Health - The Royal Road
( Originally Published 1938 )
ARE you joyously swinging along the ROYAL ROAD the path to health? Or are you plodding, stumbling along the bumpy by roads that lead to ILLNESS? Whichever you are, we are bringing you, as an individual, this personal Message of Health.
If you are traveling along its Royal Road, we want to tell you how you can keep there. It is all too easy to make a false turn when your attention is diverted by your companions or your surroundings, and to find yourself lost in the bewildering maze that leads only to illness. And if you have lost the Royal Road, we are going to tell you how, with a little patience, you may regain it.
HEALTH IS POSITIVE. Don't let the dictionary fool you into believing that it means "the absence of illness" Health is that very positive quality which enables you to get all you can out of life. It is not a goal in itself simply a means towards a goal and the goal is Life.
And Life is not mere existence. Life means using to its fullest capacity every physical and spiritual endowment Nature has given you. Life means the joys of love, of companionship, of parenthood; it means the happiness and content that come with work well done and it means the carefree spirit of lay. It means the fulfillment of your most cherished dream, whether it be marriage, children, your own little home in the suburbs, a trip to Europe, an ermine wrap or the political or social leadership of your community.
So we may say that Health is the means of getting all the fun out of living fun that is rightfully yours. Health means Life itself.
All the human interests we have just listed present a pretty wide range of activity, yet they all have a common denominator Energy. Everything we do requires energy. Indeed, the mere act of living requires the expenditure of energy. Hence Energy may be called the basic principle of life.
Now energy means the output of work. The fuel which gives us our energy is the food we eat, just as the gasoline is the fuel which makes the wheels of your automobile go round.
The food we eat is not directly converted into energy. It must first be digested, absorbed and finally assimilated by the various parts of the body. It is then burned in the presence of oxygen taken from the Air we breathe, energy and heat being liberated.
But not all the food consumed is converted into energy. Some of it is used to build new and to repair old tissues. While these processes are going on all the time it is during Sleep that most of the reparation is carried on. It is principally for this purpose that Nature has granted us the boon of Sleep.
And back of everything we find as the ultimate source of energy the Sun, worshipped the world over by primitive folk as the Giver of Life. It is through the action of the sun's rays that plants are able to make starches and sugars that we consume either in the form of vegetables and fruits or ultimately in the form of meat. It is the sun that gives us Vitamin D and it is its warmth that rejuvenates both the well and the sick. Small wonder that it is worshipped as a god!
Thus we see that the body is the theater of constant change. The processes of breaking down and building up, the liberation of energy and heat continue without intermission during life. During every moment of life waste is being formed by the destruction of tissue. It is imperative that this effete material be properly removed if you want to partake of the joys of good health.
Nature has provided adequate means for the removal of these waste substances, the retention of which obstructs and irritates the complex mechanism of the human system. The principal agents for the expulsion of waste matter are the lungs, the skin, the kidneys and the intestinal canal.
The intestinal canal is particularly important, since by it the waste products of digestion are expelled. If it fails promptly to fulfill its office, every vital function is interfered with; and the waste is reabsorbed directly into the circulation. The residue hardens. This process, known as constipation, goes on from day to day, week to week, month to month, until not infrequently it happens that the colon becomes distended to several times its normal size. Not only is it impossible to estimate the evil caused by the reabsorption of waste poisons from the impacted feces, but it is impossible to estimate the evil caused by an engorged colon monopolizing two or three times its allotted space in the abdominal cavity, crowding and hampering the other organs in their work.
Hence Internal Cleanliness is just as vitally important, if not more so, than External Cleanliness. Strange it is indeed that it has been so neglected in the teaching of personal hygiene to the young. All of us have childhood memories of vigorous behind the ear washings, reprimands for coming to the dinner table with dirty hands, dreaded Saturday night baths and other manifestations of external cleanliness. But few of us, I vouch, remember definite preachments on internal cleanliness. The castor oil bottle didn't appear until we refused to eat or pulled sister Susie's hair. Then it seemed to be a punishment pure and simple and not a corrective.
But no matter how careful you are about cleanliness, about diet or any of the other factors contributing to good health, health cannot be yours without Exercise. It is exercise that helps the blood vessels to bring nourishment to the various parts of the body and to carry away the waste products. And it is exercise that strengthens the tone of the muscles so that the organs dependent upon them for their functioning can carry on their work efficiently.
And so we have a picture of the human mechanism greedy in its demands, yet awesomely beautiful drinking in the fresh air, reaching for the sunshine, partaking of animal and vegetable at its will all for the sake of doing what it wants for the sake of life.
And as fast as the human mechanism absorbs these life givers, it gives them off in the form of energy, heat and waste matter. Greedy, too, that it is, it is exacting to the point of finickiness. Neglect to give it the sunshine, the air and food, neglect to rid it of waste and it will refuse to work.
Ironically enough, whether you take care of your mechanism or neglect it, old Mother Nature sends you sleep, or withholds it when you crave it most. Just a reminder and a not too gentle reminder that she is all supreme and her laws must be obeyed.
These laws and we have mentioned them all are the Laws of Health: Fresh Air, Sun, Right Diet, Exercise, Sleep and External and Internal Cleanliness.
Consider them the traffic laws you must obey if you want to travel along the Royal Road. And remember, your greatest enemy is that state trooper, Intestinal Stoppage, always lurking in the shadows of a cross road to catch you if you break a law.
And now we are ready, in the following chapters, to give you in detail the rules and regulations of the Royal Road to Health.