Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sickbook: Cells Cry via Social Networking

I'm a twentysomething. This means at least a dozen social laws mandate I create a Facebook account. I didn't feign too much resistance. I love people and Facebook means I can spy on dozens of them without even leaving my desk.

So when autumn swept over the Utah valley, I noticed an interesting trend amongst my Facebook buddies -- everyone kept getting sick, and further, the same few people keep getting sick over and over (and over).

As the repeat offenders kept begging to feel better and drinking NyQuil like water, Dr. Rodier's words rang in my ears, "It's not the bugs, it's the terrain." Then I noticed some commonalities among the germ haters.

One of them bakes cakes for a living. Another spends her days cooking elaborate casseroles and desserts filled with wheat and dairy. Yet another relies on fast-food to carry her through an overpacked graduate school and full-time work schedule. The list goes on echoing a deafening theme: too much sugar, too much wheat, too much dairy, too much stress, and not enough nutrition to keep cell membranes strong and impenetrable to bad guys. Weak, sugar-ravaged cells make staying well and uphill battle.

A larger problem showed itself as I continued seeing this cycle of sickness. I'm sure most of these people know they should eat better, however, most of them would only connect diet with weight issues or cholesterol. The narrative we share as a culture around sickness often does little to foster wellness.

Diseases are portrayed as alien invaders that must be controlled and cured rather than prevented and proactively responded to. The intelligence behind the body's breakdown is often lost, submerged, drowned even, by palliative care.

I long to help shift our collective "story" around health to a tale where nutrients and so-called alternative healthcare practices are the heros, not the black sheep of medicine.

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