Holistic Context: Regulatory Impact on Health

This week on the Unstress, we talked about Building Biology. It is a science that studies the health hazards of the built environment, and something I believe we should all be engaged in.

In this week’s Healthy Bite, I get to reflect and discuss all the different stressors that affect our health, and recognizing the 'whole' person and environment in disease prevention and cure may be the key to some diagnoses.

The Importance of a Holistic Context

In this week’s episode, we touched on building biology and had the very wonderful who I always enjoyed talking to, Nicole Bijlsma, to share her wisdom. 

Issues we face in our modern world

Something that I believe we should all be engaged in. It reminded me of a very stark example of some of the issues I think we face in our modern world. There were two stories many years ago, well, probably not that many years ago, that I read within a six month period of each other, and it was really disturbing.

One of them was in the UK, the Home Secretary, talking about how the conservative government has successfully cut red tape and that now reduced building standards, building approvals to very short one or two-day periods, which had previously taken weeks and sometimes months to get approval for. They were very proud, very proud of how they had cut the red tape and streamlined it, made it easier for the industry to get on with the job, building houses and probably, well, building houses and whatever goes with that.

Then six months later, the Grenfell disaster occurred. This was a disaster that occurred in central London in the Chelsea Westminster area of a tower block that was basically low-cost housing, which had been clad with the inflammable material. So that when a unit somewhere in this, I think it was 15 or 20-metre storey block, caught fire, the whole thing went up in an incredibly quick rate and killed over 80 people. 

It stood in the middle of Chelsea and Westminster, which is a pretty trendy suburb, as a monument for about a year. I think they did actually drape it in the end, but it was quite a shocking juxtaposition of two stories that actually encapsulate a lot of what we all experience. 

The regulations that are sometimes designed to streamline the process, which is good for developers, it’s good for selling more properties, it’s good for getting on with renovations, but it may not be the best for our health. That was the starkest reminder of what building regulations are all about.

Now, thankfully, that kind of disaster hasn’t occurred in Australia. But what we are seeing unfolding in northern New South Wales and in southern Queensland is the inundation of houses up to the roofs that sometimes these are ten, 14-metre floods which completely cover a two-storey house. We see images of people stuck on the roof of their houses trying to escape the floodwaters. This raises so many issues about what regulations allowed housing to be built on floodplains. 

It’s a similar story. I mean, I think the number of deaths that occurred in the floods in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland ran into about 20 or 30. And the tragedy of that, not let alone the destruction of houses and livelihoods, is really a tragedy, and I feel for those people.

My focus here is that building regulations have been so watered down that people are put in vulnerable positions. This is by no means a new story. I mean, when we look at medical regulations, for example, in the FDA or here in Australia, the TGA, which are largely industry-funded, industry-sponsored bodies, we want to cut red tape. 

This is all about a market-driven economy. This is all about letting the market dictate, cutting red tape, and cutting regulations. It’s nothing but a bother, isn’t it, really? Well, actually, no, it’s not. It’s about if regulations are properly regulated. It’s about protecting human and environmental health.

This takes me back to a podcast that I did two or three years ago with one of my all-time heroes, and that is Allan Savory, who said that a holistic context should sit above every decision that is made. The holistic context that I would propose is “What does this decision adversely impact human or environmental health?” How’s that for a holistic context? 

If every decision that was ever made by government, industry, business, health care practitioners, builders, you name it, the holistic context was “How is what I am going to do going to impact human and environmental health?”.

I think that’s a holistic context that we should all be aspiring to because we are clearly being let down so badly by regulatory bodies. We used to think of media news outlets as the fourth estate. They would protect us by uncovering illegal or immoral practices. Well, we now know, as we have followed through in this pandemic, that these formerly called news services and perhaps I was always a little bit naive. I always did refer to certain organisations as news organisations. 

