how we are going
to behave, eat, work exercise and live. If we don't violate our
own boundaries, we are less likely to let anybody else violate
our boundaries. We have to start with ourselves. Our experience
of victimization can begin with our own self-victimizing behavior.
Whole Health Education can transform our experience of taking
care of ourselves. It can provide an understanding of our health
concerns and conditions from this multi-dimensional perspective
that makes sense in a way we can utilize the information directly
and in a meaningful way. In addition, having the information provided
in a mindful, respectful way that invites each of us to discern
what we know about our health and condition, how to choose to
resolve the problem and what kind of care we choose to have, allows
each of us to experience whole-person health care through whole
health information. Then, WE become the center of our health and
healing process, rather than the doctors or practitioners we go
to for guidance.
Georgianna Donadio D.C., M.Sc., Ph.D., has conducted a
private practice in Whole Person Care since 1976. She is the Founder
and Director of The New England School of Whole Health Education,
the pioneer of Whole Health Education and a provider of patient
and healthcare professional education since 1977. For more information,
or call 1-888-354-HEAL (4325).