Dr Ron Ehrlich – The Mission Statement for Unstress

Welcome to the foundation episode of the Unstress podcast. Here you will find my mission statement and what I am trying to achieve.

As you may know, I’ve written a book called A Life Less Stressed: The Five Pillars of Health and Wellness. The book is what I describe as an exploration of the 5 stresses in life that can compromise our health; emotional, environmental, nutritional, postural and dental. I also explore the 5 pillars of health that can build resilience; sleep, breathe, nutrition, movement and thought. I call it an exploration because it such a huge topic that I’m not even going to pretend it’s a complete guide.

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Once something is written, it’s written. The idea of the podcast is that if I can expand on any topic, explore it in more detail and talk to world leaders and ask them some questions, then that’s what the podcast is all about.

I also want to explore the role of the chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries in all levels of health, from government policy and regulatory bodies, professional health associations, public health messages right to the ‘coal face’ of the doctor’s surgery. Exploring why public health messages are so confusing and often contradictory….it’s a story that is easy to miss but difficult to ignore.

Ultimately the Unstress with Dr Ron Ehrlich is a podcast to empower you to take control, build resilience and be the best you can be.

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Dr. Ron Ehrlich: Hello and welcome to Unstress, the podcast. Yes, this is the mission statement. My name’s Dr. Ron Ehrlich. I welcome you to the podcast. I wanted you to get an idea of what this is all about and why we’re doing it. As you may know, I’ve written a book called A Life Less Stressed: The Five Pillars of Health and Wellness. The book is what I describe as an exploration of the stresses in life that can break us down and the pillars of health that can build us up. I call it an exploration because it’s such a huge topic that I’m not even going to pretend it’s a complete guide. The idea of the podcast, of course, is that once something is written, it’s written. If I wanted to expand on a point, explore it in more detail, talk to other people, world leaders, then I want to flesh out these topics, and that’s what the podcast is all about. Let me tell you a little bit about the book, and that in turn will give you an idea of the structure or some of the topics we’re going to cover in the podcast.

The book is divided up into three sections. Part one is really about understanding public health messages, and I explore what holistic actually means. I am a holistic dentist. The most common question I am asked is, what is a holistic dentist? How does that differ? I simply say dentists focus primarily on the oral cavity, but as a holistic dentist I also realize that there’s a whole person attached to the oral cavity. That whole person has a digestive system, has a respiratory system, has a nervous system, has a whole lot of other systems. I need to respect those and understand how their oral health impacts on their general health, and how their general health impacts on their oral health, and what other factors are affecting their health.

I really want to explore in the book and in the podcast series the idea of what holistic actually means. It’s not some new age philosophy. It’s not some kind of crazy new alternative. Holistic is the way the body works. It’s the way the world works. The sooner we become holistic citizens, holistic thinkers about our own body and our own health and the relationship that that has to the rest of the world is a better thing. Holistic is one thing. I share a personal journey, which actually, here’s a story. If you want to do something stressful, write a book. If you want to do something even more stressful, write a book about stress. If you want to do something even more stressful, then get a diagnosis of prostate cancer while you’re doing that. That’s exactly what happened to me.

It didn’t come as a great surprise because the statistics are somewhat disturbing, and that is one in two men and one in three women will contract cancer by the age of 60 or 65. If that statistic shocks you, I think you probably haven’t been paying very close attention to what is going on in the world, and the environment, and the food that we’re eating, and the stresses we’re putting ourselves under. It wasn’t a shock to me. When I also factored in my family history, and it gave me a whole new respect for family history. I hope you have a healthy respect for it as well because family history does count for something. It’s our little alarm bells that should be going off, not to say, “This is what’s going to happen to me,” but to say, “Hey, maybe I need to take control of my own health to make sure it doesn’t happen to me.” There’s a whole personal journey that I go through there.

Then while I’m on the topic, when we’re trying to make sense of these confusing and contradictory public health messages that we are constantly bombarded with, I think we need to be aware of the role of the food and pharmaceutical industry in all levels of health care. I’m talking about from government regulatory bodies, government policy regulatory bodies, professional organizations, right down into doctors and health practitioners’ practices. As they try to find out what evidence-based medicine is really about, they may not be able to see that actually what’s going on often is evidence-based marketing. I like to explore those themes. I think it’s a story that’s really easy to miss, but it’s a story once you’ve heard of it that’s really difficult to ignore. For me personally, the message is not to throw your arms up in despair and think, “What the hell?” It’s to say your own health is just too important to rely on anybody else.

When it comes to medical crisis, hey, I’ve been there. Believe me, I’ve been there, and I’ve taken advantage of all that Western medicine has to offer, and it’s fantastic. There are members of my family. I go into it in the book, and there are other stories where it’s literally been lifesaving. I don’t need convincing about how great Western medicine is. It is amazing, and there are some amazing people doing amazing things. That’s not the issue. The issue is that our health system has become a chronic disease management system. While that may be a great economic model, it’s just not a very good health model. Heart disease is still number one. Cancer is number two. Actually, number three is deaths by prescription medication. That is prescription medication taken as prescribed. We will explore these themes in our podcast, and I explore them in my book. There are over 80 autoimmune conditions. That is the body attacking itself. What the hell is going on here? That’s become a big killer.

