32 Elements of Health: How Round is Your Wheel? : (Introduction to a 32-part series)
by Luke Sartor
Published: Mon, 13 Jun 2011
In the coming months, we will be presenting a series of short articles about each of the 32 fundamental elements of health, as identified on page 10 of The 80/10/10 Diet.
In case you haven’t read the book yet, here they are:
Fundamental Elements of Health
Are You Thriving or Surviving?
Rate yourself, from zero to ten, in each of the following areas:
_____ 1) Clean, fresh air
_____ 2) Pure Water
_____ 3) Foods for which we are biologically designed
_____ 4) Sufficient sleep
_____ 5) Rest and relaxation
_____ 6) Vigorous activity
_____ 7) Emotional poise and stability
_____ 8) Sunshine and natural light
_____ 9) Comfortable temperature
_____ 10) Peace, harmony, serenity and tranquility
_____ 11) Human touch
_____ 12) Thought, cogitation, and meditation
_____ 13) Friendships and companionship
_____ 14) Gregariousness (social relationships, community)
_____ 15) Love and appreciation
_____ 16) Play and recreation
_____ 17) Pleasant environment
_____ 18) Amusement and entertainment
_____ 19) Sense of humor, mirth, and merriment
_____ 20) Security of life and its means
_____ 22) Creative, useful work (pursuit of interests)
_____ 23) Self-control and self-mastery
_____ 24) Individual Sovereignty
_____ 25) Expression of reproductive instincts
_____ 26) Satisfaction of the aesthetic senses
_____ 27) Self-confidence
_____ 28) Positive self-image and sense of worth
_____ 29) Internal and external cleanliness
_____ 30) Smiles
_____ 31) Music and all other arts
_____ 32) Biophilia (love of nature)
—taken from The 80-10-10 Diet
by Dr. Douglas Graham
This list is not exhaustive, nor it is presented in any particular order or ranking. However, we consider the first ten to be indispensable —essential— for even a moderate level of true health.
Most of these elements work synergistically. That is, when we incorporate any one of them into our lives, others may be enhanced as well. Conversely, a neglected or out-of-balance element can diminish the integrity of one or more of the others.
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Your Weakest Link
Dr. Graham often says, “our health is only as strong as our weakest link,” a sobering fact that drives home the importance of well-rounded healthful living. Having even one element off kilter reduces our overall experience of health. This is in accord with the Law of the Minimum, which states that the quality of the whole is dependent upon the quality of its least optimally provided part.
Even if you are the fittest, most enthusiastic, most successful man or woman in every area of your life, if you don’t eat healthfully, your ability to thrive is compromised. And, if you do eat very well and give yourself the best of care in all other respects, but don’t get nearly enough sleep, then you still won’t attain the most vibrant state of health possible.
The Spoke Analogy
Perhaps an even better image is to picture each element as a spoke in a wheel. Doing so, we can immediately see not only the danger of neglecting certain elements (resulting in a wheel with weak, short, or missing spokes) but also the folly of overemphasizing certain elements (diet or exercise, for example), to the exclusion of the others. A bicycle with one or two long, strong spokes, while the others are short and weak, will offer a lumpy ride, at best!
Programmed for Thrival
Our bodies are forgiving: if we eat really poor-quality food for years on end, don’t get enough sun exposure, don’t breathe lots of clean, outdoor air each day, don’t sleep or exercise enough, and are stressed out of our brains, there is still hope. Our bodies will do their best to restore wellness just as soon as we begin implementing healthier practices into our lifestyle regimen. This is because we are programmed not only for survival, but for “thrival.” Our bodies want to be exuberantly well. They want us to know firsthand what true health really feels like. So, when we live in fuller harmony with our inherent health requirements, our bodies respond positively. They are predisposed to thrive.
However, limits do exist to the degree our bodies can heal themselves. If we have chain smoked for several decades, we wouldn’t expect our lungs to return to the condition we enjoyed as young children. Just as scars form on our skin when we have a nasty accident, markers of damage develop inside of us when we abuse our beautiful bodies. In spite of this, no point can be rationally made that contraindicates living more healthfully. When we incorporate healthier practices into our lives, our bodies thank us by doing everything they can —based on the conditions we provide— to gain, regain, and eventually maintain, flourishing health.
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Take Some Time to Self-Assess ...
We will address one of these elements in more detail in the next article of this series. In the meantime, you might wish to review the above list and make a note of which elements are least adequately present in your life. A close friend or relative, or someone with experience and training in health, may be able to help you pinpoint your weakest links. Once you have identified them, think about ways to integrate those elements more fully into your lifestyle. If, for example, sleep is one of your weakest spokes at the moment, the solution may be as simple as going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual. If fresh air is the problem, adding a few potted plants into your house or apartment, or keeping a window or two open while you sleep and work, can do wonders.
This series will give you lots of ideas and inspiration to take more excellent care of every facet of your health. We’ll start with the top ten, which you should optimize to the greatest degree possible. Then your goal is to identify and shore up your weakest links (shortest spokes), aiming for uniformly sturdy spokes. At the end you can do a post-test to assess how far you’ve come.
In closing, I offer this long but appropriate quote. I invite you to read it slowly and contemplate its truth deeply.
Enjoy the journey!
- Getting Optimal Results by Dr. Graham
- The 32 Elements of Health: Vigorous Activity by Luke Sartor
- The 32 Elements of Health: Inspiration, Motivation, Purpose, and Commitment by Luke Sartor
- The 32 Elements of Health: Emotional Poise and Stability by Luke Sartor
- The One Car Theory by Dr. Graham