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Top 9 Teeth Whitening Myths Busted and Common Questions Answered

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Myth 1 – Teeth Whitening ruins your tooth enamel

Not generally true! Professional Teeth Whitening product suppliers mostly use Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide Peroxide as the active ingredients in their tooth whitener gels. The chemical Hydrogen Peroxide (HO) is a bleaching agent which converts into water (HO) and releases an Oxygen molecule (O) in the process of the chemical reaction. Both Water and Oxygen are common, safe components of our everyday lives.

The Oxygen particles penetrate the rough surface of your tooth (even though they appear smooth, they are microscopically rough, rod like crystal structures) and dislodge staining particles. I like to explain this by imagining the TV commercials which show how a clothes washing powder with oxygen lifts stains from your clothing.

The “bleach” Hydrogen Peroxide is not the same as household bleach containing ammonia, or other low-end, acid based tooth whitening products, and can be swallowed, within limits. In fact our own bodies produce Hydrogen Peroxide naturally!

Acidic products can remove enamel from your teeth. Look for teeth whitening products using Hydrogen Peroxide which is pH balanced, meaning they have no, or low acidity levels. Putting acidity into perspective, you should be aware that everyday Orange Juice is shown in lab studies to soften (and potentially erode) tooth enamel by many times more than a professional hydrogen peroxide based tooth whitening gel could, if used correctly.

Myth 2 – Teeth Whitening is not Safe

Not true! Cosmetic Teeth Bleaching with Hydrogen Peroxide has been in use for 100 years. Most recognized dental bodies worldwide endorse tooth bleaching as a generally safe practice, when simple safety steps are followed. Any professional supplier of teeth whitening products will include adequate instructions for the safe use of their product.

Safety vs Risk with tooth whitening is generally centred on 2 main issues: Exposure of the gel to the gums and soft tissue of the mouth or lips, and tooth sensitivity. Both can be minimized by using professional products and minimizing the amount of time the bleaching gel is exposed to the gums or teeth.

As with any cosmetic procedure, there are potential risks. Thankfully with professional teeth whitening any side effects experienced are temporary and are not permanent. As with most cosmetic procedures, you may have to endure some discomfort to look better. Sometimes I call this “Vain Pain”.

Myth 3 – All whitening Gel is the same

Not true! Of the two major professional gel options, there is Carbamide Peroxide and Hydrogen Peroxide. Both produce the same active ingredient Hydrogen Peroxide, but Carbamide Peroxide acts SLOWER on the teeth and is recommended for use only with an Accelerator Light (I will talk about that later) or for overnight use. Carbamide Peroxide concentrations contains roughly 1/3 of the active ingredient, Hydrogen Peroxide. As an example, 35% Carbamide Peroxide is roughly equal to 12% Hydrogen Peroxide.

Because Hydrogen Peroxide is an unstable chemical which reacts immediately, it is more expensive to produce. Many vendors offer only Carbamide Peroxide based products as a result. Stabilized Hydrogen Peroxide, while the most difficult and expensive to produce, reacts immediately on contact with the teeth and is best suited for short duration tooth whitening treatments without an accelerator light.

Myth 4 – Teeth Whitening Accelerator Lights don’t work

Not generally true! Except in some cases. There are businesses who sell only take home teeth whitening kits, and some Dentists, who say that the LED Lights and other accelerator lights are just a gimmick and don’t work.

There have been many studies conducted which show that the use of a professional accelerator light does indeed accelerate the oxidization (the release of oxygen and chemical bleaching reaction) of tooth whitener gel. This is especially true with Carbamide Peroxide based whitening gels which react much slower chemically.

Ask yourself, how many Dentists and Cosmetic Dentistry businesses offer an “in-office”, “chairside”, “instant whitening” or “Power Whitening” treatment? Many of them! Now why would they offer this treatment if the accelerator lights did not work? From my own professional experience, there is no doubt that the professional quality Blue LED Accelerator lights enable a faster tooth whitening result when using Carbamide Peroxide gel. In our own studies and observations having worked with thousands of clients and compared the results with the same gel, over the same time period, with and without the LED Accelerator Lamp, we are sure there is a noticeable improvement with the light under these conditions.

But, not all Accelerator Lights are the same. Some Dentists use older technology lamps such as Plasma, UV and other technologies. These technologies function at a light spectrum which is known to cause heating or burning of the skin tissue and heating of the tooth surface to release the oxygen in the gel, unfortunately that can also mean UV damage to your mouth, gums and lips. There are also mini handheld LED Lights you often see in TV Commercials – these are only toys and do not have enough power to have any effect.

Another case of where an accelerator light doesn’t work well is if the provider uses a mouth tray to hold the gel against the teeth, and this tray is coloured, is a “Silicone Impression” tray, or is a Pre-Filled Foam tray. These types of mouthguard trays do not allow the light frequency to pass through them and there are no accelerated bleaching effects as a result.

Modern, professional teeth whitening accelerator lamps all use LED light in the blue light spectrum, at a specific frequency which excites the oxygen release from the chemical, and accelerates the tooth whitening process. They are often known as “Cool LED” or “cold” light accelerators because they do not heat the teeth or surrounding tissue. As a result, they are perfectly safe, and the technology is FDA Apparoved.

Myth 5 – You need to go to a Dentist to get professional whitening results

Not true! Today, you can buy in Australia, professional strength tooth whitening products which you can use at home or as a service with a professional accelerator light and assistance – and not just from the Dentist.

Dentists are exclusively allowed to use the VERY STRONG bleaching gels, over 16% Hydrogen Peroxide, and up to 35% Hydrogen Peroxide. At these strengths of whitening gel, the real risks are tooth sensitivity and gum trauma. Dentists therefore use a special gum barrier which they apply to your gums prior to applying the strong gels. A Dentist will usually get a better whitening result in the same amount of time as a non-dental treatment, but there are costs to consider, both financially and in increased tooth sensitivity when using the stronger Dentist-only treatments.

For many years the Dentist’s had the cosmetic teeth whitening market monopolized because professional teeth whitening technology was too expensive for anyone else. Today, the price and availability of professional tooth whitening products means you have many more choices and options.

Myth 6 – Teeth Bleaching Gels from anywhere other than USA, Australia or UK are unsafe

Not true! First of all, in this modern world, you may not even know it but products appearing to be manufactured by a good American or Australian brand are most likely actually manufactured in China. This is true with all types of products and technology worldwide, due to simple economics.

There are many brands of teeth whitening products available in the market. You don’t need to be concerned where they were manufactured, because it makes NO DIFFERENCE. The active chemical, Hydrogen Peroxide is the same the world over. Because Hydrogen Peroxide is also used as a disinfectant, bacteria can’t live in this chemical and it will always be safe (ie; germ and bacteria free) to put Hydrogen Peroxide based gel into your mouth regardless of where it came from or how it was manufactured.

If the Hydrogen Peroxide gel is past its use by date or chemically expired, you will know right away, because the gel turns a milky white colour which shows that it is already oxidized and will no longer be effective at whitening your teeth, it won’t cause any harm.

