WHAT IS HEALTH?
The WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being – not just the absence of disease.
Sounds rational but how do you get there from here, you may ask.
At the epicenter of what makes us healthy is the mighty protector a.k.a the immune system. It functions to fight off acute invasion of infectious or rogue bugs as well as protect us from irritating chemicals. It has a tremendous capacity to cope with many and varied insults but like anything else it needs to be nourished and maintained. Over a lifetime, the immune system can become less resilient depending on the level of burden it has had to endure from our diet, lifestyle or environment.
Like a classic car that is still purring along decades after rolling off the production line, the immune system can serve us well into our old age if only we take care of it like we cherish other possessions near to our heart!
But clearly that’s not the full story. What is fueling the car and what are the driving conditions?
The molecules in food provide not only energy (calories) but also the vital nutrients for our cells to perform their various functions to sustain our health. Like a lock and key, each nutrient has a specific task.
This very important fact is not well understood. It means that
all calories are not created equal.
That’s right – while a carrot and a cupcake are both mostly carbohydrates consuming one or the other can have a huge impact on your body’s ability to function over time.
Another consideration is how well we handle the daily barrage of external pollutants and internal waste products. As we age our plumbing can get clogged from the cumulative effect of cleaning toxic insults overwhelming the liver and kidneys. Making some simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments can protect these vital processes and build organ reserves.
If that wasn’t enough, there’s our thoughts, attitudes and beliefs – all of which can make or break our state of health.
So, you could consider health to be about maintaining resilience. And the question becomes –
what one thing can you do each day to support your body? Small changes can make a big difference over time.
These changes will not only keep you well but help you realize your full potential for vitality and longevity.
THE PRICE OF DISEASE
Today over 50% of adults suffer from one chronic illness, two-thirds are overweight and 1 in 48 boys are on the autism spectrum. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that over three-quarters of our health expenditure is spent managing these conditions. A recent study by the World Economic Forum projects that by 2030, the worldwide cost for chronic illness treatment will exceed $47 trillion.
That’s just one side of the equation.
What’s often a surprise to people is when they learn that these chronic conditions are a consequence of how we live our lives. That’s right, these are lifestyle diseases. We were not genetically destined to succumb to most of the conditions that plague the majority of the people.
A 2012 study published in the Lancet looked at a twenty year period and measured the number of days lost to mortality or disability due to a health condition. They concluded that the common denominator for the greatest factor limiting people’s lives during that period was preventable, lifestyle-induced disorders.
YOU ARE NOT YOUR GENES
It’s true. Your genes are your blueprint for what is uniquely you.
But, wait…your genes are not fixed, they can be modified. They can dynamically adapt to the messages they receive moment to moment from the environment.
Yes, that means, you are in control!
The foods you eat, the supplements you take, the exercise you pursue and the thoughts you have all orchestrate your biochemistry to turn on or turn off the expression of your genes. The outcome of this coding over time can either hurt your health and pave the way for disease or preserve it by creating an internal environment conducive to longevity and disease resistance.