Hierarchy of Healthicine: Sources of Healthiness and Causes of Illness

The Hierarchy of Healthicine shows the primary and secondary disciplines in the study of healthicine.  We have learned that health consists of distinct layers, from genetics to nutrients, cells, tissues, organs, systems, body, mind, spirit and community, we can take time to look deeper and to examine different aspects of the hierarchy. In this post we explore sources of healthiness and how some illnesses, most commonly – chronic illnesses are caused by lack of health.

When we first examine the hierarchy of healthicine we notice that only one of the layers is ‘complete in itself’.  That layer is the body.  We each have one body – even if we are of two minds and have many lively spirits. All other layers in the hierarchy contain many components.  We have many genes, many nutrients, many cells, etc., but only one body.

If we are to learn the sources of healthiness, and how we can improve our healthiness – based on the theory of healthicine – we can ask a simple question:

In which layers can we take action, to have an effect on other layers or overall healthiness?

We can look at the hierarchy, and quickly see which layer have direct effects on ALL other layers: nutrition, body, spirit and community, as in this table. HierarchyLayersAffect

As we often see, the Hierarchy of Healthicine makes clear the obvious.

We have been told many times that the best ways to improve your health are through nutrition and exercise.  Sometimes, we remember that improving our spirit is also important, reducing stress, finding balance in our life, not just our diet.  And occasionally, someone points out that family and community are keys to health.

Let’s explore this table further.


Is it possible to control or influence the health of your  genetics?  Not directly. But, one of the best ways to control your genes is through nutrition.  Foods that you consume can activate or de-activate specific genes, moderate unhealthy genetics, or accentuate healthy ones.  Many genetic factors are ‘related’ to disease – but not everyone with the gene gets the disease.  Why?  Diet, or nutrition is an important factor. You cannot control your genetics directly – but you can control your diet. Exercise has also been shown to have some effect on the actions of our genes. Thus we can exercise some control of our genetics through nutrition and bodily exercise.


Can we control our nutrition? of course we can.  However, it is important to remember that like all health factors, nutrition can be deficient, or excessive.  All nutrients can be toxic in excess.  And many toxins pretend to be nutrients.  When we look at nutrition we need to pay attention to both factors: nutrients and toxins.  When we make changes to our nutrition, whether it be food, water, or even the air we breath – we can improve (or decrease) the healthiness of elements in every layer of the hierarchy.

The most difficult challenge in improving our healthiness through nutrition is cutting through all the sales propaganda and finding the truth. No food (even fake food) salesman wants to admit that his food is unhealthy. And we tend to study foods and their effect on illness, but not their effects on healthiness.  Most foods today have labels telling us how much sugar, carbs, and different types of fats.  None of these are nutrients, and all are irrelevant to healthiness.

No foods have labels telling you how healthy they are – in fact if you try to claim that a food has a ‘health effect’ you may find the FDA knocking on your door, because there is no proof. The FDA monitors “heath claims” and if they do not approve the claim, it cannot be printed on the label and it cannot be advertised. According to the FDA, all ‘health claims’ for foods MUST contain the disease, or health condition that the food helps or prevents.  These so called ‘health claims’ are in fact only illness claims – health is bigger than illness.

Cells, Tissues, Organs, Systems

Can we control, or influence the health of our cells? Not directly, but we can affect the health of our cells by nutrition.  Exercise also also helps maintain cell health, by ensuring that our cells get sufficient nutrients through blood flow, and also that waste products can be carried away and disposed of.

In similar fashion, we can improve, or choose to decrease the general health of our tissues, organs and bodily systems – including the complex systems of the mind, by improving our nutrition, and by maintaining appropriate levels of exercise.


Nutrition plays a large part in the healthiness of our entire body, but if we don’t exercise, or maintain sufficient stress, our body will fade away.  Astronauts find that even with heavy exercise, but without the stress of gravity – bodies begin to deteriorate very quickly. When we work to improve the healthiness of our body – we improve every layer in the hierarchy.  Physical exercise stimulates all bodily parts and systems.

As with nutrition – we know that exercise is a key to health, but which exercise is healthiest? There are many theories and probably no perfect answer. It is certain that the best exercise for a two year old is very different from the best exercise for a teenager, an adult desk worker, an athlete and an octogenarian.


Note: The MIND component of the hierarchy, as I have defined it, contains the physical aspects of the mind, including the abilities to recognize, remember and calculate.  But the conscious aspects of our mind lie in the our spirit.  Our ability to make choices comes from the spirit. A mind without healthy spirits does not attempt decisions to improve healthiness.