Myth 7 – You need customized Mouthguard trays to get best whitening results

Not true! While Dentists offer custom mouth trays which costs a lot of money, there are also many home whitening kits providing the boil-n-bite thermoshrinking mouthguards which will work equally as well. The totally custom trays may be a little more comfortable to wear, but they need to be, because in general, a Dentist’s at-home teeth whitening kits require you to have the tray in your mouth for long periods of time, over weeks of use. There are non-dentist products which only require short time duration usage, so it doesn’t matter as much if the mouthguard is less comfortable.

The other problem with mouthguards which are too form-fitted is that the gap between the teeth and the surface of the mouthguard is so small, that only the thinnest layer of whitening gel can fit between. The problem with this is less chemical = less whitening result, so you need to use the mouthguard and gel more frequently, over longer periods of time to get a good result.

Myth 8 – All teeth are the same and whitening results should be like the “Hollywood” smile

Unfortunately, some people have unrealistic expectations and can be disappointed with their teeth whitening results. This is not because professional teeth whitening products don’t work, because they ALWAYS WORK to some degree. It’s because they fail to understand that each person’s teeth are unique in mineral composition, which means that tooth bleaching will produce a different result for each person. If your teeth are genetically more yellow than someone else, your results will not be as white, no matter who’s product you use, how many times you try to whiten your teeth, or what the strength of the gel is. And some people have deep staining from antibiotics, tetracycline etc. which can’t be easily removed and may never be fully removed. Also, there are people with genetically grey or blue tinted teeth for which Hydrogen Peroxide bleaching does not work as well as yellow or brown colour tints.

People see the Hollywood Stars on TV and in Movies and believe they can get their teeth bleached to look like the movie stars. Unfortunately, that is not possible. Chemical Teeth Whitening has its limits of effectiveness and will not produce the pure white colour (for most people) you see on Movie Stars. Does that mean that movie stars are just genetically lucky? No, it means that movie stars have often paid many thousands of dollars for Porcelain Veneers to straighten their teeth and make them pure white. Of course you have this option too, if you have the money, but a tooth whitening with Hydrogen Peroxide generally makes a noticeable difference in whiteness and brightness of natural teeth, at a much lower cost than Veneers.

Myth 9 – If I have Caps, Crowns, Veneers or Dentures so I can’t whiten my teeth

Not true! While Hydrogen Peroxide only whitens natural teeth, it also cleans all surfaces, including man-made surfaces of caps, crowns, veneers and dentures. Some dentists say that hydrogen peroxide can weaken the bond of some of these artificial substances, or attack the metal components, but you should check with your Dentist about your specific case before whitening your natural teeth if you are concerned.

It is always better to whiten your natural teeth FIRST if you are going to be getting any caps, crowns etc. fitted. This is because the dentist can then match the colour of the artificial substance to your now whiter, natural teeth, giving an overall whiter smile.

Common Questions and Answers about Teeth Whitening:

Does Whitening Toothpaste work?

The problem here is that there is not a strong enough concentration of any chemical, and it is not concentrated on your teeth long enough to make ANY noticeable difference to the whiteness of your teeth. The only real “whiteness” if you can call it that, which is created by toothpaste is actually the abrasive action of the toothbrush or paste against your tooth enamel. This scratching DOES wear down tooth enamel and also removes large chunks of staining material on the tooth surface, but not the tiny staining particles which make teeth look more yellow. This is the same thing with “Tooth Polishes” which only act like a fine sandpaper to remove tooth enamel while brushing and will cause increased tooth sensitivity with prolonged use tooth enamel thins.

As with the Risk vs Reward argument, while there is significant damage caused to tooth enamel from tooth brushing over time, on balance this is better than the consequences of not cleaning your teeth.

Don’t be fooled by those expensive “whitening toothpastes” – they do not make a noticeable difference to the whiteness of your teeth, they are abrasively removing enamel from your teeth and you’re better off spending your money on something that does work.

Who is suitable for Teeth Whitening?

The generally recommended rules to define people who are suitable for teeth whitening are:

  • Over 16 years of age (due to potential development of the teeth prior to this age, parental consent may be required)
  • Not Pregnant or Lactating (this is an additional safety measure to protect babies, although you would not generally be able to swallow enough Hydrogen Peroxide from a normal teeth whitening treatment to harm your baby)
  • No known allergies to Hydrogen Peroxide. If you have ever developed skin irritation when bleaching your hair with Hydrogen Peroxide, you may be allergic. But if you don’t know you’re allergic, it will become evident in the first few minutes of a teeth whitening treatment, and you can simply stop the treatment. Any side effects, no matter how discomforting will disappear in a few days with no permanent damage.

Aside from these conditions, teeth whitening is not advisable for people with Dental Braces, people with gum disease, open cavities, leaking fillings, recent oral surgery, or other dental conditions. If in doubt, I recommend you visit your Dentist prior to using a professional strength teeth whitening product.

People with grey or blue tint colour to their natural teeth may also not benefit as greatly from teeth whitening using Hydrogen Peroxide, as people with yellow or brown tint colour.

If you have Gingivitis or Periodontal disease, any Hydrogen Peroxide bleach on your gum line will be painful and may produce a small amount of bleeding at the gum line. As a result, I don’t recommend whitening your teeth until these issues are under control with your Dentist. What is interesting however, is that reports have shown that Hydrogen Peroxide can kill the bacteria which causes Gingivitis, possibly preventing further damage.

What are the Risks with Teeth Whitening?

Whitening treatments are generally safe, however, some of the potential complications of these treatments include:

GUM IRRITATION: Whitening gel that comes in contact with gum tissue during the treatment may cause inflammation and/or blanching or whitening of the gums, gum line or inside lips. This is due to inadvertent exposure of small areas of those tissues to the whitening gel. The inflammation and/or whitening of gums is transient, meaning it does not last, and any colour change of the gum tissue will reverse within two hours, usually within 10-30 minutes. Persons with a history of mouth ulcers may develop temporary mouth ulcers which usually disappear within a few days after treatment.

TOOTH SENSITIVITY: Although more common with the in-Office Dentist Treatments using very strong bleaching gels, some people can experience some tooth sensitivity for a period after the whitening treatment. People with existing sensitivity, recently cracked teeth, micro-cracks, open cavities, leaking fillings, or other dental conditions that cause sensitivity may find that those conditions increase or prolong tooth sensitivity after a cosmetic teeth whitening treatment.

SPOTS OR STREAKS: Some people may develop white spots or streaks on their teeth due to calcium deposits that naturally occur in teeth. These usually diminish within 24 hours.

RELAPSE: After a cosmetic teeth whitening treatment, it is natural for teeth colour to regress somewhat over time. This is natural and should be very gradual, but it can be accelerated by exposing your teeth to various staining agents, such as coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine, etc. You should not eat or drink anything except water during the first 60 minutes after a teeth whitening treatment, and avoid tooth staining agents for 24 hours after (eat and drink white or clear coloured foods during this time).The results of a Hydrogen Peroxide based tooth bleaching treatment are not intended to be permanent, and can last up to 2 years when using professional strength treatments. Secondary, repeat, or touch-up treatments may be needed to achieve or maintain the colour you desire for your teeth.

