Welcome, 2019! A Year for Health

EDITORIAL, 7 Jan 2019

#568 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

Alfas, New Year 2019: If 2018 was the Year of Migration, as key theme, then 2019 shapes up as the Year of Health.  Many leaders say so, including the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon (former South Korean foreign minister).

And more important in this little spot on our vast Planet Earth: the remarkable Alfas mayor, Vicente Arques, says so.  He wants Alfas to be L’Alfàs, Living LAB Saludable, Alfas, Live Health Laboratory.

Arques wants health as a key factor among other concerns, “in the framework of a complex, global and interrelated municipality, finding equilibrium between the aspects of a competitive, cohesive economy, social development and a sustainable environment and culture”.

Arques also wants health tourism: to Alfas in search of health; and tourism as such, including travel, hotels and food, made healthy.

A number of meetings have already been dedicated to health with more to come. Some quite technical, including research and dialogue on the ideal type of wood for hospital beds; not on the list of global problems before the meeting in Alfas drawing on all the resources of the province of Alicante and the Universidad de Alicante.

However: many speakers, only barely above 40, with clear ideas about what brings about health, did not look healthy.  Plenty of fat in wrong places and beer belly on top of that, dragging their feet.

And that in Spain where gracias a la vida, thanks to life, to life as such, not thanking anybody, be that God, or Woman with some male contribution (hurrah for that little contribution, by the way).

Being 88 and suffering from nothing, what is my health formula?

Food low on carbs: low on bread, easy; on sugar-sweets, not easy.  But better with a positive formula: high on cheese.  There is so much to choose from, like gorgonzola and tallegio from, Italy; and France seems to be made of cheese, like brie and Camembert. Thanks to both.

A Norwegian specialist on nutrition, TRANSCEND member Dag Viljen Poleszynski (viljen@vof.no) adds another dimension: no nutrition, fasting.  Everybody focuses on what to eat and what not, indeed important; but Poleszynski adds to the diet not eating; in other words, fasting.

A basic point is to give the digestive system some rest. Let the body tidy itself in peace, quietly repairing possible damages.  Digestion requires energy that the body might need for other purposes.

Poleszynski lists some variations on the fasting theme:

  1. Eating only 4-6 hours during 24 hours; drinking water with lemon. The stomach then rests 18-20 hours; the minimum would be 12-13 hours.
  2. Eating every second day as usual, the other day some vegetables.
  3. Fasting as above, but only one day a week.
  4. Fasting for 3-4 days sometimes annually, for internal renovation.
  5. Fasting 7-8 days once annually.
  6. Fasting 3 weeks as therapy when ill, maximum effect from week 3.

Going for #1 above: late breakfast 10 am, solid lunch 2 pm, avoiding “snacking”, but drinking much water, with lemon or chufi. Stomach rest 3 pm-10 am=19 hours; Poleszynski recommends 18-20 hours.

Add taste and beauty. Food should be not only “nutritious” but also “delicious”, giving immense pleasures to the taste buds.  And beauty to the eyes; foods have shapes and colors, like art.

But, the Norwegian brown bread with goat cheese, hopeless case? Not at all; cut the bread slice round with cheese curled on top, add some color.  By the way, a fried egg with bacon has much beauty.

There is much more to food than calories, proteins and vitamins.  Time is overdue for the nutritionists to broaden their perspectives.  My wife just served delicious lobster, painting the dining table with strong lobster color, with green vegetables, with rice and couscous.

Health from food?  Yes, but with taste, and with beauty.

Health from exercise?  Yes, but also with taste, and with beauty.

There is Churchill’s famous answer when he turned 90 and was asked how he made it on a diet high on whisky and cigars: no sports.

Sports champions have lower life expectancy, one reason possibly being overusing their body, another using their body unnaturally.  Many sports draw on some muscles so much more than others that the asymmetry cannot possibly be good for the body.

Walking looks fine, but in fact uses the lower part of the body much more than the upper part.  Walking with two sticks should help.