There is much confusion about the line between mind health and spirit health, and similarly between mental illness and spiritual illness.  This is, in part, due to the Medical Paradigm, which often treats illness with drugs.  Our medical systems prefer to classify all spiritual illnesses as ‘mental illness’, so that drugs can be applied. But, trust me on this, no-one’s brain ever suffered from a lack of drugs.  If our mind is suffering a chronic illness, the main causes can often be found in nutrients, exercise, spirit, and community. And the effective treatments are there also.

We can’t really change our mind directly – and although mental exercise is important, it doesn’t directly affect other parts of the hierarchy.  When we think of “changing our mind”, we are actually changing our spirit, the part of our consciousness that we can control.


How can we improve the health of our spirit? Interesting question.

It is especially interesting to note that one of the traditional ways to improve spirit healthiness is through fasting.  Fasting is a nutritional action that reduces toxins.  We generally have plenty of nutrients in our diet, but also have many toxins.  Fasting, although it may seem like the opposite of nutrition – is actually a powerful nutritional tool for the body, mind and spirit. How healthy are your ‘spirits’ the morning after – when the toxins from the night before reach their peak effect?

Meditation helps the spirit as well – and can be viewed as ‘fasting’ of the mind.

Exercise has been shown to be a powerful influence on depression and other spiritual illnesses.

Getting involved in your community, helping others, and allowing yourself to be helped is also a key to spirit healthiness. Monitoring and improving spirit healthiness is a key source of healthiness.

When we take actions to improve our spirit health – all aspects of healthiness improve, in every layer of the hierarchy.


How can we improve the healthiness of our communities?  Perhaps this is the most difficult question – because we seldom think about the health of our communities. We don’t recognize the importance of health in our communities (as opposed to healthiness of individuals who live in communities).  Challenge: name some illnesses that exist in the area of Community Healthiness (some answers are at the bottom of this post).

The World Health Organization (WHO) and many others undertake to help individuals in communities, especially those who suffer nutritional deficiencies. This is one-sided community healthiness.  One community is trying to help individuals – often without respecting, or even noticing the health of communities that the individuals live within.  Our communities span family, to community groups, to governments, to corporations, churches and more. From our local golf or bridge club to charitable organizations, from military industrial establishments to global corporations, we hardly recognize ‘community healthiness’ nor ‘community illness’.

Communities have a dramatic effect on our individual and group healthiness. And once we begin to study the healthiness (and the sicknesses) of communities – we will take a big step towards improved health for all of us. We need to learn a lot about community health to make it a useful source of healthiness. Healthy communities improve healthy nutrition, healthy bodily exercise and healthy spirits.  Remember – even when you are healthy, there is room to move up the continuum of healthiness.

One of the most important ways to improve community healthiness is to get involved, and to stay involved.  There maybe times that this is difficult, because when we are involved, we become much more aware of problems in our communities. But we can’t improve community healthiness without awareness and involvement.

Causes of Illness

Are all illnesses caused by the factors of nutrition, exercise, weakness of spirit and unhealthy communities?  Of course not.

All illness is a result of one or more deficiencies or excesses, but the excesses might not be ‘healthy’ at all. You might be attacked by a bacteria, or struck by a falling tree.

However, many illnesses arise from unhealthiness that gradually progresses – getting worse and worse, until a diagnosis is made. These illnesses are often a result of health negligence, or simple lack of understanding of the influences of nutrition, exercise of the mind and spirit and of healthy communities.  Most of these are referred to as ‘chronic illnesses’ – because they arise from chronic unhealthy actions.

The Hierarchy of Healthicine is about health, not illness.  It does not attempt to identify the causes of illness – but it does clearly illustrate how we might improve our healthiness – through actions of nutrition, exercising our body and spirit, and working to create healthier communities and to improve our relationships with our communities.


The primary ways to improve your healthiness are diet (nutrition), exercise (body), spirit and communities.  We already knew that, but it’s nice to see the the hierarchy of healthicine not only confirms those concepts – but helps us to understand them more fully.

to your health, tracy

Founder: Healthicine.org

Note: Answer to “name some illnesses that exist in the area of Community Healthiness?

There are two kinds of community unhealthiness and illness.

Individual community unhealthinesses are illnesses that exists in a person, but have symptoms in the community, or when interacting with the community. Examples range from severe distrust of others (and groups) to prejudice, bigotry, sociopathy and psychopathy.

Community illnesses that exist in the community, as opposed to those in the individual, include war, genocide, but also include many injustices, like excess profits, excess taxes, and abuse of power. There is considerable difficulty understanding and distinguishing symptoms of illness from symptoms of healthiness – this sames problem arise when we attempt to diagnose community illness.


About Tracy Kolenchuk

Founder of Healthicine.org. Author of two books about healthicine; Healthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness Healthicine: Introduction to Healthicine
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