How do I achieve best teeth whitening results?

Before answering this question, you should be thinking of the tooth whitening results from a single treatment, as a trade-off against the potential side-effects of a single treatment. The best answer is balance! Balance the potential results with the potential risk of side-effects. The highest concentrations of Hydrogen Peroxide produce the best results in the shortest time, but also have the highest potential side-effects. My recommendation is middle of the road – not the strongest, and not the weakest to get a happy balance of results and risk.

Before you undertake a professional teeth whitening treatment, have your teeth cleaned professionally. At least in the smile area, which is the upper and lower 8-10 front teeth. REMEMBER, teeth are opaque so cleaning the BACK of the teeth is very important to the overall whitening results you will achieve. A Dental Cleaning will remove any excess materials stuck to the outside of your teeth and permit the Hydrogen Peroxide to work best at bleaching your natural teeth, evenly.

Use a professional strength teeth whitening gel. Many Pharmacies, TV Ads and Internet companies promote teeth whitening products which use 3% or 6% Hydrogen Peroxide concentration. These just don’t work well at whitening teeth, and any effect they have takes a LONG time to achieve. The comparative cost difference is not that great between these low-end products and products of professional strength, but the time and effort required is. I recommend 12% Hydrogen Peroxide if available in your area, unless you are using a whitening treatment with a professional accelerator light which can use 35% Carbamide Peroxide. Of course the Dentist in-Office power whitening treatments generally use gel much stronger than 12%, but beware of the potential side effects.

Remember, if your teeth aren’t as white as you would like after the first treatment, you can always allow some time to monitor your gums and teeth for any side-effects, then take an additional treatment(s). Provided the product you are using is not too expensive, this is the best and safest way to achieve optimal teeth whitening results.

How long does Teeth Whitening last?

This depends on the product you use to whiten your teeth, and the lifestyle you lead.

If you are a smoker, or regularly drink red wine or use any other heavily coloured substances regularly, your whiter teeth will become stained again more quickly.

There is no absolute answer to this question, but in general, if you use a professional teeth whitening product for the full treatment as recommended, you may be able to keep the whiter teeth for up to 2 years if you are conscious of what you eat and drink, and maintain your teeth and oral health properly.

Most people are not saints and lead lives where they enjoy red wine or a curry etc. That’s fine, but if you want to keep your whiter teeth you should brush them 60 minutes after you have consumed the food or drink. Research suggests you should not brush immediately after eating because the acid formed in your mouth when eating makes the tooth enamel softer and abrasive brushing of the teeth during this period can be detrimental.

I also recommend the use of Teeth Whitening Pens. They apply a thin layer of Hydrogen Peroxide to the teeth, at any time or place, and will bleach any staining close to the tooth surface (if the concentration is strong enough). Whitening Pens active ingredient only works for 30 to 60 seconds on the teeth because saliva washes it away, so choose a Whitening Pen which uses Hydrogen Peroxide (not Carbamide) and is professional strength gel. Whitening Pens are generally not suitable for removing deeper stains.

I have tooth sensitivity problems, can I still whiten my teeth?

Yes, and you have several options. You could use a desensitizing tooth paste for approximately 1 month prior to whitening your teeth and if sensitivity is reduced, you can use any product. But be aware that your sensitivity will likely increase again during or after the treatment, so I suggest choosing a mid strength whitening gel where you can remove it quickly if discomfort gets unbearable.

The other option is a low strength whitening gel. This will work over a longer period of time, but sometimes also increases sensitivity because of the amount of time required on the teeth to get a good result.

Probably the best option, in my opinion, is a Teeth Whitening Pen of at least 12% Hydrogen Peroxide concentration. Because you can paint the gel onto specific teeth and because the gel is washed away by saliva in less than a minute, this may produce the best results, with the least discomfort.

What should I do immediately after I whiten my teeth?

  • Rinse the gel from your teeth and mouth without swallowing.
  • Brush your teeth within 60 minutes using a tooth paste containing Fluoride to help seal the teeth
  • Don’t eat or drink colored foods, or smoke for at least 60 minutes
  • If you have tooth sensitivity, use a desensitizing tooth paste
  • If you have tingling in your gums, purchase from the Pharmacy a preparation designed to soothe gums. This will help to prevent mouth ulcers forming (if you are predisposed) and decrease the discomfort and duration of any potential gum irritation.

The simple rule to the best Teeth Whitening results

Concentration of Hydrogen Peroxide (Strength) + Time on the teeth (Time) = Results (Effectiveness)

When factoring in Time, you should also consider the consequences of time:

  • More effort, meaning you may not complete the full treatment
  • More inconvenience
  • Enough active ingredient to chemically react over that time period. That is to say, just leaving any whitening gel on your teeth for 24 consecutive hours won’t help because the Hydrogen Peroxide normally is fully reacted and spent within 20 minutes.
  • Longer exposure of the mouthguard to the gums. Friction of the mouthguard can often cause gum irritation
  • Longer exposure of the bleaching gel to the gums. Once again, the risk of gum irritation.
  • Remember, there are limits to the whiteness achievable with natural teeth and these will vary with your tooth genetics, your lifestyle and the state of your teeth at the time of whitening.

More information and Teeth Whitening Product Reviews available by downloading the full report.

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An Interview With Grant Donovan on Varied Matters Relating to Wellness, REAL and Otherwise

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I recently asked Dr. Grant Donovan, one of the earliest promoters of corporate wellness and health promotion, questions about the early years. Here are over a dozen of the questions I put to Dr. Donovan:

1) In what ways was Australia unlike the U.S. for purposes of trying to establish a wellness movement?

2) If you had remained in the wellness business, how might you have expanded upon the wonderful concepts advanced in the early years (mid-80’s and 90’s) when you led Australian conferences, training sessions, wrote books, gave media interviews and engaged in all manner of promotional efforts?

3) Based on your memories of those not-quite-prosperous, golden or halcyon years, how would you describe the key terms of the movement or, if you prefer, the very nature, of a wellness lifestyle, REAL or otherwise as it is or should be today?

4) How much energy did you put into creating a wellness movement in Australia?

5) If you had remained in the wellness business, how might you have expanded upon the wonderful concepts advanced in the early years (mid-80’s and 90’s) when you led Australian conferences, training sessions, wrote books, gave media interviews and engaged in all manner of worksite promotions?

6) Based on your memories of those not-quite-prosperous, golden or halcyon years, how would you describe the key terms of the movement or, if you prefer, the very nature, of a wellness lifestyle, REAL or otherwise?

7) Was there any way the effort could have succeeded (by which I mean “proved profitable” and thus worth continuing)?

8) It seems that corporate and other forms of institutional wellness education has been led by medical doctors, nurses, health administrators, HRA types and maybe a few psychologists? Is there a profession not represented that should have been?

9) Is it possible that a REAL wellness focus, if it comes about, will have more success than the safe, medically based approach that continues to this day?

10) What are best and worst case scenarios for the wellness concept and movement, by any name, ten years or so down the road?

