The Most Powerful Health Solution

From Alzheimer’s to anxiety, from diabetes to depression, the spiraling, signature maladies of modern life suggest Americans are sick and sad.

Why?

Junk food, junk pharma, and junk culture all are just symptoms.

Charles Hugh Smith of the indispensable Of Two Minds blog reveals the root.

“Financializing the human experience,” he says, is the social plague of our age:

“It means turning everything into a financial transaction that profits an enterprise and the state. Since the state needs profitable enterprises to generate its tax revenues (and to pay wages that generate payroll/income taxes), the state is an implicit partner in every financializing the human experience transaction.”

A hallmark of the trend’s pervasiveness is the fact that few notice it. Consider that:

  • Tools once lent freely among neighbors are now bought from the big box store — even if only for one use
  • Child care, once confined within the affectionate bonds of friends and family, is outsourced to day care centers
  • Dinner at home with family is becoming ever rarer — this year, for the first time, Americans spent more on dining out than on groceries.

And on and on, and all increasingly seen as unremarkable.

An entire generation is growing up without experiencing the friendly, cooperative, cash-free interchanges that were once ubiquitous.

Which matters, because financialization of transactions once propelled only by love and respect is both a cause and an effect of loneliness.

And loneliness kills.

The Risks of Isolation

A Brigham Young University study published in March 2015 combined results of 70 earlier studies encompassing about 3 million people.

Loneliness, it found, conveys more health risk than obesity.

In fact, loneliness is roughly as dangerous to health as alcoholism.

The report concludes that “feeling” lonely increased the risk of death during the course of the studies by 26 percent.

But what about people in these studies who avoided others because, they said, they prefer to be alone?

Healthwise, this kind of person fared even worse.

Voluntarily living alone increased the risk of death by 32 percent.

Unfortunately, these days, people with this preference seem to be more numerous, and more ostensibly satisfied with themselves. My Facebook feed overflows with advice on “How to Treat Introverts Like Me.“

“It’s just who I am,” they proclaim. “Give me my space.”

But I would encourage the proud introverts to consider the extent to which their behavior is cultivated.

As Charles Hugh Smith points out, governments, banks, and corporations of all stripes profit from social atomization. And they appear to be winning in this effort.

In the 1920s, five percent of Americans lived alone.

In 2013, it was 27 percent.

“Not only are we at the highest recorded rate of living alone across the entire century, we’re at the highest recorded rates ever on the planet,” said the study’s co-author, Tim Smith. “With loneliness on the rise, we are predicting a possible loneliness epidemic in the future.”

So…

Isolation can be seductive. No compromise required. No quid pro quos exacted.

In this modern American “society of the maximal self,” as psychologist Martin Seligman has termed it, the advantages of sequestering oneself can seem multifold.

And the potential hassles of emotion-driven interaction overwhelming.

But at least consider this idea: Your — our — adoration for isolation is not us talking.

It’s an avaricious, parasitic culture talking through us.

No human being truly thrives in utter isolation, including misunderstood artists like you… and me.

We can loudly insist that we are thrilled, delighted, intoxicated by autonomy.

But if we carefully consider the times when we’ve actually been happiest, the review inevitably takes us to a moment that was intimate — or crowded — but almost certainly not alone.

There’s more to robust health than an optimized diet, disciplined exercise, and maximized sleep.

Your most potent health solution is someone else.

And the lovely part is someone else’s most potent health solution is you.

(If “financialize” is a word, “definancialize” is as well. I’d love to hear how you have definancialized your life. Please send your story to healthfeedback@lfb.org.)

Regards,

Brad Lemley

Editor, Natural Health Solutions


Citations:

Julianne Holt-Lunstad et al “Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality A Meta-Analytic Review.” Perspective on Psychological Science, March 2015, doi: 10.1177/1745691614568352

Brad Lemley

Written By Brad Lemley

Brad Lemley is a science and health writer and former senior correspondent for The Washington Post and Discover magazine. He is a tireless advocate for safe, natural, self-directed healthy living practices and therapies.

View More Free Articles

The Hidden Heart Danger LURKING in Your Gut?

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, Living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is no walk in the park. The cramping, the urgency, the endless trips to the bathroom—it’s a daily struggle that can leave you exhausted and frustrated. And here’s the kicker: sometimes, IBD’s vague symptoms can lead to misdiagnosis or even NO diagnosis at all....

Read This

Has the Key to Unlocking Better MS Treatments Been Found?

Dear Living Well Daily Reader, Imagine waking up one morning and feeling a strange tingling in your fingers. You brush it off, thinking it’s just a pinched nerve. But then, your vision starts to blur, and your balance is thrown off. Suddenly, you’re faced with a terrifying reality: you have multiple sclerosis (MS). For the...

Read This

6 Secret Ways to Spot HIDDEN Processed Foods

“Avoid eating processed foods,”—If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. The reason why is simple. These Frankenfoods are designed to satisfy your taste buds. But they leave your body full of foreign chemicals that can cause harm and in need of more nutrients. But a patient asked me the other day,...

Read This

8 Red Flags There’s a Heart Attack in YOUR Future

Humor me and count to 40. Done? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in the United States just had a heart attack. That adds up to around 805,000 people a year. Many of those were a “silent” heart attack, with the victim having no clue it even happened—and they go...

Read This

Mailbag! Neuropathy Pain? Ease Tingling in Hands and Feet

“I’m diabetic and have burning, tingling pain in my feet. My doctor says it is peripheral neuropathy, and there aren’t any cures. But do you have any tips to help me deal with it?” —Hank Hi Hank, Uncontrolled blood sugar can trigger nerve pain called peripheral neuropathy. This condition causes pain and numbness, usually in...

Read This

5 Often Overlooked Diabetes Red Flags

Some of the worst diseases we face are also the stealthiest. They silently sneak up with few signs that they’re harming us from the inside. Well, that is until it’s too late, and they’re well-established. Osteoporosis and hypertension are on that list. And so is type 2 diabetes. In fact, scientists estimate that around 25...

Read This

ALERT: CGMs Can Give Inaccurate Glucose Readings

Keeping your blood sugar in check is critical for a longer, healthier life. It used to be if you wanted to watch your blood sugar for hours at a time, you’d have to go to a lab and be hooked up to an expensive, complicated machine. But now, anyone can get a continuous glucose monitor...

Read This

“Eat the Rainbow” Trick Drives Down Cancer Risk

If I were to ask you, “What’s the color of good health?” what would you say? Maybe it’s green or blue, the “colors of nature.” Or rosy pink cheeks may come to mind. Well, it turns out the “colors of the rainbow” might be the best answer. Research suggests the key to a long, healthy...

Read This

Unexpected Danger LURKS in Your Drinking Glass

I’ve said it so often I’m in danger of sounding like a broken record. (For those folks old enough to remember them.) But this habit is such a threat to your health it’s STILL worth the risk. One of the WORST things you can swallow is sweetened beverages—made with natural and fake sugars. They’ve already...

Read This

Are Fitness Watches WORTH the Expense?

I wear a fitness tracker. A patient pointed to it the other day and asked me if it was worth the expense. It caught me off guard at first. But then I explained, “It depends…” I personally enjoy wearing a fitness tracker because I like tracking my exercise. And it helps keep me motivated. These...

Read This