Building at Machu Picchu
Fear of the unknown – what’s behind the opening? Photo by Red O’Laughlin

Yesterday, I attended a seminar that included the topic of Theory of Constraints. I read Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt’s book, Theory of Constraints in the mid-80’s. It still is a good read. What impressed me most at this seminar was a video showing a bottle full of water being emptied.

The first option was to turn the bottle upside down and let gravity do its thing. It took 18-19 seconds. The bottleneck was too small to allow water to leave and air to come in at the same time. There was a lot of turbulence.

The second option changed the process slightly by swirling the bottle to develop a water vortex. The upside-down bottle had the air rushing in from the center of the bottle neck and the water exiting from the bottle without creating any turbulence. The time to drain the bottle was 11-12 seconds.

The third option had a long straw inserted into the bottle. As it was turned upside down, air was blown into the straw and allowed a passageway for the air to enter the bottle and the water to leave the bottleneck with only the small cross-section of area used by the straw. The time to empty the bottle was 4-5 seconds.

How does this address our health? We all have constraints in our lives. It is based on our knowledge and habits we have developed over time. We might not like the smell or taste of sour kraut, Brussels sprouts, or other foods. These foods might be very healthy for us, but we have constrained them out of our lives.

We might be under the assumption that something is true when it is not. Is a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle better? Is red meat bad for you? Is saturated fat harmful? We listen to our friends and their successes and assume that if it works for them it will work for us. We do things without understanding them.

Health constraints are exacerbated by our medical institutions. Doctors can’t recommend fish oil, green vegetables, garlic, turmeric, vitamin E, vitamin K2, and other natural foods and herbs as blood thinners. They prescribe Coumadin and Plavix because the FDA says they are approved for that purpose. Foods are not tested by the FDA, nor can they be used to treat medical problems today. It is a major constraint to our health.

We have many constraints to our health care. Education and awareness remove some of them. Changing habits removes a few more.

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