11) Do you believe most people have the capacity to shape and sustain healthy lifestyles?

12) You attended several National Wellness Conferences in the 80’s and 90’s. What is your take on this annual event?

13) Today and since the beginning in the 80’s, worksite wellness has been focused on disease prevention, risk reduction, exercise promotion, stress management, nutritional basics and the like? Is that what you were promoting under the wellness banner?

14) What are the prospects for worksite wellness?

15) When asked, “Grant, tell me please: What’s it all about,” what do you say?

16) What advice do you have for those with little time left, which I suppose is all of us?

I invited Grant to pick and choose as many or as few of these questions to address as he wished. Grant pondered and pondered and pondered. Weeks went by. Reports of pondering going on came in, week after week. Finally, about a month after sending the questions, Grant sent this commentary. In my opinion, his response addresses all the questions and a few that did not occur to me-and maybe one or two I was afraid to ask. Enjoy.

Grant Donovan’s Response

I have been looking at both sets of questions and decided to ignore them all and give you one short answer. Okay, not so much an answer as a wandering series of self-assembling thoughts.

The eighties version of Australian workplace wellness morphed into high performance through self-management. Much more catchy for the bosses. Something they understood and wanted to pay for. Wellness was too esoteric. They wanted hard performance improvements, more dollars and less new age philosophy. They would pay small fortunes for critical thinking, self-management, teamwork, empowering leadership and a range of other wellness skills but little or nothing for programs called wellness.

So we moved on, made a smaller fortune out of real wellness and never used the term once. It was all in the language. The memes.

Which makes me think that wellness lacks a precise meme. When Halbert Dunn and your good self, respectively, coined and popularized the word, it mutated very quickly to become a generic term attached to everything from hand holding and swaying to disease avoidance to alternative medicine to spiritual enlightenment to whatever definition anyone wanted to apply. The genie was out of the bottle very early and it doesn’t appear to be going back any time soon.

Your personal efforts to reset the meme with REAL Wellness is heroic and may succeed but I have my doubts. Not because your efforts won’t be Herculean but because REAL Wellness may only be for the special few. For people like you and a few friends who have the time, money and inclination to dabble. My global observation suggests the rest still need God. Someone to lean on as they slave away at just staying alive. Working hard to exist, without time to contemplate the bigger questions. And this is probably a good thing because if they all stopped to recognize the complete meaninglessness of their lives, nobody would turn up.

By meaningless, I don’t mean life is not valuable or worth living because it clearly is for many people. I personally find it fun, challenging and quirky. By meaningless, I mean it is random and pointless. Totally irrelevant. From a wellness perspective, meaninglessness is extremely liberating. It allows for a freedom of thought and action that cannot be attained through the conforming rigidity of pre-determined purpose. It allows for a rational, critical thought process that renders emotive storytelling mute and lifts scientific logic to a special place, from where we can see the behavioral expression of meaninglessness very clearly.

Okay, so meaninglessness is the answer.

Now you know what Grant Donovan thinks about the issues I raised. I asked Grant for a few lines to go with his interview. He replied: “I’m following the opposite path to Charlie Sheen, with limited or no exposure to the outside world. Your readers will already know that I’m just a good Aussie friend, who doesn’t really have much to say.”

Well, I can respect that, but just the same, here is a brief, unauthorized mini-background bio update on Grant Donovan, Ph.D. A graduate of the University of Western Australia, he is the Managing Partner at Perception Mapping in Perth, Australia and a few other market research firms, including SevenSeventeen and Workplace Global Network. He and I co-authored “Live More of Your Life the Wellness Way” and “Die Healthy” decades ago. We co-presented many times in cities throughout Australia, the U.S., Canada and even Malaysia, but our most memorable performance was a workshop at the National Wellness Conference in Stevens Point, WI. in 1994 devoted to “The Wellness Orgasm.” It was quite a hit.

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Conventional, Versus Wellness Approach, To Health

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What we consider, the conventional approach, to health, in the United States, differs, in many ways, from the way, most of the rest of the world, considers, and approaches, this concept. Many seem to believe, a conventional approach, means, using allopathic medicine, which includes, a primary emphasis on chemically designed, prescriptions, and treatments, while, in most other nations, this approach, includes, both allopathy, as well as alternative remedies, and treatments. Which way, is best for you, depends, on your specific mindset, attitude, overall health, condition, beliefs, etc. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, the different approaches, and some of the different advantages, and disadvantages.

1. Conventional approach: The disadvantage of the so – called, conventional approach, is it pays more attention, often, to the symptoms, rather than all the possible causes, etc. It treats ailments, usually, by using a chemical – drug, to reduce and treat the ailment. It is important to recognize, illnesses, and ailments, should be divided into, chronic versus acute ones, and life – threatening, versus, more common illnesses. I strongly believe, there are many acute conditions, which are best treated with drugs, but there are also circumstances, when the side effects, and potential dangers, may make it less logical. Obviously, when the ailment is life – threatening, such as cancers, severe organ issues (such as pneumonia, liver problems, etc), they need immediate, dramatic treatment, while, at other times, it might make more sense, to use, an alternative approach.

2. Alternative approach: Many use methods, such as Reiki, acupuncture, Ayuverdic, homeopathy, herbal remedies, vitamins and supplements, etc, as an essential part of taking care of their overall health. These often, enhance our immunity, and what we refer to, as resistance. However, one must take care, to do so, in consultation, with a qualified, open – minded, health professional, who is able to use, either approach. Don’t abandon prescribed medications, without thoroughly discussing with your doctor! Know the risks and benefits.

3. Wellness: An intelligent, seamless, merger of both, conventional, and alternative treatments, is, often, the wisest approach. In most of the rest of the world, non – chemical approaches, are used, before conventional ones, in order to minimize over – use, and dependence, and minimize side – effects, and attempt to enhance our body’s immunity and immune system. This is the essence of a wellness program, where we proceed, and take advantage of any modalities, which might enhance and improve our overall health.

Beware, you should do your research, and consult qualified, trained health professionals, in order to use the best combination. It’s up to you!

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Predictors of Healthy Aging – Adult Health and Wellness

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There seems to be a formula for healthy aging, suggested by the latest research on centenarians and the research comparing people in their 20’s – 40’s to those in their 60’s – 90’s. Some of the predictors of healthy aging include: physical, intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual and sexual. Maintaining health and wellness in each of these areas may not prolong your life, but it will certainly improve the quality and enjoyment of your daily existence as you age. And, you may be surprised to find your are living longer than you ever imagined possible.

Physical Predictors of Healthy Aging

A supplement to the November/December 2006 Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior presented the new MyPyramid Food Guidance System, an updated replacement of the former Food Guide Pyramid, based upon research completed over several years.

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), a healthy diet:

o emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grain and fat-free or low- fat milk and milk products
o includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
o is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars

Tufts University researchers have updated their Food Guide Pyramid for Older Adults to correspond with the MyPyramid. This modified version of the MyPyramid continues to emphasize nutrient-dense food choices and the importance of fluid balance, but has added additional guidance about forms of foods that could best meet the unique needs of older adults. In addition, there is greater emphasis upon the importance of regular physical activity.