Swimming and running are excellent, being more symmetric.  But, in media res, neither too little, nor too much, all with moderation.

Jogging?  Marathon?  Maybe OK, but was the human body designed for long term sprinting?  Short term yes, like for flight, and for walking indeed, unlimited, sustained with water and vegetables.

Competitive sports?  Fun, but with a problem: it produces winners and losers, even permanent winners and losers; the former basking in glory, the latter steeped in trauma.  Neither is healthy.

Nor does a society high on winners and losers exude health.

But, through competition we improve ourselves?

Yes, but there is an alternative: competing with oneself to improve oneself.  Setting one’s own goals; when met, setting new goals.

And there is another alternative: cooperative sports. Two persons can cooperate to keep a badminton ball in the air as long as possible. But would that couple not start competing with some other couple?  OK, maybe we cannot beat beating, but we can move toward more cooperation.

For mutual, and equal, benefit.  Bringing about more horizontal societies of persons; and societies of societies: regions and worlds.  There would still be conflicts but the stage is set for moving forward with dialogues, not being stuck in steep and deep structural violence.

With that, TRANSCEND wishes our 70,000+ contacts around the world and everybody else a 2019 with Health.  Have much fun–basic to health.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. He was awarded among others the 1987 High Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. Galtung has mediated in over 150 conflicts in more than 150 countries, and written more than 170 books on peace and related issues, 96 as the sole author. More than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. Transcend and Transform was translated to 25 languages. He has published more than 1700 articles and book chapters and over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at transcend.org/galtung.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Jan 2019.

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5 Responses to “Welcome, 2019! A Year for Health”

  1. Isaac K. Obajemu says:

    Kindly suggest a thesis topic or topics with global or future relevance. Thanks

  2. Gary Corseri says:

    Thank you very much, Johan-san, for this keep-sake exposition for attaining and maintaining health and balance in our bodies, minds and spirits in 2019…and beyond.

    Of course, there are many good writers about food, exercise and sports—but you add your memorable, special touches: Don’t forget the element of “beauty” when setting a salutary meal; your wife “painting” the table with “strong lobster color”…green vegetables, rice and couscous!

    Yikes! I’m hungry!

    You conjoin the various ingredients of a salutary approach to life—including “beauty” and care for one’s own body and mind, but you never stray far from the essential factors of balance, moderation and humanist values.

    Of course, all of these careful thoughts are entwined with your lifelong work for a world at peace—for citizens at peace with themselves and others; for “informed” people who strive—not to “beat” the “other” or themselves, but to “improve” ourselves.

    I thought of my favorite adage from the Talmud:

    “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself—what am I?”

    How well this essay, these admonitions and this guidance, flows into the work you have done for Peace; touches, in fact, on similar themes of Gratitude and Balance.

    Health and Peace, clearer consciousness, awareness, more meaningful work on this precious, evanescent family-home of Earth!

    Thank you for lighting a way again.

  3. Good morning fellow TRANSCENDERS

    Without venturing beyond personal diet in this instance, as one element of human health, I would like to suggest that we each seriously consider two health-enhancing dietary improvements which would also have enormous benefit for our fellow creatures here on Earth and the biosphere as a whole.

    1. Consider vegetarianism (and veganism). In 2018, 90 billion land animals and 60 billion sea creatures were killed for human consumption. How else can we effectively transcend this particular conflict between humans and many of the other creatures (those condemned by our dietary choices) on Earth?

    2. Consider only eating biodynamically or organically produced food thus no longer supporting the poisoning of our plants, soil, insects and our food itself during food production. How else can we more effectively transcend this conflict between humans and those life forms killed (with many insects, including pollinators such as bees, being driven to
    extinction) by this poisoning?

    I readily acknowledge the vast range of other issues that constitute a healthy biosphere and our need to work on those as well.

