How to lengthen our lives—and save the planet—by owning our own health: lessons from Human Givens

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We’ve mentioned the Human Givens approach to pyscho-social health as a foundational model for a new politics more than once.

But we haven’t focused much on how the health of the physical body is integrated into that model – indeed, how it is inseparable. In the attached podcast Dr Andrew Morrice, who has been working as a GP in Somerset for over 20 years with a life-long interest in nutrition, answers questions on Why Having a Healthy Mind and Body Matters

It’s not often you get to spend a whole hour with your GP, so sit back and enjoy while Dr Morrice digs deep into:

·      Why drugs work

·      What is the role of e-motion?

·      How our bodies pattern match to prepare us for each moment

·      What is health? And within that, what is mental health?

·      What does it mean to be human? Why do we rarely talk about this as a biological set of needs and capacities?

·      The importance of a variety of exercise – from pottering about to ritual dancing. Just going to the gym won’t cut it.

·      Why running and cannabis have similar effects on the brain

·      Why the idea of moderation can be very misleading.

·      How food choices are more about identity than health

·      How to avoid addiction

Underpinning all these insights is a sense that with only a few adjustments we could all be living lives that feel so much better, lighter, stronger. However, our identities and cultural norms have trapped us into patterns that shorten our lives. Lack of good information about what constitutes a sustaining diet, has trapped us. 

We are more likely to ‘identify’ as a carnivore out of habit than through choice. It can also give us belonging with the past. Of course the same could be said about being vegan - and in this age of climate breakdown, that’s a symbol of activism. So which would you consciously, rather than unconsciously choose?

We associate illnesses with age rather than with misinformation. For example, before we found out that smoking causes cancer and other lung disease, we thought emphysema was a result of growing old. We are only in the early stages still of understanding how much more we could control our own aging process. 

When we suffer emotional abuse at work – too long hours, absence of autonomy, privacy and meaning – we don’t count the cost on our health. We think of work as an ethic. Social norms demand that we suffer the consequences of its poor culture as if we have no choice. 

Can we imagine taking hold of that culture and intentionally re-imagining it for our own future health? Not only through and for getting our physical and emotional needs met in balance, but through cultivating good environments too. What Human Gives calls “the three-legged stool”.

Rather than be swept along by media and consumer dictates – eating what everyone else is eating -  can we develop response-ability for our own health? And in so doing, our own well being and healthy environment?

Ultimately, we are integrated whole beings: our emotions and consciousness are embodied experiences. We are incarnate. Every illness has an emotional component, every emotional complaint a physical correlate.

For example, rheumatoid arthritis, understood to be caused by inflammation in the brain (ref) brings depression with it. The evidence has become so much more available today that the onus is now on the physical condition to prove that it’s separate from the mental conditions.

Having followed a plant-based regime for most of his adult life, Dr Morrice describes what a body actively needs to reach its best potential. Rather than think about a diet as ‘giving up’ foods, he describes adding the things that make the body function positively. Most of which are cheaper than the processed options we opt for, that we have been culturally conditioned to believe cost less time and money. For more of this, visit Dr M’s site Joined Up Health.

As in other aspects of our current socio-political lives, the information revolution in health is gradually making its impact felt. Ironically, the technology that brings the new insights, can also end up distracting us. To really change our habits, we need to pay attention to our bodies, give our minds the free space to imagine alternatives for ourselves. 

So after you’ve listened to the podcast, switch off for a few hours and allow what you heard there to connect with your emotional need for a healthier life. See what happens next.

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