The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults was published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Added to the new pyramid is a foundation depicting physical activities characteristic of older adults, such as walking, yard work and swimming.

Government statistics indicate that obesity in adults 70 years and older has been increasing, physical activity is one way to avoid weight gain in later years and its adverse effects. Older adults tend to need fewer calories as they age because their metabolic rates tend to slow down. Even if they continue to exercise, they are often not quite as physically active as when they were younger. But their bodies still require the same or higher levels of nutrients to maintain optimal health. Regular physical activity is linked to reduced risk of chronic disease, lower body weight and improved quality of life for older adults.

The Tufts University recommendations for older adults include the following:

o Whole, enriched, and fortified grains and cereals such as brown rice & 100% wheat bread
o Bright-colored vegetables such as carrots and broccoli
o Deep-colored fruit such as berries and melon
o Low- and non-fat dairy products such as yogurt and low-lactose milk
o Dry beans and nuts, fish, poultry, lean meat and eggs
o Liquid vegetable oils and soft spreads low in saturated and trans fat
o Fluid intake
o Physical activity such as walking, house work and yard work.

Intellectual Predictors of Healthy Aging

Healthy aging requires keeping our minds active before and especially after retirement, regularly learning something new and participating in new activities, maintaining an interest in and passion for reading and current events, and often reflecting on the good things in life.

Emotional Predictors of Healthy Aging

Emotionally healthy people are optimistic, generally happy with life, rarely hostile, recover quickly from angry episodes, and tend to live longer. They cope well with stress, maintaining a good sense of humor and a positive attitude, regardless of how the circumstances in their life unfold, and they continue to develop many outlets for recreation and relaxation.

Relational Predictors of Healthy Aging

Those who remain healthy as they age tend to feel supported by a large social network of family and friends. They tend to frequently help others, have many younger friends, remain in successful marriages or enjoy a full single life, attending social functions and sharing happy events with others.

Spiritual Predictors of Healthy Aging

Spiritually connected people tend to fare better as they age. Spiritual commitments and practices, such as daily prayer, meditation, or regular church attendance, help them to maintain a strong sense of personal purpose and meaning in life as well as ongoing appreciation of the beauty and power of nature and its natural rhythms and cycles.

Sexual Predictors of Healthy Aging

Those who age successfully continue to feel joyful and passionate about life. They tend to continue to derive sensual and sexual pleasure, within their own body, in physical and emotional contact with others, and in connection with the natural environment.

The Formula for Healthy Aging seems to include:

o A large supportive social network of family, friends, and neighbors
o A daily spiritual practice and faith in a higher power
o A healthy lifestyle including exercise, nutrition, rest, sleep and play
o An active imagination, intellectual stimulation, and a passion for learning
o Emotional well being, an optimistic outlook, and a good sense of humor
o Passion for life, sensual and sexual aliveness, and appreciation of nature

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A Nussentials Third Party Review – Just Another Health And Wellness MLM?

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If you are looking into the Nussentials MLM opportunity, here is some information that may prove helpful. Nussentials is a true MLM company, meaning it is not some sort of pyramid scheme or other scam. The president is Phil Mims. Mr. Mims has extensive Network Marketing industry experience, having built organizations of hundreds of thousands of people. If your passion is health and wellness, Nussentials is more than just another health and wellness MLM. It is worth a serious look.

It is still a fairly new company. It was started in Texas in 2006. If you are going to be in the health and wellness niche, you need medical credibility. Nussentials has this credibility. Their Medical Advisory Board has some serious credentials, and they are detailed on the website. This medical experience is an excellent marketing tool for Nussentials. You can’t just say your products are healthful. You have to be able to back it up.

Nussentials offers a wide range of products based on all-natural stabilized rice bran. Rice bran is the layer of the grain right under the husk. Most of the rice we eat doesn’t have the bran. 60% of the nutrients in rice are found in the bran. If you have eaten brown rice, it is easy to tell the difference between it and white rice. It’s light brown and has a nutty flavor; it is also chewier. In processing white rice, the bran is made into animal feed and other products. A great deal of natural nutrition is being used for other purposes. Antioxidants, essential fatty acids, B vitamins, Vitamin E with tocotrienols and tocopherols, and much more is lost in this processing. Nussentials makes it available in its products.

Their product line is not a traditional line of vitamins and minerals. With Nussentials everything is based on all natural rice bran. This could be a Unique Selling Proposition, something most MLM businesses lack. The product line includes an energy product called Alert!, a heart healthy cardiovascular fortifier called Cardio!, a weight management product called Less!, plus skin supplements, healthy coffee, a pomegranate drink, and more. The product line seems to be of high quality, and their website shows the science behind the products documented by third parties.

There are multiple income sources with Nussentials. There is upfront bonus income, and the other basic category is residual income. The compensation plan is a variation on the forced matrix. This one is a 3×8. This means that there are only 3 slots available directly under a distributor on the first level. Anyone else you sign up has to go in the organization of one of these three people. This is called “spillover” in MLM comp plan geekspeak. Because of this spillover, you can actually earn money from distributors that are placed below you by people above you. This is a good thing. The 8 in the 3×8 means that the matrix goes down to 8 levels. As with many MLM comp plans, the larger commission rates are down a few levels. With Nussentials you’ll make the highest commission rates in levels 4 and 5. If this puts you off, you probably don’t want to be in a Network Marketing company. Large income earners have organizations much deeper than 4 or 5 levels.

For someone looking at a health and wellness MLM, this all should sound pretty good. But it isn’t enough. A solid, reputable company is very important, but you’ll need more. Your level of success will depend on your ability to attract new reps to you and your business. How do you plan to generate leads when friends and family run out? Answer this question right and you’ll be on your way.

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Aging is Inevitable – Adult Health and Wellness

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Aging is Inevitable

Although aging is inevitable, how we look, feel and cope as we get older, is not. Aging affects each of us at different rates and in different ways. Even within the same individual, each organ and organ system ages differently, influenced by genetics, environment, lifestyle, attitudes, social networks, spiritual connections, and overall health and well being.

In infancy and childhood, we can be fairly accurate in predicting physical growth and development at different ages and stages. But as we age, there is no uniform timetable. Chronological age is notAging is Inevitable

How Do You Know When You Are Old?

Stereotypical Signs of Aging

• You get dizzy when you stand up or bend over

• Your joints and muscles ache all the time

• Your skin is itchy, spotty, wrinkled and dry

• Your body fluctuates between constipation and diarrhea

• You have poor muscle tone, tire easily, and often feel weak

• You are often irritable, grouchy, depressed and generally unhappy

• You can’t remember what you did an hour ago

• You’ve stopped learning or trying new things

The above symptoms are generally considered to be inevitable effects of aging, but these are actually signs of lifestyle deficiencies, injury, and disease.

Physiologic Changes and Aging

Past research about aging has focused on patients suffering from illness and disability, observed in doctors’ offices, clinics or hospital settings. What we have believed about aging, it seems, has been a reflection of the effects of disease process and unhealthy lifestyle. Studies are only beginning to focus on active seniors and the normal aging process.

