Feeling Good Is Not the Same as Being Healthy
By Dr. Molly Casey
How you are feeling and how you are functioning are two different animals. Feeling has to do with perception and function has to do with operation. How well we feel is not necessarily correlated in any way with how the body is functioning. Understanding the difference -- and embracing that one does not equal or cause the other -- is a big step in embracing the journey of optimal health.
Function means to operate or work in proper or a particular order. The nervous system is the body’s communication system. The brain sends messages down the spinal cord and out the nerves to every cell, system, organ and structure within the body. The better the brain is able to send and receive messages without interference, the more accurate the message and ultimately the better chance each and every cell, system, structure and organ is able to function optimally. The body has a particular order of operation, some of which we know and understand, some of which is beyond our knowledge. The health of the body is dependent upon the level of function of the nervous system.
Feeling is either an emotional state/reaction or a physical sensation. Often a sustained emotional state can create physical sensations; conversely, sustained physical sensations can lead to changes in emotional states. In regard to physical sensations, approximately 11 percent of the nervous system is comprised of receptor cells called nociceptors. These receptors are sensitive to painful stimuli. What this means is that only 11 percent of your entire communication system can detect something that would be perceived as painful.
Function and Feeling
Do function and feeling affect each other? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The answer really isn’t that cut and dry. What I can confidently write is that just simply because you feel good emotionally and/or physically does not mean that you are functioning well and healthy.
Can one feel good and be operating in a poorly functioning body? Absolutely. Davide Astori, a well-known Italian professional soccer player, died in 2018 from cardiac arrest just prior to a match. Professional soccer players are some of the most in-shape humans on the planet. He had no reports of symptomology or issues, yet he died. Clearly, his body was not functioning optimally otherwise he would not be dead.
Can one not feel well and still be functioning optimally? Most often, if there are feelings of prolonged negative emotional states or consistent physical sensations, there is likely some level of disordered function and your body is trying to warn you that there’s something to be paying greater attention to.
With more than a decade of experience caring for many patients, one of the most pervasive inaccurate thoughts influencing the way they operate is that feeling fine or not having pain is an indication of being healthy. With only about 11 percent of the nervous system being able to sense pain, the presence or lack of pain is a horribly unreliable indicator of health -- and I contend a deadly one.
If a lack of symptoms is not an indicator of health, what is?
Although there is no 100 percent correct answer, certainly one could look hard at physical test results to see how specific organs and systems are functioning. Truth is, it’s impossible to know everything. The one thing you can do is look to support your body’s innate level of functioning in some very basic and profound ways.
Assure that the nervous system has the least interference possible and is able to run as optimally as possible. Do this by being regularly checked and adjusted by a chiropractor.
Other things to do include:
- Hydrate the body daily with half of your body weight in ounces of water
- Eat as few processed foods as possible, opting instead for food that’s closely aligned with the current season or is flash frozen fresh
- Minimize sugar intake of any kind
- Move your body daily; create and stick to an exercise routine
- Decrease stress as much as possible and implement a deep breathing and/or meditation practice
- Be consistent
Actively engaging in these activities will support your body’s ability to function as optimal as possible.
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