Monday, November 5, 2012

What is Health?

"When you have your health you have everything."
Source unknown, but likely an ill person.

Heath definitions:
  1. The state of being free from illness or injury.
  2. A person's mental or physical condition.

We know health is important especially when it is threatened, but do we know what it is?
It is often described as the absence of disease, but we know that some people have more of it than others.
In Western medicine traditionally we have not emphasized how to optimize health.
There are some basics that we all know: avoid some things (sweets, soda, cigarettes, etc.) and add some things (exercise and good food).
This is a very basic approach that leaves most of us uncertain where to being or how to know what are the most important factors.

I like to view health in terms of the three pigs story.

Physical and mental health are like structures we build with repeated choices.
We can build a straw house, a wood house or a brick house.
A well built and well maintained home is much more pleasant to live in and much more capable of withstanding storms of illness.

A home in any condition can be improved.
Some improvements are more high yield than others.
An entire home cannot be remade in a day.
An upgrade from no daily exercise to a walk after dinner is a major improvement.
Additional vegetables and smaller portions or less red meat is another improvement.
Small daily changes add up over time.

Changing the mindset from health as an unpleasant to do list to health as an investment in building a stronger home for oneself is a good first step.

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