Is Health a War?

By joeylott / February 7, 2017

The metaphors and stories we are immersed in can have sometimes profound effects on us.

I’ve noticed that the dominant metaphor for health in the mainstream (and much of the alternative) culture is one of war.

Much of disease is said to be caused by infectious organisms.

Sufferers of disease are often called warriors.

We’re told that we’re winning or losing the wars on cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.

We’re told to include various superfoods, nutrients, drugs, exercises, and lifestyle modifications in our “arsenals” against disease.

But here’s my question: are we sure that health is a war?

I’m not.

And I question these metaphors and stories and beliefs in my own life.

I don’t try to “combat” them with inverted beliefs, mind you. I don’t insist, blindly, that the opposite is true.

I just question. I just look. I am curious.

And I’m particularly curious what happens when I begin to act without so much influence from those stories.

Case in point. I became sick with what I’ve called Lyme disease in 2010.

I lived in the woods in New Hampshire. Literally sleeping on the ground outside. And I pulled ticks off of me multiple times every day.

This went on for months.

Then I had all the classic symptoms of Lyme disease. Sudden-onset and severe fever. Bulls-eye rash. Migrating joint swelling and pain for months. Later neurological and cognitive symptoms, fatigue, and on and on.

It’s easiest to call it Lyme disease. So I call it that.

And it seems reasonable that micro-organisms of various sorts (borrelia, protozoa, parasites, etc.) play a role in producing symptoms.

But are they the cause or merely agents? Or if they are the cause, are they capable of producing disease without proper conditions?

In other words, might viewing these organisms as the sole cause of the disease symptoms be myopic? Might the war metaphor be misguided or at the very least an incomplete understanding of the situation?

Again, I’m not suggesting that I know the answers to these questions or that they need to be answered. I am just saying that asking these questions and liberating myself from the limited mindset of the mainstream beliefs is, in and of itself, beneficial (to me).


Despite the fact that I have tried a lot of war-based things over the years, I have gotten the most significant symptom relief through nourishment.

I am not trying to set up a false dichotomy. I am not suggesting that, for example, nourishment and antibiotics can’t be used simultaneously.

I’m just stating that in my experience, I have received the greatest benefit personally from nourishment. In other words, adequate nutrition (including calories), adequate sleep, adequate rest, adequate time outdoors, nourishing relationships, nourishing activities (stuff I enjoy or enjoying what I do), etc.

I see the war metaphor crop up in a lot of ways in a lot of health-related stuff. Depending on who you listen to, grain is the enemy, sugar is the enemy, polyunsaturated fat is the enemy (I’ve been guilty of perpetuating this idea), fiber is the enemy, histamine is the enemy, dairy is the enemy, yeast is the enemy, meat is the enemy, and on and on.



In some cases, of course, this view may have some benefits for some people.

But to the degree that the war metaphor is not the whole answer for your perceived problems, consider questioning the story. Explore nourishment. Open your mind.

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