March 24, 2003

Health and Wellness

Making Wise Life Style Choices for Optimal Health

The meeting was attended by 12 members, 4 friends and 18 guests.

Business of the Institute

Jim Haliburton, Diane Jennings, Gerri Schwartz and Desmond Berghofer reported on the various projects the IFEL is supporting. All are moving ahead. Members and friends interested in working on projects in any of the theme areas are encouraged to contact the following people:

Bill Borgen (Youth and Education) 604-822-5261

Diane Jennings (Spirituality and Personal Development) 604-945-7799

Maggie Gold (Health and Wellness) 604-683-5112

Desmond Berghofer (Business and Sustainability) 604-734-2544

Jim Haliburton (Stewardship and the Environment) 604-926-3352


Gerri Schwartz introduced the program by referring to what she called the “new literacy” for health. Individuals and families now have the benefit of knowledge not generally available to earlier generations about how to live healthy life styles. Our aim at the IFEL is to provide this new knowledge as widely as possible by beginning tonight with a series of presentations on how we can all benefit from new learning about maintaining our own good health.

Maggie Gold, as Chair of the Health and Wellness Committee introduced guest speaker, Dr. David Wang, Past President of the BC Naturopathy Association and Founding Governor of the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine.


(Click here for a full account of Dr. Wang's presentation (requires PowerPoint Viewer). The following summary lists the main points).

Dr. Wang began his presentation with the question “What is optimal health?” It means the ability to function optimally on every level—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

The problem with our current approach to healthcare is that it is designed for the “horizontally sick,” whereas many people are walking around “vertically sick” and in need of better knowledge about how to care for themselves and each other.

Because of this approach healthcare costs are increasing much faster than population growth.

Just spending more money on healthcare does not raise the health of the population.

While heart attacks and strokes and cancer are the top two causes of death in Canada, adverse reactions from medical treatments are #3. Something is wrong here.

The life span of adults 45 or older has not improved appreciably in the last 100 years, despite the enormous increase in expenditures on healthcare.

The experience in Okinawa is indicative of what can be expected for longevity (average life span 88 compared to 78 in North America; 3 times as many centenarians per 100,000 of population).

The causes of heart disease are generally recognized as too much consumption of meat and fat as well as excess dairy intake, smoking, lack of dietary fibre and lack of exercise.

Bowel cancer deaths are second only to death from lung cancer.

We have too great a dependency on chemicals and drugs. Adverse reactions are the third leading cause of death.

Increased use of pesticides is linked to degenerative conditions and immune deficiency disease.

Negative stress is another serious problem,.

Nutrient deficiencies make us an overfed but undernourished population.
Genetics account for only one-third of physical health, the other two-thirds relate to lifestyle.

The ABCs of optimal health are embedded in three qualities : Awareness, Commitment and Exploration. They are illustrated in the following practices:

Aerobic Breathing we need to practice active inhaling
Basic Drinking we need to drink spring, mineral and glacial waters
Clean Eating foods can be toxic. Research reveals the benefits of a plant food diet (not necessarily total vegetarian)
Detoxifying we live in a toxic world and need a medically supervised detoxification from time to time
Exercise the couch potato syndrome is killing us—walking, hiking, biking, swimming and sports make a big difference
Faith and Love joy, community involvement, positive attitude, meditation and prayer—all contribute to a healthier life

The bottom line is expressed by the following quote from Dr. Kenneth Pelletier (author of Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer: A Holistic Approach to Preventing Stress Disorder)

“Without any significant attempt to prevent disease, it is certain that the aging of
our global society will soon overwhelm our ability to respond.”


The presentation was followed by a period of discussion in groups leading to the following Q&A period with Dr. Wang;

Q: Would Naturopaths be interested in working with IFEL to promote healthy lifestyle choice?
A: Yes. We could partner. The BC Association puts out a quarterly newsletter to which the IFEL could contribute.

Q: Explain detoxing and cleansing.
A: You have to be careful. Some processes are harsh and unbalanced. It should be focused on organs and individual needs. Just eating vegetables over a weekend would be good.

Q: How do we know who to trust?
A Be cautious about hype. Build your own team of experts. Do your research.

Q: What can be done to educate and motivate the individual to take responsibility for his or her own health?
A: The current system is a spending system. Doctors get no time or opportunity to treat causes of illness. MDs have poor knowledge about nutrition. The good news is that the rising costs are forcing medical training to include more knowledge about health maintenance. Naturopaths are acting as coaches. One way to increase responsibility would be to give each person their own personal health budget where they could achieve savings from year to year by staying healthy.

Q: What can the Institute for Ethical Leadership do?
A: 1. Create a blue print for a healthy citizenry.
2. Host a dialogue of traditional and complementary professionals
3. Educate children in schools (sponsor Health Clubs)
4. Help create an Integrated Medical Association for BC
5. Host a conference using open-space technology
6. Gather information and be a resource for good news
7. Create a chat room on the Internet
8. Establish contact with the Naturopathic Association and the BCMA


Maggie Gold thanked Dr. Wang for his participation..

Gerri Schwartz closed the meeting by inviting those who had come as guests to consider returning first as Friends of the Institute, then as members to lend their support to spreading the work of the Institute.

Next Meeting (there is no meeting in April)

May 26, 2003: 5.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., Vancouver Public Library
Theme: Youth and Education
Topic: Values-Based Curriculum in Schools (update on progress)