32 Elements of Health: How Round is Your Wheel? : (Introduction to a 32-part series)

by Luke Sartor

Published: Mon, 13 Jun 2011


“We cause our health, or we cause our sickness, through our mode of living!”
— Dr. Herbert M. Shelton

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

_____ 21) Inspiration, motivation, purpose and commitment

_____ 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.

Image by Janie Gardener and Darrel Jarmusch,
all rights reserved.

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.

Image by Elan Sunstar, all rights reserved.

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!

Image by Elan Sunstar, all rights reserved.

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.

Image by Janie Gardener and Darrel Jarmusch,
all rights reserved.

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.

Health is the most desirable possession of mankind. It is the most precious, yet, to some, the most elusive of all possessions. Without its presence all other gifts are but as the feeble flickering of tapers compared with the power and glory of the midday sun, which it represents. The possession of health makes life a perpetual joy. Nothing daunts the man and woman possessed of health —nothing overawes, nothing discourages, nothing overpowers. It is the constant source of untold pleasures— pleasures incalculable, and yet seldom appreciated until they are gone. Health means vim, vigor, snap and energy. Health means clarity and strength of mind; purity and beauty of soul. The healthy person is unconscious of discomfort; he rises superior to it— is absolutely the monarch of all he surveys. He dominates life instead of allowing it to dominate him. He is unconscious of the parts of his body or the functions they perform. He is a unit—a being—a man, whole, complete, vigorous, perfect, happy—because healthy. To such a man work is a joy; obstacles but opportunities for endeavor; difficulties but a means of enlarged triumph. He knows no weariness, no languor, no lassitude, no exhaustion, except the healthy weariness and exhaustion, easily recuperated, that comes from pleasurably exerted strength and vigor. He is a radiating center of life —physical, mental, spiritual. To grasp his hand is a pleasure, to gaze into his eyes a joy, to hear his voice is to feel a thrill, and to peer into his mind is to be stimulated to higher achievement. Health plus, all things else being equal, is what makes the champion, the expert, the “Captain,” in any and every line. It supplies the courage, the daring, the boldness, the aggressiveness of life. It is what makes initiative possible, bulldog pertinacity effective, and achievement assured.
— Bernarr MacFadden

Enjoy the journey!

Additional Resources


Self-Study Materials:

Perfect Health Program
The 80/10/10 Diet
The Cause of Health (DVD)
The Cause Of Health: Dr. Graham's Lectures (10 CDs)
Healthful Living International Symposium (DVD Set)