What is Health?

What is Health?

What is health?  According to a 1948 definition by the World Health Organization, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Ok, I like the broad definition which includes physical, mental, and social, but I am not so sure about the word, “complete.”  That word sets a pretty high bar.  The British Medical Journal has this to say about the WHO definition:

“The requirement for complete health would leave most of us unhealthy most of the time. It therefore supports the tendencies of the medical technology and drug industries, in association with professional organisations, to redefine diseases, expanding the scope of the healthcare system. New screening technologies detect abnormalities at levels that might never cause illness and pharmaceutical companies produce drugs for “conditions” not previously defined as health problems.”

And yet, this seems to be exactly how our healthcare system has evolved, a pill for every purpose.

What happened to “let food be thy medicine?” Perhaps food was the answer when food was actually food and when added sugar represented less than 15% of average daily calories.  But it looks like that ship has sailed.  We have outsourced personal responsibility for health to well-intentioned public policy “experts.”  New York City’s war on sugary beverages and a Chicago school district’s ban of homemade lunches are but two examples.

Personally, I have zero interest in being subject to someone else’s definition of what is health or healthy, even if it is well intentioned.  I will happily listen to logic, science, and even anecdotal evidence, but ultimately I want to make my own decisions about how to live my life, what to eat, and how much to exercise.

For those of you following a similar path, I will continue to share my own experiences and pass along new information.  Just this past week, I read an interesting article by Paul Jaminet regarding standing vs. sitting. My belief, prior to reading his post, was that with an adequate amount of exercise, we can avoid the problems associated with a largely sedentary lifestyle.  Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple.

According to Paul,

“Time spent standing did more to push fat into muscle cells than vigorous daily exercise. This is significant because pushing nutrients into muscle cells promotes muscle growth. If you have trouble gaining muscle, maybe the problem is too much sitting, and what you need is not more intense workouts, but more frequent standing!”

So, in addition to getting 30-60 minutes a day of exercise, it is also important to get up out of your chair.  Stand up, take a walk, just get moving.

Photo credit:  Old Shoe Woman