    May 2019 be personally fulfilling and politically uplifting; Robert

  4. Trevor A Scott says:

    2019 shapes up as the year of health. Important to me as I approach the end 0f my 72nd year on this planet. Your health as always, is essential to your clear thinking and your wellbeing.
    Wood instead of cold hard steel for hospital beds – I love this; and while we’re thinking along these lines what about improving the hospital environment so that dying in hospital would not be such an awful thing. And I like the idea of a formula for a balanced diet; but in addition we need to aim for the right balance between good food and exercise.
    I am all for “taste and beauty” but I take umbrage with the serving of lobster; and egg and bacon. I believe that the creatures of this Earth are entitled to a life, and that we have no right to shorten it in order to sustain ourselves. Moreover, it has been proven many times by many different people that we can sustain ourselves on food derived from plants alone; and that one can live well on a vegetarian/vegan diet.

  5. Dear Johan, dear Antonio,
    Dear Transcenders,
    Antonio suggested to post what I send to the Transcend list. Thanks for the honor.
    So refined, made anew, brougth further.
    Some topics left out ? Money for peace (please particpate), the illegality of war and countries without armies will be for another day.
    But first thank you Johan for this health share: almost cosmic, cosmic indeed.
    I am mostly on number 1 from Jag. I eat only once or twice in the day, usually late afternoon (once I earned my food accross the day ? If means permit, please help, not always easy).
    I drink water, almost only water, but lots of it (I do have a spring), my favorite medicine, wash within, wash withtout. I do an early morning cure (a purge ?), everyday in the morning, one liter of water at least, usually before I do yoga, dance, wood cutting or snow shovelling. Not sport, physical delight !
    Drinking slowly, steadily, savoring, feeling the water (its differing temperature) reaching every part of the body. Try it !
    Much later, I almost always start breaking the fast, choosing the feast with a fruit salad; fruit is the most peaceful food, what nature offers without killing or restrain.
    Then a bit of whatever, but vegeterian definitely; the trout convinced me long ago.
    Lots of sprouts (though that is massive killing ;-( …). Beans and cereals are much more digestable once brought to life. Are sprouts ready to sacrifice ? Well somehow, but please no, no “sacrifice philosophy” no more, you know… the soldier for the general, the poor for the rich, Christ for all, the animal for the human and even the idiot for the wise, the Earth for whom ? Sorry but no, no longer ! We’ve been through that before, but by now we have rights for all and in progress. Equality is not a vain objective in that regard and yes we do have food for all and need to work at a better system for sharing it.
    And gratitude. Ahimsa, a light but creative touch for our passage on the Earth.
    Not much spices, spice is for the intensity of the moment, the poetry of every and each present time, emotional and intellectual food indeed, some of my favorite.
    But herbs, not drugs but almost, the twinkle in the energy, the relation with every body cell. May your medicine be your food and your food medecine (Paracelse).
    I also feed on the beauty of the land, always, on light and on love, infinitely.
    Love, my best food indeed, a harmonious and bearing, reciprocal and constructive relation with … the universe in all its happy and lively dimensions, including fellow humans.
    It will be nearly enough for now.
    For desert, I do wish our civilisation could be more healthy. I do have a few cures available…
    Peaceful infrastrutures, non-militarisation, peaceful settlement of disputes (universal not only international peaceful settlements and prevention, foremost), beyond fundamental human rights, fundamental human methods, sustainable and bearing happyness… education, prevention indeed, non-violence if need be and health.
    The knowledge and the capacity, for each and everyone to learn about, and practice, to individually serve, to be individually given the time needed to serve it’s own health, to refine habits and uses, social hinderances and find in well-being and sharing its very own health standards, in a gentle relationship with life and living.
    Health is indeed a human right; if they are collective positive incentives, it is also a very personal practice.
    And well if we would all be more healthy, we would all be more happy (you know, happy people breed a happy world) and we could save huge amonts of money to reduce poverty and give fod to all, to nurture peace, to address climate change and succeed in the much needed energy transition.
    Positive energy well rise from feeling well.
    Feeling good ? Thanks for reading.
    And yes, may 2019 be a healthy year, and evermore, everbetter !
    Thank you Johan !