I realise now they are media outlets, and the narrative is a word that more describes the news than the news itself. Investigative journalist journalism is really a dying art, sadly, because the bottom line is we need to click. We need to sell. We need to stay alive. I understand that. I think our regulatory bodies, our news services, our human health, and our environmental health suffers because of it. This is all about regulation and becoming aware. 

Unstress Podcast

Where does that leave us as individuals? Well, this is what the Unstress podcast is all about. This is what the Unstress programme is all about, and that is about empowering individuals with information to convert confusion to clarity and information to knowledge. Knowledge comes with power. You can, in a way, sift through what is really just PR and spin. 

I know when I published my own book. Here’s a little bit of an insight to put this in perspective for you. When I published my book, I had a publicist work with me for a few six months, and I ended up getting very, quite a few articles in various news media and papers, which was great, very exciting and all of that. But it prompted me to ask the PR agency. 

When do you look at the newspaper, how much of the newspaper is PR and stories from PR agencies working for various industries, etc.? They said to me that they thought the first 20 or so pages of a newspaper, probably 70% of that was PR or spin.

That kind of surprised me a little bit, and it made me realise that really what I’ve read in the newspaper in the past and when I know what I’m a real expert about is, is oral health. When I read about oral health, sometimes in newspapers, it isn’t always what I think it should be. 

For things like economics and military and politics and military and things like that, I wonder, well, that’s not something I know a huge amount about. I wonder how much of that is just PR and spin. Where does that leave us as individuals? I think we need to equip ourselves with some basic knowledge, which is why I think learning from the past, and lessons from the past are so important.

For example, when you talk about confusing and contradictory, nutritional advice and health advice are often so confusing. It’s sobering to know that, or it’s important to realise that both food and health care have become commodities, and that is important. That’s an important point to remember because if something is a commodity and it’s profit-driven, then it’s open to a great deal of PR and spin. 

When health becomes a commodity, then it’s open to forces that are profit-driven. We’ve seen this through the pandemic. To any regular listener, I would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to go back and listen to the Healthy Bites about my… I think I’m up to the 10 Ps of the pandemic because, really, that’s what this pandemic has been about, driven by profit, patents, power, politics, peer pressure, professors, and psychosis. Yes, that does start with P. And then, of course, there is public health. But I’m sad to say that I think public health is a long way down the list. 

We need to equip ourselves with information, and that is basic information about the human body and how it works. The built environment is an important part of that human experience. Unfortunately, the built environment and I’ve built my own home, and we’ve done renovations on my own home. 

In this week’s episode, Nicole talks about bathroom renovations. I just thought I knew, well, we did. Actually, we did have a minute’s silence, but I knew I should have because had I been a lot more aware of what I should have been, I would have done it slightly differently. But it raises all sorts of challenges, and that doesn’t disempower us. It means to solve a problem. We need to reduce the load on our system.

Stress is a problem and stress in all its forms – emotional, nutritional, postural, dental stress, and environmental stress. It’s sobering to know that the majority of environmental stressors are not out there on air pollution and ocean and beach pollution. The majority of stressors occur in your own home. 

While you may be concerned about climate change, and we all are, and you may be concerned about pollution, and we all should be. What it’s important to realise is that by making informed decisions, you can reduce your and your family’s environmental stressors by up to 80 or 90%. 

That’s why this week’s episode is so important for each and every one of us and certainly important if you’re a health practitioner. If you’re a person interested in your health, which is exactly why you’re listening to this podcast, you need to take this seriously as well. 

I just thought I’d give you a little bit of background as to this week’s episode with Nicole Bijlsma, raise the bigger questions of how regulations impact our health and encourage you to explore some of the wonderful resources we have on our Unstress site, which will soon be re-launched in the Holistic Health Institute and invite you to join that community and be part of that journey of a holistic approach to of the holistic context to your journey through life in this complicated world. 

As often said, while the world we live in becomes more complex, it is truly my belief that the solutions are remarkably simple, accessible, cheap, and effective. Importantly. I hope this finds you well. Until next time. 


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, they should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests in this podcast express their opinions, experiences, and conclusions.