• Aging is NOT Disease

Physiologic changes that occur with aging do not necessarily cause disability. Aging does not inevitably lead to declining levels of cardiac functioning, bone density, muscular strength, cognitive ability and memory, sexual desire and activity, physical and social functioning, nor does aging insure rising levels of blood pressure, cholesterol and anemia. But aging does decrease the body’s ability to withstand and respond to stress. As we age, we are less able to regulate pulse rate, blood pressure, oxygen consumption, blood glucose, serum sodium, and blood ph levels under stress. Aging leads to greater difficulty reacting to injury and the probability that the stress of injury will lead to acute or chronic illness over time.

• One Percent Rule

From age 30 onward, most organ systems lose roughly one percent of their functioning each year. The percent of loss does not increase as we age.

• Body Organs Age Differently

The physiologic state for any organ in our body is affected by the rate of change that organ has experienced multiplied by the number of years that change has occurred. As we age, changes in one organ does not predict changes in other organs.

• Dementia is NOT Part of Normal Aging

Memory decline with age is common, but does not inevitably lead to dementia which is an illness. Dementia-type symptoms include hearing loss, confusion or disorientation, difficulty performing simple tasks and making every day decisions, as well as changes in mood and loss of interest in life activities.

* Remaining Healthy is Often a Lifestyle Choice

Scientists and wellness experts alike are discovering that we are more than our genetic makeup. We do actually influence our own aging processes through diet, exercise, stress management, rest, sleep, social activity, positive mental thought and spiritual connection. Remaining healthy is often just a lifestyle choice and the choice is yours.

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Wellness International Network (WIN) Home Business Review

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In October 1992, Wellness International Network, Ltd. (WIN) became a reality. WIN’s Founders, Ralph and Cathy Oats saw the potential for the health and wellness industry and knew they could make a positive mark by providing others with a vehicle to achieve total wellness: mentally, physically and financially.

WIN is headquartered in North Dallas’ prestigious Legacy Business Park campus, while its European affiliate, WIN Worldwide BV , is located in Hoofddorp, Netherlands and its South African affiliate, Wellness International Network S.A. (Pty) Limited, is located in Johannesburg, South Africa. Heading into the company’s 16th year of business, Ralph and Cathy’s vision is ever expanding as they build WIN into a billion-dollar business.

The product line includes new protein shake, an omega-3 supplement and a new hair-care collection. Diving into the latest trend, anti-aging, WIN unveiled a skin-care line using the technology to help wipe away the signs of aging.

You can use Wellness International Network’s products with confidence, the product line ranges from products geared to help increase energy, stamina, weight loss and enhance mental function and mood to a complete line of cellular nutritional products, plus skin- and hair-care products.

WIN’s complete nutritional line is listed in the PDR® for Nonprescription Drugs, Dietary Supplements and Herbs. The PDR is distributed to more than 300,000 physicians and healthcare professionals across the United States giving them a comprehensive overview on WIN’s nutritional products.

WIN seems to have some very solid products in their line and their marketing strategy is based on sampling with the Five Step Program. This approach is focused on using and sharing the products and opportunity. With this kind of marketing you have to consume a lot of different products yourself before you can share your experience with others. That’s why people invest a lot af money before they see some results. WIN’s compensation plan is somewhat confusing and hard to understand.

To sum it up, WIN appears to be a legitimate business opportunity. The executive team is experienced in their field and have come up with what appears to be products with mass appeal. As with any business, it takes hard work and dedication to succeed. If you like marketing many different products, maybe this could be something for you. Keep in mind the possible investments of all the different products.

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Create New Fashions and Set Trends in Hair Dressing

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Fashion is a way of life that brings changes and beautiful traditions with it. So much so, more people are fascinated with fashion than with food and cooking. To say that one is hungry is not as bad as saying one is out of style. Hairdressing is an important aspect of fashion. What is it that makes this so important?

Importance of hairstyling

First, one must acknowledge that one’s hair is the best thing about a person. If the hair is not well maintained, neatly trimmed, and oiled, the person will not look attractive. Hair that does not stay in place will make that person look like a hooligan. The unkempt look will draw dirty looks and he will soon be barred from his own social circle.

Due to this, there is a renewed interest among the job seekers of today to become a hairdresser. For one thing, there is no need to invest a huge sum of money to become a successful hairdresser. One only needs a small shop and one will be set for life. One can undergo one of the many Hair Dressing Courses in Delhi and learn the needed skills from the professionals.

Things to learn in hairdressing

By taking this course, you will learn things like the basics of blow drying and volume blow drying techniques. This is needed because it is an important part of hairdressing. The next thing is you learn hair tonging and hair ironing. It will teach you how to straighten hair and set curls in it. This will take barely one week. They also teach you the latest cuts doing fashion trends now. Skills included will be Natural Inversion, Forward Graduation, and Square Layers.

The advanced course will include classic cuts and it takes 10 days. You can do this to lay the best foundation for your hairdressing career. Here the skills taught will include Transient Mid Length and Transient Length Haircut, Graduated Bob, and Transient Bob. They also teach you how to make Short Round Layers. Along with this, you can take the color course that teaches you the root level application of color to hair. You also learn the Global Color Application. This is one of the Best Hairdressing Courses Delhi.

Learn hair styling methods

Students learn safety methods in haircutting and styling. They are taught how to choose a product as per the nature of a person’s hair. The practical experience in hair waving and chemical straightening will be of immense importance for them. With step by step instructions, the students learn through actual practice how to implement the latest methods and use the latest styles in hairdressing.

It is important to fast track your career in the hairdressing business. Learning how to create highlights in the hair and achieving color corrections help students make a new path for themselves. Your tutor will instruct you personally on how to make changes needed to make a person’s hair fall in line with the latest trend. Advanced techniques like thermal straightening, wet hairstyling, and thermal curling are also taught. This will help one become a master in this art.

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Stick to a Wellness Program by Developing Your Grit

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What is it that pushes us to achieve our wildest and most improbable goals? Grit, defined by Angela Duckworth and her colleagues, is the combination of perseverance and passion for important life goals. Leaders in art, medicine, law, journalism and other fields have it. More important than the diet, exercise plan or yoga class you choose, is staying with it. Developing your grit will help you stick to your wellness program, even in the face of setbacks.

Here are some suggestions for getting more gritty.

* Find your passion. Before picking a diet or exercise plan, read, study and experiment. Nutritionists, personal trainers and other experts are good sources of information. Like to work out with a buddy? Find one. Can’t live without pasta? There are diets out there that include it. You’ll have to try different approaches until you identify something you can enthusiastically embrace. Enjoying your plan will help you stick to it.

* Emulate successful models. Talk to people who maintain a healthy lifestyle. Their success can be inspiring. Try to learn not only what they do, but how they stick to it. Some swear by the first-thing-in-the-morning, get-a start-on-the-day workout. Others prefer the structure of a class. Use only those strategies that you can be positive about and that fit with your lifestyle and preferences.

