Are You a Vitalist or a Mechanist? Find Out Here!

Among the sweeping range of health and nutrition resources you’ll find at Selene Rive Press—including the hundreds of free articles the SRP Historical Archives—a common theme ties everything together. But this theme is not as simple as the broad, poorly defined concepts of “nutrition” or “health.” For example, ask any group of people how they define a “healthy diet,” and you’ll undoubtedly hear an intriguing variety of responses that have been influenced by bad science, countless fads, and unscrupulous marketing.

When you dig into the trove at SRP, the common theme that emerges is better characterized as “natural,” or even “traditional.” But even these terms don’t capture the true importance of this information. To truly grasp this unifying idea is to have a whole new appreciation for life and for health.

In the healthcare world, there are plenty of practitioners, myself among them, who strive to apply their work in a way that is in harmony with this principle. This approach to medicine is often labeled as “wellness” or “holistic” or “natural,” but the term I prefer is “Vitalism.” And it is this word that best defines the big idea tying all of the information at SRP together.

Vitalism is the idea that living things contain a certain type of intelligence, and this intelligence is expressed as life. You can see it in the way cells multiply and create a vast, complex network of differentiated cells and tissues, resulting in 80 trillion cells working in perfect harmony to create a living person. Some may argue that this is nothing more than our bodies following a DNA blueprint, but what about the intelligence that created that blueprint in the first place?

This topic can quickly evolve into a philosophical or religious debate, but that would be missing the point. I am not attempting to prove or disprove anything about the concept of Vitalism. I simply want to acknowledge and explain the worldview of people who live on either side of this spectrum: Vitalism on the one side, and Mechanism on the other.

First, while a Vitalist believes that a living thing shows intelligence and human bodies are clever, a Mechanist believes that the body is nothing more than physics and chemistry in action.

Second, a Vitalist believes that we are natural beings, and as such we are part of nature and must follow natural laws. A Mechanist believes that we are not bound by the same rules as animals, that we can live just fine in artificial ways and on artificial means.

Third, a Vitalist believes that we must take care of the whole person and look at the big picture at all times. A Mechanist reduces things to the smallest possible parts and sees if they will still work. For example, a Mechanist might observe that since we can live without an appendix, it must be a useless, spare part of the human body.

Lastly, Vitalists take a humanistic approach to their health, their bodies, and their lives. They are gentle and friendly to the needs of their body, and they are thoughtful about the long-term effects. A Mechanist seeks a more authoritarian approach, taking control of any problems by brute strength, often for the sake of speed.

In a scenario such as pregnancy, a Vitalist appreciates the amazing wonder that it is to create life within the human body. They will focus on whole foods that provide a complete array of vitamins and nutrients, which are still in the form that nature intended. They know that their actions—and even their thoughts and emotions—will create an effect on the health and future of the baby. They have a deep trust in their body’s innate intelligence.

Mechanists may view pregnancy as more of a construction project, with all of the parts slowly coming together until the baby is finally done. They may eat artificial and synthetic foods during the pregnancy, believing these foods are simply a source of energy and matter and low prices are more important than quality. They’re more concerned that the baby will be a certain size by a certain date, with all ten fingers and toes, and they’re willing to give full control over to a medical doctor who knows so much more than Nature that they can pick a random date on the calendar to take the baby out.

I’m obviously biased. I know that there are those who follow the Mechanist model of health because it’s been passed down from generation to generation, and it’s all they know. Mechanism is even how I was raised as a child—I was taught to follow science when it comes to our bodies and health. (“Science” meaning whatever the latest studies declare science to be at any particular point in history.)

The Vitalist model of healthcare says that our bodies are smart. When allowed to function correctly, the body can heal itself. We are natural beings and require natural, unadulterated foods. We need clean air and water, and we need to keep our minds clean and clear as well. When we live an unnatural life and don’t allow proper function in our bodies, we end up paying the price with decreased lifespan and increased dysfunction.

As a chiropractor, I live by the Vitalist model. As a way to demonstrate this idea in a simple and straightforward way, I wrote The Night Before Wellness. Within this short booklet, I discuss these principles in a way that adults and children can begin to understand. If you want to apply these ideas correctly in your own life, you may want to work with a different kind of authority, such as a chiropractor. You’ll be in good hands with a chiropractor who has a Vitalist and humanistic approach.

If this information is new to you, just know that it doesn’t matter if you believe it or not. Seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis can still provide great results in your life. However, I know from experience that if your thoughts align with the principles of Vitalism, you will make a much better patient and get better results than someone who continues to look for the quick fix for their broken parts.

Take a moment and consider this clearly. If you believe that your body is smart, that it can heal, and that it can function in a way that is considered normal (without pains or the need for any external strategies like medications), then you’re on the right path. I implore you to honor this intelligence. Achieve your Vitalist destiny by seeing your local chiropractor to allow the proper expression of this intelligence through a healthy and competent nervous system. I also recommend visiting a nutritionist in your area who utilizes Standard Process whole food supplements to support and maintain this expression of true health.

Images from iStock/wildpixel(main), wildpixel (post).

Dr. David Kolowski

Dr. David Kolowski is a chiropractor, speaker, and author in Loveland, Colorado. His booklet The Night Before Wellness gives the Big Idea of natural healthcare to readers young and old. Dr. Kolowski describes his mission as helping people ask better questions while seeing the bigger picture. You can find him at Inside Health.

Products by Dr. David Kolowski

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holistic nutrition | whole food supplements

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