Diabetes, out of control. It’s an epidemic. It seems like the food pyramid that was endorsed by the Heart Foundation and the Diabetes Association in the mid ’90s, if evidence is anything to go on since that food pyramid was endorsed so publicly by all authorities, all of that, diabetes has gone through the roof and obesity is a major problem. We’ve still got cancer and people saying, “Well, cancer is because we’re getting older.” Sorry, statistics don’t tell us that. Even allowing for age, the incidence of cancer is going up somewhere between 25% to 30%. That is a major issue. The questions, when I hear about the body attacking itself and cancer going through the roof, is there anyone out there listening who hasn’t had somebody close to them, be they a member of a family, themselves, or a friend who has contracted cancer. What the hell is going on out there? That’s something I want to explore in this podcast.

The second part of the book is stress. These are the stresses that I believe can break us down. Everyone is affected by stress today, but what do we actually mean by it? Listen, if we’re going to solve a problem, we have to know what that problem is. Look, I am a clinician. I have been in my own practice for now going onto 37 years. I see patients all the time. I’ve had the privilege of treating patients for many, many years, and some of them have been with me for all of that time. Some of them I’ve watched grow up, and many I’ve watched grow old. The book that I’ve written, in fact, was what I would’ve loved to have a conversation with every single patient, and the podcast is an opportunity to have an even deeper conversation with those patients. Everybody apparently is affected by stress. When I’ve told people I’ve written a book called A Life Less Stressed, everybody says, “Oh, I’ve got to read that book.” Personally, I hope they do. I also have to remind them that the book is not autobiographical. It’s definitely not autobiographical. In fact, I describe it as aspirational, now more than ever given my health. By the way, I’m doing very well at the moment, and so that is a great relief.

Back to stress. Since 1983 really, I have defined stress as a combination of emotional, nutritional, environmental, postural, and dental stress. Most people would acknowledge the emotional stress. Most people would also recognize that nutritionally if you’re not eating well, that can stress your body. Environmental stress is something we’re going to focus a hell of a lot on because it’s, again, easy to miss, difficult to ignore. Postural stress, sitting is the new smoking, folks, how we carry ourselves, whether we spend so much time sitting, whether our head is tilted down looking at our laptops, at our phones, what effect that has, even our sleeping position. Postural stress is something we look at.

Then of course dental stress. We are going to explore dental stress. I’ve included that in my book, and I will include these topics in my podcast. You may not think of dental stress, but I’ve written that and I’m including it for anybody who is listening that has a mouth, and that is interested in their health, and has never fully connected the two. To fully connect the two, we’ll be exploring topics like digestion, breathing, sleeping, posture, the two most common chronic infections and chronic inflammations occur in the mouth, chronic pain, chronic headaches, neck and jaw pain. Yes, it’s the mouth, oral health has something to do with all of those things. That’s why I’ve included that. That is another part that I’m going to explore. They are those stresses.

One of the environmental stressors that I’ve particularly interested in is our relationship with soil. That cuts across nutritional and environmental stress, I might add. The fact that, hey look, the last 30 or 40 years, let’s face it, this period of economic rationalism where the market has dictated and we’ve all been encouraged to be great consumers, and food is supposedly cheap, and there’s processed food coming at us left, right, and center, convenience food and all of that, we’ve lost sight with what’s important. If we don’t think farming and soils are important, if you think that food is only important to the point that it’s put right in front of you, think again.

I’ve got some great programs, some great people coming up. We’re going to be talking to people at all levels of farming, and soils. I believe the coming century really should be, if the 20th century right up until the GFC was a period where financiers, and law, and takeovers, and share markets, and all of that was the most revered element of our society, I’d like to think that the coming century or this century is going to be one of the revered farmer. The bottom line is the health of the individual and the planet are what drives us. We’ve been through this period of economic rationalism. I’d like to think that we’re entering into a period now of planning rationalism where the health of the individual, the health of communities, and the health of the planet are the key, and the finance that goes with that is literally the bottom line. That’s the theme I want to explore in the stresses of life that can break us down.

Then of course part three of my book and a focus for our podcast will also be the five pillars of health. That’s all about taking control of your own health. I really wanted to call this part Simply Be Well, and I do call my wellness program Simply Be Well because while the problems we face may well be complicated and becoming more complicated, ironically I think the solutions are remarkably simple. The first pillar I focus on is sleep, and that is the cornerstone of any wellness journey. The second pillar is breathing because if you’re not breathing well particularly while you’re asleep, that’s a problem, too. The third pillar is nutrition is obvious, the fourth is movement, and the final one is thought. We’re going to be exploring all of those themes.

As well as that, I’m going to be exploring all of those autoimmune conditions that I’ve mentioned. Men’s health is particularly a passion, and we’re also going to be exploring women’s health. Women are such an important part of everyone’s life and my life in particular with two daughters who are in the childbearing ages and two son-in-law’s who are in their 30s as well. Men’s health, women’s health, children’s health, preconception health, all fascinating, all interesting, all stuff that we’re going to be exploring.

I just wanted to do this first podcast to give you an idea of the mission statement. The mission statement is really to encourage you to understand where some of these issues are, where the problems are, and to understand that taking control of your own health is not complicated, that it can make a huge difference. The story is about building resilience, building mental, physical, and emotional resilience. To fulfil our potential in life, we need to do and to be as well as we can possibly be. I hope you enjoy the podcast series. I also enjoy looking at the politics of health. We’ll be on the Facebook page reviewing a lot of newspaper and other articles. I really want feedback, so get on the Facebook page, make suggestions about what you’d like to hear about, and let us know if you are enjoying the podcast, obviously, and let us know how we can improve it. Until next time, this is Dr. Ron Ehrlich. Be well.

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