* Dedicate yourself. Dedication to a goal involves a combination of unwavering commitment and persistence to the goal over time. If you decide you’re going to walk daily or three times a week, make it happen. If eating yoghurt and fruit for lunch every day and sleeping at least 8 hours a night works, keep doing it. If you’re a novelty freak, change it up, as long as you dedicate to the overarching goal.

* Learn from setbacks. There’s no need to dwell on possibilities for failure, but don’t be surprised by setbacks. Face problems squarely and use them productively to modify your approach. Injure yourself biking or find your meditation class cancelled? Rehab, rest or substitute other activities, but don’t give up the changes you’ve already made. Using your setbacks as opportunities for growth will keep you optimistic.

* Run the marathon, not the sprint. When you start to fatigue, get bored or encounter obstacles, it’s not time to quit. If your schedule changes and you can’t get to the gym lunchtime, decide when you can get there. Don’t overdo it, but do keep it interesting. Challenge yourself by gradually raising the bar. Remember you’re in it for the long haul.

Once you reach your goals, use the grit you’ve developed to maintain your gains. A gritty approach to maintaining your program will give you a lifetime of wellness.

Copyright, 2010 Judith Tutin, Ph.D.

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Would You Dare Swallow a Hair Strand, Even in Your Favorite Soup?

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Sometimes you may find a strand of hair in your soup and just decide to overlook it and swallow it together with the soup. A single hair strand is not really dangerous as it is very small and the highest possibility is that it will just pass through the digestive tract. However, the hair poses a danger when it forms a clump, which would eventually form a giant hairball in your stomach necessitating the need to see a doctor. So, what happens when you swallow hair?

Some species of bacteria may try acting on the hair, leading to stomach upsets and/or diarrhea. This scenario is, however, very unlikely.

Hair is densely packed with a protein called keratin which has a very fibrous structure. Keratin requires long exposure to extreme acidic or alkaline conditions and temperatures way above 100 degree Celsius in order to break down. The human digestive system, however, cannot contain such conditions, making it impossible for humans to break keratin down. Most hair just passes through the digestive tract alongside other materials that cannot be digested and they are eliminated in the feces. You can therefore take chances if it is only a single hair strand. However, keep in mind that too many hair strands may eventually clump up and get stuck in the stomach.

Swallowing hair is a scenario that is also very common in cats. Like humans, cats also cannot digest hair, which is fur in their case. The hair that does not make it out of their digestive system builds up in their stomach forming a firm dense hair ball, also known as a trichobezoar. Most cats eventually get to vomit the hair balls before situation gets too bad.

Humans also begin developing hair balls when they eat a lot of hair. This sometimes happens to people suffering from trichophagia, a unique disorder of eating hair. Unlike cats, humans do not vomit their hair balls. Instead, the hair just sits in the stomach, obstructing the normal functioning of the digestive system. Eating hair can greatly alter the functioning of the liver and pancreas.

Some symptoms of trichobezoars in humans include:

Vomiting

Nausea

Appearance of hair and/or blood in the stool

Poor appetite

Foul breath

Constipation

Bowel obstruction

Excessive gas

Bowel perforation

Excessive weight loss.

In extreme cases, a strand of hair ball can reach down the small intestines, a condition commonly known as Rapunzel Syndrome. The doctor can feel the hair ball by gently pushing the in the left upper and mid parts of the patients abdomen.

The hair balls can also be diagnosed using gastrointestinal X-rays, using ultrasound or looking into the patient’s stomach using an endoscope. Removal of this hair necessitates a major surgery where the doctor opens up the digestive track then pulls out the hair.

Considering all these things, you eventually realize it is not worth overlooking that single hair strand because as harmless as it may seem, it may cost you a lot. It is therefore important to avoid mistakes that can be very costly. As they say; ”to be safe is better than to be sorry.”

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The Planet Pluto, the Human Body, the NWI and Understanding the REAL Dimensions of Wellness

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Introduction

The initial title of this essay was, What Is the Relevance of the Planet Pluto, Carl Linnaeus, the Human Body, and the National Wellness Institute (NWI) Six Dimension Wellness Model for the Fate of the Wellness Movement? I was prepared to address this riveting question that puzzled no one on which I believe the movement hovers between eventual ruin and immediate acclaim.

My editor, however, would have none of it. Thus, the shorter title.

Pluto, the Human Body and NWI’s Six Dimensions

Pluto was recognized as the outermost planet in our solar system for a century before the International Astronomical Union (IAU) demoted it a few years ago. Astronomers decided Pluto does not dominate the neighborhood around its orbit, one of the three criteria that must be met for a planet to be considered as such. Now it’s officially a dwarf planet.

Bye bye planet Pluto.

The human body has three main parts (head, trunk and limbs), 12 systems (cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, lymphatic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, respiratory, skeletal and urinary) and 78 organs. (I’m not going to list the latter – it would consume too much space and besides, this is a family wellness report.)

It may be that the human body has other parts, yet to be discovered. We should keep an open mind. Who knew Pluto would get the kibosh, in time, back in the day when Percival Lowell was acclaimed for spotting this icy dwarf rock in 1905. There it was, way the hell out there, perhaps struggling mightily to dominate the neighborhood of its orbit. Yet, a revision of the planet’s status did occur. New discoveries are always been made; the human body might be next. Why should we think that all 12 systems and 78 organs are all we’ve got? Maybe there’s another part of us that has been overlooked, besides the head, trunk and limbs.

Once again, we are reminded: Keep an open mind.

Which brings me to the six dimension model of the NWI.

Criteria for Dimensions of Wellness

A dimension of wellness should identify and illuminate the broad elements, principles or requirements of a consistent philosophy or concept of living (i.e., lifestyle).

A dimension of wellness should draw a picture of what is entailed by this unique positive mindset that promotes wellbeing.

Used as a noun, a dimension in the English language refers to the property of a thing, as in the concept of wellness as a philosophy or lifestyle having x number of characteristics. The generalization of this property as having dimensions would apply to elements that it entails, such as exercise, nutrition or management of stress or emotions. Used as a verb with an object, a dimension can shape an idea or mode of functioning to fit and contain the elements pursuing specific outcomes, such as high levels of physical and mental wellbeing.

The six dimensions that NWI claims as expressive dimensions of the wellness concept do not serve such purposes. They are not dimensions. They are generic terms for sectors of life. I refer to the misnamed sectors NWI calls occupational and intellectual dimensions of wellness.

The other four (physical, social, intellectual and spiritual), as employed by NWI, also lack descriptive elements distinguishing wellness mindsets from the norm of just slogging along in these four areas. The NWI provides no standards or descriptive language that associates lifestyle behaviors or levels of functioning that enable optimal functioning in any of the separate categories (i.e., faux dimensions).

The NWI model has been widely adopted by institutions, organizations and practitioners who employ the term wellness. Some have added two other categories as dimensions – environmental and financial. These have the same deficiencies noted above in the NWI model. Sometimes, gobbledegook is tossed into the mix, as in the NWI declaration that the six dimensions derive their resources and services from this model. (No, I don’t know what that means.)

