Normal and Average… Do They Mean the Same Thing?
There’s normal and there’s average. They’re different. Let me give you an example. When I’m examining a new patient and my examination reveals a significant amount of nerve interference between the shoulder blades I ask, “Wow, do you get digestive problems? Can you eat anything you want to?”
The patient answers sheepishly, “Oh, no more than average… I get heartburn and belching, and I can’t eat peppers… they do a number on me.”
According to the American Nutrition Association 70 million people in the U.S. suffer from digestive issues everyday. Are digestive problems common? Yes. Does the average American have digestive problems regularly? Maybe. Does that make it normal? No way! We weren’t designed to suffer regular digestive problems.
Is It Normal To Be Average?
It is interesting how two words actually are used interchangeably today but are miles apart in their definition. This incorrect thinking gives rise today to much incorrect action.
Average, simply put, is found by dividing the sum total of a set of figures by the number of figures summed. Add together 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 and then divide by 5. Your average is 30.
Normal, on the other hand, is defined by Webster as “that which is occurring naturally.”
Average is an artificial figure based upon a numbering system of ten which we have created. Normal cannot be changed without outside intervention. Average can be determined by anyone with the ability to add and divide. Normal is determined by the inborn intelligence of the body. It varies from moment to moment depending upon the needs of the individual.
If you were to run around the block and measure your pulse rate you might find that it was as high as 120 beats per minute. If you were able to compare that with someone who hasn’t been running they might have a pulse rate of 72 beats per minute. Your pulse rate would be considered “above normal”. The point is that something is happening to your body that is different than the body of the person who has not been running and you have the need for a different pulse rate. We would not expect your heart to maintain a “normal” pulse rate.
What about situations that could occur in your body that a doctor may know nothing about? And, what if those situations required a higher pulse rate? The doctor might not even know the reason for this change in pulse rate. Just assuming that you are not “normal” may lead to some unnecessary treatment. It isn’t normal to be average.
Normal and Average… Can We Get In Trouble Confusing Them?
The most common example of confusing normal and average is that of simply taking a body temperature reading. Thousands of times a day in this country mothers and fathers are using the thermometer to determine if their child is “sick”. “Sick” is determined by whether or not their child has a body temperature that falls over the little red line at 98.6 degrees. If it is elevated, then little Johnny or little Mary has a fever. But is 98.6 normal? No, it is not normal. Your temperature deviates below and above all day long depending on your activity and metabolic rate. 98.6 is an average temperature determined by adding the temperatures of a large group of people and dividing by the number of the group. It actually means that it is possible that no one in that large group even has a 98.6, but when added altogether it becomes the average.
Where it can get the parent in trouble is when they determine that little Johnny or Mary “have a fever” and begin to treat them with aspirin to bring their temperature back to 98.6 because they believe that that is normal. But that is not necessarily in the best interest of the child. The “fever” may very well be the normal response of a body that is working perfectly.
Until recently many doctors viewed fever as a symptom of an illness or infection… something that needed to be treated. Scientists now know that the elevated temperature is actually a good thing. Elevated temperature results in:
1. Interferon, the natural virus-fighting immune chemical made by our body, becomes more efficient with
2. White blood cells become more active and begin to move more quickly to mount a defense.
3. Iron, which pathogens thrive on, is withdrawn from the blood.
4. The body’s chemical reaction rate is accelerated allowing enzymes to be made faster and detoxification.
5. Aspirin actually lowers the production of the body’s antibodies.
Fever is a normal response of a body’s inborn intelligence in infections and other stimuli. Trying to lower a person’s temperature so that it more closely resembles the average of 98.6 degrees is not helpful.
What Other Things Do We Confuse With Being Normal?
Vomiting… it’s a normal body reaction to get rid of poisons and toxins. Weight… who the hell wants to have an average weight? Blood pressure? 120/80 used to be the national average. Cholesterol? Who cares… it’s not what causes heart disease!