Listen to “What Does it Really Mean to Be Healthy?”.
These days, it’s hard to pinpoint what health really is. We don’t really know what health looks like anymore. Medicine is developing at high speed with the advent of organ transplants, life-saving operations, testings, screenings, vaccines etc.,
However, despite all of the progress made in medicine, more and more people are diagnosed with cancer every day; a third of the population is overweight or obese, including children; and depression and anxiety are rising at alarming rates.
While modern-day medicine has brought many life-saving advancements, one of the downfalls is that it often fails to treat the human system as a whole.
What would you think of a healthcare system that focuses on helping people become and stay healthy, rather than one which focuses purely on ‘managing’ diseases? How about a system of care that aims to optimise conditions in which the body can use its remarkable powers of self-healing and regeneration before resorting to invasive interventions and powerful drugs that carry added costs and complications?
True health relates to a state of physical, mental, spiritual and social wellbeing. In other words, if I am healthy, it is more than just the absence of diseases or infirmity.
The term health can also be used to denote a condition within societies, countries and our planet as a whole. Real, profound wellbeing emerges from feeling comfortable and at ease with yourself and the environment around you.
Our health is tied to air, water and food from the earth. This means that we should keep them clean and stop dumping toxic wastes into them. Our health is also improved by exercise, which should be a big part of our lives. Connecting with nature is beneficial for both our physical and mental health. Caring for ourselves and the biosphere would reward humanity many times over with improved health and happiness.
Alternative and complementary health practices have often been conceptualised as meeting some people’s needs, which the dominant medical system does not address. The idea of the inner core as the vital source of wellbeing echoes through many alternative and complementary health systems, no matter how diverse these practices appear to be.
How do we know when we are really, truly healthy? Here are some of the signs our body gives us:
- We have plenty of energy
- We can get a good night’s sleep
- We feel great, both physically and mentally
- Stress is only temporary and manageable; we don’t have panic attacks, depression or anxiety
- We feel happy, and our mood is well regulated
- Our weight is in a healthy range
To get these benefits from life, people need to understand the importance of self-care techniques and self-responsibility as a way of living rather than relying entirely on the healthcare system for miraculous remedies.
The pandemic has raised many issues regarding functioning healthcare and our general approach to health. People of all ages with chronic medical conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes are now at a higher risk and always will be.
Unhealthy lifestyles and behaviours are responsible for most chronic diseases. Chronic diseases cause approximately 70% of all deaths and up to 75% of all healthcare costs. Lack of physical activity, poor diets and tobacco use are directly responsible for 70-90% of chronic diseases.
With increasing urbanisation, sedentary and indoor lifestyles, and a growing reliance on screen time, it’s good to know that the road to wellbeing could be as easy as a walk or run in the park, stress reduction practices, and optimal nutrition.
Many lifestyle medicine physicians recommend a plant-based diet, particularly for people with diabetes or other inflammatory conditions. Unfortunately, prescribing food is more complicated than prescribing medication. It’s a lot cheaper to put someone on three months worth of drugs than to figure out how to get them to eat a healthy diet.
Food companies want you to become addicted to their highly refined, highly processed fake foods. Diet companies want you to eat their diet foods. Big Pharma wants you to be on prescription drugs forever.
But ultimately, you always have a choice.