The value of any model depends upon how wellness is defined. NWI goes with this: Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.

Even someone with a dreadful lifestyle could claim wellness as the active process by which he/she has created a successful existence. Nothing in this definition or the six/eight model of the concept addresses the nature of a successful existence. Lots of overweight, sedentary, stressed out people with dreadful addictions think they have a successful existence, especially if they’re rich and powerful enough to lord it over others. Absent clear standards of a wellness lifestyle, people can delude themselves into thinking their choices are healthful and optimal. Yet, few observers would consider them healthy, or thriving in any positive sense of the word.

One way I’ve been unsuccessful (besides not amassing riches or having anyone I can (or want to) lord it over is in having failed to get out ahead of the pack with an easily understood explanation of wellness and, perhaps, the suggested nature of a successful existence. Of course, I offered definitions of wellness and success in High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs and Disease in 1977 and other books since, as well as speeches, newsletters and so on, but evidently I didn’t nail it sufficiently for the majority who adopted the NWI list of six dimensions.

Maybe this wasn’t possible — I’m not sure.

However, the fact that the NWI model of sector dimensions is still out there doesn’t mean I and others interested in promoting wellbeing should not promote clearer, more functional frameworks.

It’s time for all good men and women to come to the aide of the wellness concept. It’s time to challenge an archaic, dysfunctional 1980-era model. There are many possibilities for dimensions of wellness that could inform the ingredients contained within the wellness concept. Try to remember that wellness is not a product, nor is it a service. It’s a positive lifestyle that can be abetted by products or services, but wellness is always a process of functioning that individuals shape, control and manage for themselves. Each person must be the sovereign of his or her own wellbeing.

REAL wellness is a philosophy, a mindset, a set of ideas and principles consistent with embracing life in a positive manner. This is not complicated.

REAL wellness should encourage and guide people to think and function rationally, to live exuberantly, to maintain physical fitness, to dine wisely consistent with factual nutritional knowledge and to live as freely as possible. The latter means becoming liberated from cultural or circumstantial elements such as superstitions, irrational dogmas and other mental and social limitations that add constraints on personal liberties.

The four dimensions of REAL wellness are reason, exuberance, athleticism (exercise and nutrition) and liberty. Thus, the acronym R-E-A-L.

A rendition of a continuum for each dimensions illustrates the characteristics of each of the four dimensions, and the characteristics that obtain when these qualities are totally absent. (If interested, please send a request to the author and an attachment containing this morel will be electronically sent to you.)

Not to Overlook Carl Linnaeus

You might recall that Carl Linnaeus was initially included in the original long–form title of this essay, positioned between Pluto and the human body. However, due to the wordy nature of that preliminary title for this essay, the polymath Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician, the father of modern taxonomy, was cruelly edited out by my lovely editor (AKA my wife Carol).

Nevertheless, I’ll end this by giving the Great Man his due. Long long ago, way back in the 18th century, Linnaeus published a system for classifying living things. He commenced this historic undertaking by introducing just two classes of things, which he called kingdoms. The two classes were animals and plants. If he lived today, he probably would have called his classification the Dimensions of Living Things.

I do not believe he would be offended or surprised to discover that, in the modern world, there are eight levels of hierarchical classification — Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. Instead, he would probably delight and take pride in the evolution of knowledge which he inspired.

And so it is, I hope, with NWI and others who started out with good intentions and sparked new models over time. At least, I hope that will be the case.

Bonne chance, everyone.

Postscript

Experts on wellness models were asked to comment on this essay. Their remarks follow.

Bill Hettler, Minneapolis, MN

Just as in any healthy living ecology, diversity is a positive.

I am OK with your reductionistic four dimensions. But, as you know, I have always been a Y guy and thus am also OK with the YMCA’s Body, Mind and Spirit.

And, I always remember our friend and colleague Robert F. Allen who reminded us that the best wellness model is the one you actually use.

The six dimensions, which I originally wrote, were based on the written materials of many. I was mainly focusing on how people allocated their time. My selection of six dimensions (as an optimal number) was heavily influenced by my desire to have an easy way to show these dimensions in a two-dimensional drawing. You might remember that damn Ardell guy had five dimensions at one point, and I could not for the life of me easily draw pentagons. I actually played around with a three-dimensional model (I am talking drawing type here, not a mere three wellness dimensions) that was an equilateral tetrahedron.

As you recall, my original social dimension included environmental issues. Each dimension is easily expanded or contracted as best suits the purpose of the users.

Each dimension was focused on how much time people spent on activities related to that particular topic. I had an unproven bias that the more balanced one was in the allocation of their time (and therefore their life), the more likely their chances for a long and enjoyable existence.

From a programming standpoint, as pointed out by Rod Lees (below), we noticed that we might be able to interest people in activities in one area more easily than another. By intention, we also tried to promote cross referrals from one area of participation to another.

Be well Don — and keep up the good work of making people think. (That could be part of the Intellectual dimension, if one believed in that sort of thing.)

John Travis, Novato, CA

Yeah, I agree – -they ain’t really dimensions, but categories. And there’s no real philosophy. However, I can’t get very excited about it because the very word wellness has been too dumbed down, with little hope of reversing it. I admire your diligence to keep hammering away at it tho.

Your pessimistic curmudgeon friend.

Rod Lees, Noosa, Australia

I remember hearing a discussion from the academics at university here in Queensland about the differences between wellbeing and wellness. Someone even wrote an academic paper on the topic. I told them that I didn’t care what they called it. It was all about the thought process, the application and the doing.

In my presentation days, I would talk about REAL wellness and also teach the 6-8 dimensions. I did find that for those who were wanting to develop programs for staff, the multiple dimensions seemed to fit well. They could plan activities around each dimension.

So, in the end, I don’t have an opinion as to which is better. Both have value and I think that both should be used and individuals can pick up on the one that speaks to them the most. Or, as I’m guessing you might say, use REAL wellness dimensions when addressing personal lifestyles, and the NWI-like sector models for corporate or other programming.

Derek Bell, Stevens Point, WI

Ha! Love it. I think it’s a good time to assess the value of traditional wellness models. I respect those who have moved away from models like NWI’s, as well as dated pie charts which suggest equal dimensions wherein balance is the key.

I like the position you’ve taken. We need to frame wellness more by human needs and values-based thinking, less by seeking a perfect balance. Your continuum for lifestyle dimensions makes much more sense to me. Keep up the good work! The establishment needs some rattling.

Judd Allen, Burlington, VT

Thank you for sharing your concern that wellness is frequently used without adequate definition. I agree that a good definition would recognize that personal wellness requires optimizing the benefits of a multi-dimensional life.

You have your list of four dimensions and the National Wellness Institute has adopted Bill Hettler’s six dimensions. The YMCA goes with mind, body and spirit. We all define dimensions of wellness in accord with our visions, language and settings. Wellness is a full-potentials movement with multi-dimensional life perspectives. All the models recognize that a healthy, satisfying lifestyle requires so much more than fitness, such as traits of mental wellbeing, the presence of good works and time spent with good friends. Wellness is only possible when we have many such great resources in abundance.

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