This section is from the "Impaired Health: Its Cause And Cure" (Volume 1) book, by John H. Tilden. Also available from Amazon: Impaired health its cause and cure: A repudiation of the conventional treatment of disease
As soon as a cell is born it begins to die. Man's body is made up of cells, and his continuance in life depends entirely upon cell renewal and cell integrity.
The cell is in an ideal state only at the instant of completion; then it begins to wear out. Man's body during his fetal life is in as near a state of equilibrium as is possible; for the temperature of the mother's body is maintained at about ninety-nine degrees F., and his life is carried on by proxy, so to speak. When born, he is subjected sooner or later to all the influences of his environment.
Health is an abstract idea. It cannot be well defined, for it necessarily must vary from birth to the grave.
Living organisms never more than approach a state of equilibrium. Indeed, no man would accept life if he could be guaranteed equilibrium; for that would be a neutral state devoid of experience, consequently with no knowledge. He could not enjoy; he could not love; he could not hate; he could not eat; he could not lose his temper; he could not be happy; he could not have friends or enemies; all of which are necessary to his development.
All man's pleasures and displeasures--happiness and unhappiness--come from the varying of his environment. Through attention, thought, and reflection on these influences is he educated. Man too often goes through life giving no attention whatever to the influences, from a health standpoint, of these various shocks to his nervous system. Indeed, very few recognize the sense of pleasure as a shock, and that evil can come from it. Just a few of the people are beginning to realize that taking food into the system is a shock, notwithstanding the fact that it is a pleasure to take it into the system, and a necessity from a building and repairing point of view. When this subject receives the serious thought and consideration of laymen, as well as professional men, there will be more inquiry for knowledge of just how far stimulation can be carried without harm, and when people get sick they will know that they have been imprudent and gone beyond the point where health can be maintained in eating and caring for the body.
When man is born in the backwoods, and his mental and physical experiences are confined to a very limited environment, the number of pleasurable and disagreeable shocks which he experiences must be almost nil compared with what he would experience in the heart of population.
Everything else being equal, he should live longer in his secluded home; but such is not the experience of mankind. The limited experience--the limited shocks--in this restricted home fail to interest him, and he grows old young, and tires of life, and dies. We cannot live longer than we want to. Books and music help to fill the life and will prolong it.
The metropolitan man is shocked by so much of love and hate, and his experiences are so educational, that life has too much of interest for him to leave it. This does not apply to the sensualist--the man who lives for pleasure; for he becomes ennuied and dies from lack of interest. The man who lives for gain will live long if he continues to be interested in gain; but if he fails, and hope is gone, his health fails and death comes soon. Unfortunately, those who have the faculty for making money--becoming wealthy--are exceedingly unwise in placing it where it will do them the greatest good, or the greatest good to the greatest number.
The body is made stronger by the shock of exercise and work. Too much exercise pushes development beyond the normal. Most athletes are overdeveloped, and as a consequence die early.
Men, after they pass middle age, should have a certain amount of exercise; but those who live a sedentary life will not live as long if their exercise is pushed to a hardening of the muscles as they will if they exercise just enough to keep the muscles well shaped--keep the tissues from falling down. Old men never have muscles that stand up and are individual, such as the athlete prides himself upon. A man who is in a trade or business that requires continuous hard work will keep his muscles well up into old age, if he is regular about his work. If he works up to sixty years of age, keeping his muscles hard from his labor, and then retires, he will not live many years--not nearly so many as he would live if he should continue his work, perhaps not doing quite so much; yet, on account of his being accustomed to work, he will live very much longer if he keeps at his labor than he will if he stops and retires.
Most men of sedentary lives are underdeveloped; their organic life runs down, and many die early.
Over-mental development always means early death. This is especially true where the knowledge is not of a character to make one wise about his proper relation to his environment.
When a great physician dies too early because of lime deposit in his arteries, what is the reason? He has not had the proper conception of his relationship to his environment.
The riddle of health in its varying stages must be known before man can brace himself against the over- and under-effects of environmental shock.
We have seen that development means shock. The shock of too much nourishment, and of too much exercise, produces disease. Neither of these causes is disease-producing within itself. Food is necessary. The body cannot live long without the stimulation (shock) which it gets from food, and certainly it must have the building material that food furnishes. When food and exercise are given within the needs of the body, everything else being equal, the body may be said to be in a state of health.
When food and exercise are supplied beyond the needs of the system, or below the needs of the system, disease is said to prevail.
There is but one deduction from these facts, and that is that health and disease come from the same cause.
Perfect health does not exist. The state varies from one that is known as robust health to fatal disease. Yet both extremes are states of health.
How can there be an entity, disease, coming out of food, exercise, pleasure, work, or anything that affects man in his environment? The answer is: There cannot be. As stated before, life is made worth while because of the various influences affecting man.
Once it was thought that the force which animated living matter was an autogenerated vital energy, but now it is thought to be reactions produced by various agents.
About as good a definition for health as can be given, according to the foregoing, is: an equilibrium established between external stimulation and internal reaction.
The temperature of the body in health is about 37' C., or 98-1/2° F. If the temperature of the room or weather is about 60, and is kept at that point, the body becomes adjusted. If the temperature rises or falls slowly, reaction on the external medium will be gradual. Where the change is sudden, either plus or minus, it upsets the heat equilibrium and may cause much disorder, resulting in disease. What is the disease? Enervation and retention of excretion. This produces toxic poisoning.
Becoming adjusted to any sudden changes causes so much agitation that life may be endangered.
The cause of disease, or the cause of a departure from health, or health perverted, is not some mysterious entity; it comes from shocks imparted by environmental agents, which cause reactions; and the reactions are for the purpose of modifying the shocks and making them compatible with life's requirements.